Katherine Tarbox writes at Quartz of her experience of St Paul’s School and sexual exploitation. In particular, she notes that
At the heart of the matter is the “senior salute,” described by the media as a competition among upperclassmen at the storied, elite boarding school to take the virginity of new female students. This has been described as a decades-old tradition dating back to the William Randolph Hearst days, but it’s actually a new development for life at St. Paul’s.The “senior salute” was not part of the culture when I attended St. Paul’s from 1997 to 2000, nor was it around for students who graduated just five years ago. The conditions that enabled this deplorable lie to take hold are not unique to one boarding school, but are part of a centuries-old custom that the well-educated and privileged adhere to. They don’t discuss sexual crimes, therefore, consequences of such behavior are misunderstood or ignored.
Tarbox notes the explosion of cases and investigations involving sexual assault, exploitation, and a culture of oblivion in educational institutions in recent years. She blames “institutional silence,” and alleges that, “Sexual misconduct is not limited to students.”
Although she writes of the “sacred ground” of St Paul’s School, Tarbox is clear in her assessment that institutional blindness has allowed evil to flourish.
The problem at St. Paul’s has become too atrocious that it has no choice but to be transparent and address it.I have confidence that the headmaster will step up to the challenge to make sure that victims are treated with dignity and these crimes are punished appropriately. And in some ways this case represents a huge victory for future victims of sexual assaults, in that the case is being handled within the judicial system and not quietly within St. Paul’s. But I am also confident that other schools will allow more victims to be raped before they step up to the task.