Ellis turns up the volume on issue of sexual harassment

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A mass of red, loud and eager, gathered around a table filled with magnifying glasses printed on pins, the words “Magnify the Muted” etched into bracelets, and “#VOLUMEON” written on sheets of paper.

Junior Gracie Ellis founded Magnify the Muted as an organization to reduce sexual violence by raising awareness of its prevalence in high school. On Jan. 22, Ellis asked students to wear red to help the movement gain involvement.

“I want to bring together groups of people from all grades and all genders who care about putting in work to raise awareness about the fact that sexual violence is happening so much more in high schools than people think,” Ellis said. “I feel like we brush over it a lot.”

Ellis said she had been thinking about starting this organization for several months, and told her parents about it one weekend over winter break.

“In a matter of 24 hours, I constructed the whole thing, made a logo for it, and made a plan,” Ellis said.

Ellis first announced her organization on Instagram, and when PHS alumni Daniella Mohazab, Class of 2014, saw the post, she realized Ellis’s efforts paralleled her experiences in starting her mental health website, Happy Pill.

Mohazab said she and Ellis talked on the phone for an hour and a half, sharing ideas for Magnify the Muted and insights about the root of sexual harassment.

“It gave me so much more confidence in starting [Magnify the Muted],” Ellis said.

To launch the organization and allow students to understand her mission, Ellis chartered Magnify the Muted as a school-affiliated club to hand out bracelets and pins to those wearing red on Jan. 22.

“We are trying to be loud and be a voice for people who cannot talk about it for whatever reason, and that’s w

hy I wanted it to be red,” Ellis said.

Community outreach director of ASB junior Shannon Landeer said that clubs can turn in forms to be chartered at any time of the year, and once a club is approved by ASB and the administration, it is official. Often clubs participate in club day to gain members, but Ellis publicized her club well on her own, so not participating in club day did not set her back, Landeer said.

Mohazab also recognized Ellis’s success and said that executing an informative event like Ellis’s 

requires drive and grit.

“She did that so quickly with a turn around of two weeks, which is unheard of,” Mohazab said. “If these are just the first few weeks of what [Ellis] has done, the possibilities are endless.”

Mohazab also said Ellis timed her first event well as it coincided with the Women’s March, the “Me Too” and   ‘Time’s Up” movements, and a focus on sexual assault in the media.

Senior Ava Biehn helped design the bracelets and pins handed out on Jan. 22.

Ellis said she made bracelets because sexual harassment starts from the party scene in high school and she wants to remind people not to cross any lines.

“Now we can see people who are actively caring and I can approach someone about it instead of being muted,” Ellis said.

The event was so successful that they used the backs of the club sign up sheets to fit all the interested students, Biehn said.

“[Ellis] has put so much work into this club,” Biehn said. “I just was there to support her and help with the pins and bracelets, but it is all h

er.”

Biehn said it is important to raise awareness and allow students to talk about sexual harassment as PHS does not have another club that solely focuses on it.

“[Biehn] has been the person who has been not just the support system, but been like ‘yes let’s do it,’ so that has been super helpful,” Ellis said

Ellis said that the annual Consent Assembly is powerful, but does not warn students about sexual harassment consistently throughout the year.

“People can get shocked for a week, but there needs to be something where people are constantly reminded that people are looking out for [sexual violence],” Ellis said.

Mohazab said that Ellis also is aware of  the importance of listening to one’s personal guard.

“Sometimes people just want to fit in or figure out what they really want by forcing their guards down instead of letting their guards down,” Mohazab said. “They force themselves to accept that feeling that they don’t want to do something.”

As Magnify the Muted gains momentum, Ellis says she hopes to bring speakers to campus and start fundraising.

“I want to end up raising money to go towards getting rape kits in hospitals,” Ellis said.

Mohazab’s entrepreneurship classes in college provided a foundation for her to start an organization, and without parallel years of experience, Ellis is on same level of maturity and intelligence as her, Mohazab said.

“With Happy Pill, I am really good at thinking about the overall picture, but the steps are hard for me,” Mohazab said. “[Ellis] sees both and is taking these steps and knows what’s next: both the big idea and how she wants to help people. It’s breathtaking how amazing she has done.”

Ellis said that a goal of hers is to increase involvement from boys because so far, it has been easy to get girls interested.

“I think growing it and keeping it on an uphill slope instead of a plateau is what I aim to and what I think is going to be pretty hard,” Ellis said.