When Pres gets media attention, we usually get covered for doing community service at 4 a.m. or for getting another athletic award. However, recently, our school has been in the spotlight for sexual assault allegations against a former teacher.
After a Pres alum published these allegations in The Washington Post in late October, reporters gathered outside campus, interviewing students and parents on their thoughts on the allegations and their current safety in the school.
As students have never faced this form of scrutiny before, some were uncomfortable with the way the story was handled, especially when approached by reporters both in person and online.
NBC reporter Vicky Nguyen asked senior Kamya Venkatesan for an off-the-record interview. Venkatesan said that she had a problem with the reporter’s unconventional methods of contacting her for an interview.
“It felt a little weird to be honest because I really wasn’t expecting her to DM me on Twitter. I saw people being interviewed outside of school, but outside of school on an app just felt strange and intrusive. I think there are better ways to get the answers you want than DMing minors on social media,” she added.
Other students have had strange encounters, not only with the media but also with friends and family members. “During Thanksgiving, I had family and friends who live in the area and attend schools in the San Jose dioceses ask me about how school has been, aware about the allegations, and all,” sophomore Anika Adulla said. “I really didn’t know how to respond because I myself wasn’t completely sure about what was going on.”
However, some students have reported little to no effects of the recent media attention. Senior Julia Cheng said, “Pres, for me, didn’t feel much different. But whenever I introduce myself to others, sometimes people say things like, ‘I hear there’s stuff going on,’ and I just explain. And they understand.”
Senior Evan Heath did not notice the interviews occurring outside campus. “I haven’t seen any news reporters who have been supposedly standing outside the school trying to interview students,” she said.
“The only incident that I can think of in which this has affected me or I have even experienced is with articles online about Pres. Overall, I still think Pres is the same place and that it is a safe environment in the end,” she added.
Overall, students had mixed feelings regarding how the media portrayed the issue. “The thing about the media is that they have to draw in viewers. People think that that’s all that happened. I think to an extent, they portrayed it accurately, but to another extent, they did not have to dramatize it as much as they did,” Venkatesan said.
For future reference, Venkatesan has suggestions for how the school could handle the events in the future. “I do hope that the school keeps us informed because that was what the major outcry of most Pres students was: that we didn’t know about any of this.”
In response, to students’ confusion about what was happening, the administration arranged for two informational sessions, one in homeroom and one as part of a general assembly the day before Feast where Principal Mary Miller told students what she could. Miller has also offered to make herself available to meet with students who have questions.
Despite the current media glare, most students believe that Pres will weather the storm. “I think in the future, everything’s going to be fine because in other schools where similar things have happened, everything calmed down,” Venkatesan said.