“Title IX is effectively supposed to be a set of protections, it’s supposed to be protections set in place for you and me, and every other student at the school to be able to demand equity based on gender and sex,” said Genevieve Mage, the current yearbook teacher at Berkeley High School, who has been known for her activism towards Title IX.
Mage worked in an investigation back in 2021 that later went viral during the summer. She filed a Title IX report against a former BHS teacher, Matthew Bissell, who had previously been reported sexually assaulting and harrassing several students. Bissell no longer works at Berkeley Unified School District.
According to Mage, since then, BHS has been recognized as a place of activism when it comes to Title IX. According to the Title IX coordinator, Jasmina Viteskic, the school has educated students on the topic. However, Mage thinks that more training for teachers is necessary.
BHS teachers had a training on Title IX before the start of school this year. The training involved a slideshow that teachers could individually click through and answer questions throughout the presentation.
“It’s like an audio slideshow where I have to click, play, watch a video and respond to a question at the end of 20 minutes,” Mage said.
In previous years, teachers had gotten training not specifically for Title IX, and more about consent education. Students has also recieved a concent education presentation, led by Shafia Zaloom.
“I don’t really believe we’ve had training before (this year),” Said Angela Coppola, a history and government teacher at BHS. “We had some consent education last year, from the same person that gave consent education to students, but I don’t believe that it was focused on that Title IX.”
Ella Suring, a BHS senior, is the co-leader of the Women’s Student Union at BHS, and was a member the year before, when the union had filed a lawsuit against the federal government. The lawsuit was about Title IX regulations that Trump “threw out of the window during his campaign,” said Suring. The club is still continuing that work.
Suring believes that more could be done when it comes to educating teachers to Title IX.
“I think they should definitely be getting more training,” Suring said. She thinks it’s important that more trainings are done for the teachers, so that they can know how to handle the situation if a student ever comes to speak to them.
Jasmina Viteskic, the Title IX coordinator at BHS for just under a year, has been organizing Title IX training for teachers. The most recent training was on November 7. Unlike the online training from the summer, this was in person, with Viteskic leading the meeting.
“The purpose of all of these trainings is to give our teachers the tools and the knowledge to know how to create a safe and inclusive learning environment for all of our students,” said Viteskic. “(We want to) make sure that all the kids are comfortable in their classrooms and that there’s nothing that’s happening that’s going to make them feel uncomfortable.”
According to Viteskic, BHS is actively trying to make the school a safer and more aware space, yet there is still a long way before accomplishing the school that BHS staff and students aim to have.