Students Create Instagram Account to Anonymously Share Menlo Students’ Stories About Sexual Harassment and Violence


Two Menlo students start Instagram account @metoomenlo to give a platform for students to share stories about sexual harassment and violence. Staff illustration: Sophie Fang.

Charlotte Palmer, Copy Editor

Disclaimer: this article contains discussion of sexual harassment, assault and rape. 

The @metoomenlo Instagram account, created as a Menlo-specific continuation of the #MeToo movement, first published an anonymous survivor’s story on July 19, 2021. As of Monday, Nov. 2, the account has published 15 more anonymous stories. In response, Head of School Than Healy sent an email to the Menlo community addressing the account and the school’s procedure for allegations of sexual harassment or violence.

Two of the account’s posts aim to promote conversation concerning slut-shaming at Menlo or unfair expectations for girls during sex. The other 14 posts are survivors’ stories of being sexually harassed, assaulted or raped. Six of them explicitly mention that the perpetrator was a current Menlo student or alum.

On Oct. 3, 2021, the account published a post describing sexual harassment on Menlo’s campus and sexual assault perpetrated by Menlo students. The anonymous contributor named Menlo’s administration and student culture as partially responsible for the lack of survivors speaking up about their abuse. On Oct. 12, 2021, Healy sent an email to Menlo students and families addressing the post, urging students to come forward to the school and offering resources and solidarity to victims. “I’m sharing this letter today because I believe that unless students know that leaders are interested, care, and will treat student reports with integrity, it makes reporting harder for victims and further adds to an already unbearable load for a victim of assault or harassment to have to carry,” Healy said in the email.

The owners of the @metoomenlo Instagram account followed up by creating a forum on their Instagram story for the Menlo community to share their thoughts about Healy’s email. Some anonymous commentators believed Healy’s email was a step in the right direction towards changing the administration’s approach to allegations of sexual harassment and assault, and took comfort knowing that Healy said the administration cares and wants to help. However, others used the forum to voice their concerns that the email was a way for Menlo to preserve its reputation and respond with words instead of actions. The number of anonymous contributors that expressed views either in support or against the administration was not published on the account.

In the email, Healy discussed possible changes in the administration’s process regarding allegations of sexual violence. “Though the leaders of this school, myself included, feel strongly that we have addressed all allegations of sexual assault and harassment with integrity, we continually review our internal processes and support systems,” Healy said in the email. Menlo administrators have also asked for the opinion of outside counsel, according to Healy.

Menlo administrators may also be making changes to their sex education curriculum, according to Healy. “We are reviewing our educational program around issues of consent and our support structures, believing that we can always improve on what we do as a school,” Healy said in the email. “If there are students feeling unsafe and unheard in our student body, we still have some work to do to create a culture where every victim feels that they can come forward.”

The two owners originally created the account as a community engagement project last summer due to the culture they witnessed among students. “Last year, when we were back [at] school [in person], there were a lot of insensitive comments and jokes about sexual assault and rape, especially from guys,” one owner said. “[The comments were] probably really scarring for anyone who has had any experience like that to hear.” The owners decided to create the @metoomenlo account to raise awareness about victims of sexual assault at Menlo. “Not a lot of people talk about actual student experiences with sexual violations,” one owner said.

The @metoomenlo account was also inspired by similar accounts that were created at other schools, including but not limited to those in the Bay Area. “Our research was interviewing other people who ran similar accounts at universities and high schools, and through that we had some Zoom [calls] with the girl who runs the [Washington University] #MeToo account,” one owner said. “She was very caring and eager to reach out to us and become our mentor. She’s been supporting our account since the very beginning.” The Washington University student has used her account to post comments encouraging survivors on many @metoomenlo posts. The @metoomenlo owners also communicated with the owners of accounts at 10 other schools, including Los Gatos High School, New York University, University of Virginia and Brown University.