On Wednesday, Provost Persis Drell published a “Notes from the Quad” blog post that included the statements originally proposed by Emily Doe to be inscribed onto a plaque marking the site of Doe’s Jan. 2015 sexual assault by then-Stanford swimmer Brock Turner.
Though much debate has arisen over the University’s debate with Doe’s representatives over the content of the future plaque, the substance of the original quotes had not been made public prior to this week.
Last fall, Stanford re-landscaped the area outside Kappa Alpha where the assault occurred. Doe, who has kept private her real name, proposed two options for a quote from the victim’s statement that she delivered to Turner at his 2016 sentencing — which has since been read in Congress and shared millions of times online — to be inscribed on a plaque, which would go on the landmark.
After Stanford rejected Doe’s proposed quotes and suggested more tempered passages from her statement — one proposal that drew particular scrutiny was, “I’m right here, I’m okay, everything’s okay, I’m right here” — Doe disaffiliated from the plaque.
Stanford Law professor and activist Michele Dauber, who is a family friend of Doe’s, specifically criticized the Stanford-proposed quote, which she described as “out of context.”
“Persis Drell owes Emily Doe an apology for this entire shameful episode,” Dauber said.
Drell, however, defended Stanford’s actions surrounding the marker.
“Any narrative that gives the impression that Stanford does not care about sexual violence or that we do not wish to support survivors hinders our ability as a community to move forward to address this issue,” Drell wrote in her post.
The first quote Doe proposed addressed the dismantling effect Turner’s assault had on her identity and her effort to reconstitute herself in the aftermath of the rape. It read:
“You made me a victim. In newspapers my name was ‘unconscious intoxicated woman,’ ten syllables, and nothing more than that. For a while, I believed that that was all I was. I had to force myself to relearn my real name, my identity. To relearn that this is not all that I am. That I am not just a drunk victim at a frat party found behind a dumpster, while you are the All-American swimmer at a top university, innocent until proven guilty, with so much at stake. I am a human being who has been irreversibly hurt, my life was put on hold for over a year, waiting to figure out if I was worth something.”
In her blog post, Drell said of the initially-proposed quotation, “While acknowledging the powerful nature of the suggested quote, I and others felt that it expressed sentiments that would not be supportive in a healing space for survivors.”
The second quote addressed similar themes. It read: “You took away my worth, my privacy, my energy, my time, my safety, my intimacy, my confidence, my own voice, until today.”
Drell explained that the University rejected the second quotation on the basis that it might trigger sexual assault survivors. She said that Stanford sought the advice of sexual violence counselors, who said that the excerpt could yield adverse effects for victims.
“We understand that experts can disagree on what is triggering, but we felt we should accept the professional judgment of those who work with our students who have survived sexual violence,” Drell wrote.
In a statement to The Daily, Dauber emphasized that the second quote contained no graphic content and said that it had been printed in headlines and graphics of mainstream publications, such as the Washington Post and Cosmopolitan.
“It is often cited as the emblematic quote of her powerful victim impact statement,” Dauber said. “There is absolutely no problem with this beautiful and moving quote, and Stanford should have graciously accepted it and completed the project as agreed.”
In a written statement to The Daily following the original publication of this article, Dauber said that Provost Drell publicly revealed the quotes “without consulting Doe and without her consent.”
University spokesperson Lisa Lapin said that as Stanford and Doe’s representatives deliberated on the issue last summer and fall, there was “no prohibition” on sharing the quotes.
“The first quote to be shared—in inaccurate and incomplete form—was shared with media by Emily Doe’s representative in January,” Lapin said, alluding to the “I’m right here, I’m okay, everything’s okay, I’m right here” line suggested by the University. “The Provost is simply providing complete, accurate information.”
The University’s rejection of Doe’s quotes prompted a wave of student activism in response to what critics say is censorship of Doe. At a rally last month organized by Stanford Association of Students for Sexual Assault Prevention (ASAP), around 60 students stood outside Kappa Alpha to demand that the University install Doe’s proposed quotes.
“I hope that Emily Doe feels like she is valued and she is listened to,” Alexis Kallen ’18 said at the time of the event. “We are here to fight for her and people like her.”
The rally occurred before Provost Drell made the quotes public this week.
“The sexual assault of Emily Doe at Stanford has changed our community forever,” Drell wrote. “It is our responsibility here at Stanford to work with our community to create and nurture a culture where similar events do not happen in the future, and I will work relentlessly to make that happen.”
This article has been updated to include comment from Stanford Law professor Michele Dauber and University spokesperson Lisa Lapin.
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Doe’s representatives made the quotes public. Only Provost Drell made the quotes public.
Contact Courtney Douglas at ccd4 ‘at’ stanford.edu.