I write in response to a recent article regarding the installment of a landmark in the space where Brock Turner sexually assaulted a woman two years ago. This decision is insensitive to survivors of sexual violence and lacks ownership of the role Stanford University played in this appalling incident.
The construction of a supposedly scenic spot in the exact area where Turner raped an unconscious woman, who has since remained anonymous, is difficult to be seen as anything but a way to divert the University’s funds and effort into masking the true underlying issues behind university-based sexual assault. Turning this tragic event into a simple monument fails to denote any real progress made by the University towards ending sexual assault on campus. Instead, the installment mainly serves as a constant reminder of what is now considered an epidemic on college campuses nationwide and the lack of change being enacted to combat this.
Michele Dauber, the Stanford law professor who proposed the park, stated herself that “more is to be done.” In that same statement, she purported that the University deserves “substantial credit” for its agreement to create the park. However, the University deserves no credit for its present efforts to end sexual assault.
A 2016 survey of Stanford students showed that only 2.7 percent of victims reported their sexual assaults. In 2014, a male student was found guilty of assaulting Leah Francis, and the University punished him with a “forced gap year” before his Stanford graduate program, delaying his suspension and community service until after his graduation. Brock Turner is just another figure in the long pattern of Stanford’s refusal to acknowledge that its culture of sexual assault begins with the University. Sure, Stanford made steps in the right direction with Turner’s case by expelling him and banning him from the campus, a sentence unprecedented in prior sexual assault cases in the University’s history, but a park is not a step forward.
In Stanford’s statement regarding Turner’s case, the University attempted to eschew all culpability through stating it “did everything within its power.” Even though multiple student groups have pushed for Stanford to apologize for its horrifically insensitive history of sexual assault on its campus, no apology has ever been issued. No sexual assault program for survivors can do as much as if Stanford were to recognize the role that it plays in preventing victims from speaking out and in perpetuating its culture of sexual assault. Making a public park is not an apology. Stanford must do better to provide its students with an environment that allows survivors to come forward and with more resources to prevent all forms of sexual assault in the future.
— Adria Stauber, UC Berkeley ’18
Contact Adria Stauber at astauber ‘at’ berkeley.edu.