Congresswoman Bonamici at IBW


Anabella Nutcher (she/her), Staff Writer

On April 24th, Ida B. Wells got a visit from Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici who came to talk about sexual assault and violence. It was led by SAFER Club but was available for anyone to come, regardless if one was in the club or not.

SAFER Club (Students Active For Ending Rape) meets twice a month and talks about what students, especially ones who can not vote, can do to help prevent sexual violence. Sophia Elizondo-Bean, one of the co-leaders of SAFER said, “We focus a lot on prevention and education because we’re not mental health professionals and those things are what we feel qualified to do as teens.” Right now they are doing a student-led project where they are making books about consent aimed towards younger children that show situations towards kids that voice that it’s okay to say if they’re uncomfortable without talking about sex or intimacy.

One of SAFER’s goals is to make people more aware about voting and to research who they are voting for. Meira Fiber-Munro, one of the other co-leaders of SAFER, said “There’s a lot of information about different bills and measures that don’t get put on the ballot so people often don’t know what they’re voting on.”

Bonamici with the SAFER club leaders

Bonamici came to answer student questions and talk about what students can do to help stop sexual violence. Her goal in coming to talk to the school was to spread awareness about what students can do and get feedback on what she and the Oregon State Government can be doing better and hear student opinions.

One topic that Bonamici talked about was Title IX. Title IX is the bill that prevents discrimination in schools and athletics. “Title IX is designed to make people feel safe,” said Bonamici. She talked about some of the proposed changes to the bill, which include requiring that students be able to play the sport on the team that matches their gender identity. Bonamici did however express her disapproval of the part of the newly proposed rule that says that there can be exceptions to keep the fairness of the game. “I think it spreads a terrible message that trans people can’t participate in sports,” said Bonamici, and then added on that this exception to the law only promotes discrimination.

Another subject that Bonamici is passionate about is climate justice. She served on the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, which worked to figure out ways to help with the climate crisis and take action to prevent the enormous stamp we’re putting on the world right now.

Bonamici also believes that everyone should be able to have access to all books and sex education. She stated that it’s not a smart decision to restrict children and teens from certain books when they have full access and can find anything on the internet. All children at some point should be able to have access to sex education which, in itself, is a good tool to prevent sexual violence if children are taught about it at as they start to hit puberty.

Ms. Coning, Congresswoman Bonamici, and Principal Hristic

School board elections, coming up on May 17th, are also important if you are registered to vote. The people who are elected work to ensure that schools can continue to be a safe and accessible place and can help the most amount of students possible. So they are definitely worth researching and voting for if you are over 18.

Bonamici wants to make sure that student voices can be heard and students can feel comfortable telling their story and trying to initiate change. “[Ida B. Wells] is a place where students are showing real leadership.”