We Stand For Better Sexual Violence Policies and Practices
With the rise of the #MeToo movement, we are at a national tipping point in discussing sexual violence. However, the voices of campus survivors have largely been excluded from this movement as have survivors from communities who disproportionately experience sexual violence (such as queer, trans, gender-nonconforming, male-identifying, disabled, low-income, and/or women of color folks). Since the Brock Turner case, there has been a national and even international spotlight on Stanford and its mishandling of sexual violence cases. We have an opportunity to use this moment of national reckoning to require Stanford to change its policies and practices as they relate to Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 so that they are better able to meet the needs of survivors.
- Embrace intersectionality - We recognize that sexual violence affects students who identify with one or more marginalized community, including the transgender, FLI, POC, and disability communities, much differently and that in all of our conversations about reforming Stanford’s Title IX policies and practices, we must bring these voices and experiences to the table.
- Diverse and Representative Support Staff - In recognizing the diversity of our community and the identities of our survivors, we must ensure that those who assist survivors in the aftermath of an assault are from more diverse backgrounds than they currently are. This includes counselors at the Confidential Support Team as well as lawyers available to represent survivors through Stanford's Title IX Attorney program. We need people who can support women of color, transgender, queer, and gender non-conforming folks, as well as students who are from the FLI and/or disability communities.
- 2019 Campus Climate Survey - We will continue pushing for Stanford to administer the American Association of Universities survey in 2019 and to establish a standing committee to continuously review and revise the campus climate survey.
- Callisto Implementation - Through Shanta's hard work and advocacy, last Spring the Provost announced that Stanford was entering into a three-year pilot of Callisto, an online mechanism for reporting sexual assault. However, we have found that the university has done a poor job of generating student awareness and knowledge around Callisto, with most people not even knowing what Callisto is. We will implement focus groups on the Title IX reporting process and awareness of Callisto this Spring and use those results to inform our advocacy to the Title IX Office to increase student awareness and engagement with Callisto next year.
- New Title IX Coordinator - Our current Title IX Coordinator, Cathy Glaze, recently announced that she is stepping down from her position. In the search for her replacement that will commence shortly, we will advocate for someone who not only understands Title IX and the legal challenges but also understands the realities of campus sexual violence, especially as faced by graduate students and our diverse campus communities.
- Leveraging Stanford's Platform - We have an opportunity to leverage Stanford's prominence and platform to advocate for the U.S. Department of Education to implement Title IX guidance that supports the right of survivors to have an education free from sexual violence. Last year, the Department of Education rescinded the 2011 Dear Colleague Letter guidance which had been used by countless survivors to seek justice from their universities. The Department of Education has announced a notice and comment period that will open shortly through which stakeholders and the public can provide input on new Title IX guidance. This past summer, when Betsy Devos announced that she would be rescinding crucial Title IX guidance, Shanta led an open letter to the President and Provost that garnered national attention and inspired many other similar letters to university administrators demanding that they commit to adhering to the processes established by the 2011 Title IX guidance. The President and Provost responded publicly to the letter promising that nothing was changing at the moment and that they were committed to participating in the Department of Education’s notice and comment period, a commitment that we will be actively holding Stanford admin to as the notice and comment period opens up in the coming weeks.
- Recognizing Student Labor - The burden of advocating for change often falls on student activists who are never recognized by the university for their work. We will uplift the voices and work of activists as well as spotlight changemakers around campus who are working on this issue both to raise awareness of the work students are doing as well as to support activists on our campus.
- Prevent Online Harassment of Admits - Student activists recently conducted a survey showing many admitted students are exposed to harassment through the "Class of" Facebook groups. Admitted students are often unaware of their rights and protections under Title IX and we promise to work with activists, the Office of Admissions, the Title IX Office and the SARA Office from preventing further online harassment.
- Stanford Coalition on Sexual Violence - This year's ASSU leadership assembled this coalition that has been incredibly effective in bringing together student government leaders, administrators, and activists to work together on prevention and response. Shanta is currently a member of this coalition and is working toward revised Title IX policies (see below), work that she hopes to continue as ASSU Exec.
- Redefine Sexual Assault - Stanford currently employs a very narrow and hard to understand definition of sexual assault. As Stanford considers changes to their policies, the first to change must be the definition. The new definition should use sexual assault as an umbrella term and remove the category of "sexual misconduct" as it is minimizing and demeaning of the experiences of survivors in our community.
- Eliminate Unanimity Requirement - Almost all universities, unlike Stanford, require a majority vote of a panel for both a finding of responsibility and for a sanction. Stanford must stop stacking the deck against survivors and require a majority vote rather than a unanimous vote.
- Increase Paid Lawyer Time - Stanford currently pays for lawyers for the both the complainant (survivor) and respondent (perpetrator) only up to 9 hours. As a result, in the Provost's first Annual Title IX/Sexual Harassment Report, we see that in almost every category of sexual violence, half of the investigations resulted in a non-hearing resolution. By limiting paid attorney time, Stanford is pushing complainants to pursue non-hearing resolutions rather than a hearing resolution because complainants may not have the financial resources to cover attorney time beyond the 9 hours paid for by Stanford. Every survivor should be able to seek justice on their own terms, regardless of socioeconomic status. Therefore, Stanford must significantly increase the amount of paid lawyer time.