What happened with Slavik?


Elke Teichmann

Mary Jo Pruitt poses with Tiktok dancer Slavik after the annual Pep Rally.

On Friday, September 24, 2021, Castilleja held its first pep rally in two years after the coronavirus pandemic.

The pep rally began with a fall sports and clubs celebration, and following was a song performed by the Glee Club and a dance by the Dance Production Workshop (DPW).

But perhaps the most memorable event was a performance by Slavik Pustovoytov, also known as itsslavik, a TikTok dancer with 1.9 million followers on Instagram and a whopping 4.5 million on TikTok. Even though many were confused about who this man was, he presented a sensational dance that roused the crowd with bursts of applause and cheering. His performance at Castilleja reached over 1 million views on both TikTok and Instagram.

However, the next day, Mia Ramirez ’24 alerted a group chat about the inappropriate comments that filled the comment section of his TikTok video. It was flooded with sexist statements about how Castilleja students, namely the cheerleaders, were infatuated with Slavik and his dance.

“I bet those teenage girls were going crazy !!,” commented one user. “Imagine being a teenage girl in this crowd 🥵🤣,” said another. “Did someone mop up the cheerleaders’ droll [sic] off the floor after 😂.”

Many students have thoughts about these comments:

“I think they’re disgusting,” declared Avery Neuner ’24. “These people are talking about minors who did not give consent to be in that video in a really inappropriate way and making hurtful assumptions about them.” Tanvi Prasad ’24 added, “I think it was very inappropriate for adults to talk about minors like this.”

“They are disgusting; we are kids,” exclaimed a classmate. “The youngest are 11 and people are writing this.” She also remarked that the school should “talk to [Slavik] about this and ask him to delete the post or apologize or something.”

“The comments I found were so disturbing,” shared Dineo Molotsi ’25. “I felt bad for a lot of my 8th grade friends. They were being shamed and sexualized on the internet for no reason.” She added that many she knew were discussing it: “Some of my 8th grade friends reached out to me about it,” and “it kind of just spread around in my social groups.”

Antonia Ross ’24 appeared in the posted video as one of the cheerleaders sitting on the gym floor. When she saw some of the comments, Ross “began to feel extremely uncomfortable.” When she realized it was her in the video, she was “frustrated by how these comments were portraying [her], especially because this event was required, and [she] did not choose to attend it or sit where [she] was sitting.”

Though Slavik did not intentionally mean harm when posting the video, “I still think the comments should have been moderated or possibly turned off because there is no control over what people will say and as we see in this case,” suggested Ross, “sometimes it turns out hateful.”

Others believed that the school should take action. Prasad concurred, replying that the comments were “inappropriate” and that the school should have at least “told Slavik to censor the post if he did want to post.”

“I think in the future Castilleja should be more careful about teaming up with people out in the world, especially influencers such as Slavik himself,” urged Molotsi. “And while there’s not much to do about it now, keeping the school name and the influencer as separate as possible helps students feel more safe on the Internet.”

“I believe the school should advocate for their students,” concluded Neuner. “At the very least, they should provide a space for affected students to process what happened, but they really should be reaching out to Slavik and getting the video taken down.”

Later, the school did so. Anne Rubin, Head of Upper School, “was notified on Sunday after the pep rally about the comments on the post” and “took some screenshots [of the comments on TikTok] then connected with the leadership team. [They] talked about next steps, and then [they] circled back to his agent and asked for the comments to be turned off or removed.”

“In terms of takeaways for our community,” Rubin continued, “it was disappointing to see the tenor of some of the comments, but there was nothing surprising about them. Sexism and misogyny is built into our culture, and the internet is a place where they are most visible. Personally, as a woman of color, I make a point to never read comments on the internet, because people tend to be the worst versions of themselves.On the internet, we can’t win every fight, so we have to figure out what conflicts we have the bandwidth for in order to protect our mental health.”

Rubin added, “This situation gives us a chance to talk about how we might consider what actions we take as individuals or as a school when this kind of thing happens. Everything,” she finished, “is a learning opportunity.”

Slavik has taken down the video and with it, the comments. Today, it cannot be found on TikTok and is only available on Instagram, where the comment section is filled with praise for Slavik’s dance, and no inappropriate comments towards the students can be found.

So thank you, Slavik, for making the right move and protecting the young girls who had been subjected to such inappropriate comments. Thank you, administrators, for listening to our voices and taking the steps to keep your students from harm. And thank you, students, for having the courage to speak up and make a difference.