Sasha Kalvert uses leadership skills to fight sexual violence
While sexual harrasment and gender inequality have been worldwide issues for decades, Sasha Kalvert is working to dismantle these systems—starting at the high school level.
As Sexual Harasment/Assault Response and Prevention (SHARP) leader, Kalvert, a senior, uses her leadership skills to fight sexual violence with the hope of creating a safer community for all students at the high school.
Kalvert said that her concern for her own safety motivated her activism.
“A lot of my activism is really rooted in some sort of fear, which sounds really sad to say, but I think it’s the truth. For example with climate activism, I’m afraid for my future; with gender and sexual violence prevention markets, I’m afraid for myself and the people around me,” Kalvert said.
Kalvert is a student in School Within a School (SWS) and works closely with teacher Keira Flynn-Carson. Kalvert said that Flynn-Carson’s Feminism in Literature class helped her gain the courage to voice her ideas to the public.
“Keira really helped me reclaim my place in gender justice,” Kalvert said.
According to Kalvert, the open space Flynn-Carson provides offers her the opportunity to understand her own issues and learn about others’ perspectives. Flynn-Carson said that her class helped inspire Sasha’s advocacy by giving her more ways to bring out her ideas to the open.
“I think it was a perfectly timed toolbelt to give her some more ideas and some more encouragement to keep going in the direction she was already going in,” Flynn-Carson said.
Kalvert’s primary focus is activism against gender and sexual violence. Flynn-Carson said that Kalvert is trying to evoke a change in the education provided on this topic.
“She’s really thinking about it, given some of the constraints for how a school can help a student who has reported harassment or assault, and focusing her advocacy on how she can bring better education to a wider range of people and at a younger age, so people understand consent and equity,” Flynn-Carson said.
Kalvert has been meeting with a variety of different staff members and other student activists to vocalize her thoughts. Flynn-Carson said that Kalvert has been opening their minds to how to make the school a safer community. Kalvert has been involved in various meetings with school officials to help navigate what their jobs should provide for survivors. Her main goal is to help students who have been affected by sexual and gender violence feel safe to share their stories with the hope of promoting change.
Kalvert doesn’t view her leadership role as a way to make everyone follow her, rather she wants all the people that go in and out of SHARP to be as educated as possible. SHARP member and senior Erica Weinreich said that Kalvert’s leadership style has changed SHARP for the better.
“She’s a very passionate person who is also determined and hardworking. She has a very lively presence that encourages people to share their ideas and to have discussions,” Wenreich said.
With Kalvert’s guidance, Weinreich said that she has become very aware of what it means to be a leader in SHARP. Weinreich said she feels as though she’s been given more chances to hold a leadership role, which has helped spark her passion for activism.
Kalvert has been thinking of different ideas to better the organization. Currently, SHARP is aiming to create a safer community at the high school. Kalvert is planning on touching base with different parts of the high school to help with the expansion of the organization’s work. Kalvert said that SHARP is working on altering the student handbook to increase the protection and rights of survivors.
“My goal for this year is to really tighten all the loose ends. So we need to create a mission statement and really solidify who we are, what we do, how we do it and why. We need to talk about the ways we make change so that when I graduate, which is honestly really soon, the people who pick up where I left off know how to continue the movement and don’t have to start from scratch every single time,” Kalvert said.
Kalvert said that in 10 years she wants to look back at herself and be proud of all the work she has done regarding her activism.
“I think, to me, all that I can ask for from my future self is just to be able to look back and say that I did the best I could with whatever situation was presented to me and that I worked hard for justice and really committed myself to seeking justice in every way possible,” Kalvert said.