By Caleb Smith
On Sept. 22, Stanford President John Hennessy and Provost John Etchemendy emailed Stanford students a letter about Stanford’s recent actions against sexual assault. The letter strongly denounced sexual assault and declared its prevention a focus of the upcoming school year.
“Sexual violence has no place in the Stanford community,” the administrators wrote in the statement. “Our very concept of community here at Stanford is based on principles of personal integrity and respect for others.”
The letter noted Stanford’s past actions against sexual assault such as the creation of the Sexual Assault & Relationship Abuse Education & Response (SARA) office. The letter went on to say, however, that “more is needed, and Stanford is moving forward in a number of ways.” It called special attention to the Provost’s Task Force on Sexual Assault Policies, a new body established to review and improve Stanford’s policy. This group will study “education and prevention, support following an incident and adjudication of reported cases of sexual violence.”
Hennessy and Etchemendy went on to note the efforts of the Title IX office to combat sexual assault. They also announced that there will be a “campus-wide climate survey” later this year.
The letter also referenced state and national developments against sexual assault. On the state level, California recently adopted a new law defining sexual consent as affirmative consent rather than a lack of negative consent. The White House recently began a national awareness campaign against sexual assault called “It’s On Us”. The campaign asks students to sign a pledge to step in if they see potential sexual assault in progress. The letter also urged students who need resources related to sexual assault to visit http://notalone.stanford.edu/.
The letter from Hennessy and Etchemendy comes after criticism of Stanford’s policies on sexual assault last spring. Several hundred students turned out to protest the state of the policies on Jun. 5, 2014.
Contact Caleb Smith at caleb17 “at” stanford.edu.