Katie Koestner, at the time an 18 year old from Pennsylvania, was raped in her freshman year at William and Mary by a student she had been casually dating for two weeks. She spent her time not telling the students about the event itself, but the idea of rape culture and prevention. Katie’s message was simple: she challenged the Bullis students to change the culture that surrounds rape and assault.
Katie’s words shocked the audience, “My greatest fear is that you will leave this room and make a joke at my expense; not because of my own personal feelings, but because then I don’t know what you are capable of.”
She spoke directly to the men in the audience, asking them to stand up for the women around them because one day they’ll hope someone somewhere is doing the same for the women in their lives. She also spoke to the women and urged them not to let the attention of males dominate their self confidence.
Lily Cantral and Emily Renkey, presidents of the Students Against Sexual Assault Club, are responsible for bringing Ms. Koestner to Bullis this year.
“This month being Sexual Assault Awareness Month, we wanted to get people thinking and to start a conversation about sexual assault, and Katie Koestner, being an incredibly strong person, was the perfect speaker to do just that.”
Lily, Emily and Katie achieved their goal of sparking conversation among high schoolers as the Upper School has not stopped buzzing since Koestner stepped off the stage. Many Bullis students have shown interest in continuing the fight and joining the “Take Back the Night Walk” with the Edmond Burke school in DC. For Lily and Emily the support of their peers comes as a success after the fight it took to get their club and speaker approved by the Bullis administration.
Cantral said, “I was so happy that so many people came up to us after and said they were so happy we got to bring in a speaker and that they really wanted to participate in the walk and the club.” The two young women represent a strong future in the fight against sexual assault.
As sexual assault awareness month continues, the Bullis community must strive to change the attitude that surrounds rape culture. Katie Koestner took the first step in shifting how we look at rape now the challenge is in our hands.