Widgets Magazine

OPINIONS

Rape, Stanford and the Title IX Office’s failures

There were four rapes committed by three men: a rape in a Stanford dorm room in 2010, a rape in a University of San Francisco dorm room in 2013, a rape in a hotel room in Mountain View in 2013 and a rape in an apartment in Daly City in 2014. That’s it. You’re caught up. Now, let’s talk about Stanford and how they’ve failed us miserably.

I am a Stanford alumna from the class of 2014. After submitting these four sexual assault reports to the Stanford Title IX Office on Jan. 26, 2018, I was told the office could pursue a formal investigation into only one of the sexual assaults: a rape committed by a former member of the Stanford football team that took place in my dorm room on campus during the Stanford spring quarter of 2010.

Title IX Outreach and Student Resources Manager Miranda Tuttle, as well as lead Title IX Investigators Kristen Kreple and Sophia Khan, guaranteed me there were plenty of potential “safety measure” outcomes for an “alumni” rape. They told me that they could ban my alumnus rapist from campus (where I still reside), ban him from alumni events (which I attend) and ban him from Stanford-affiliated events (to protect me and others). This satisfied me. It wasn’t jail, but it could protect this community. They told me there was nothing they could “do” about the three additional rapes I endured off campus by non-members of this community while a student here.

I attended three formal meetings with the women in charge of my case at the Title IX Office and dropped by informally several other times. Dutifully, I spent hours filling out sexual assault reports, crafting pre-interview statements for the investigators and locating five potential witnesses in addition to my rapist. It was awkward and upsetting to call up witnesses, explain the details of my rape investigation and ask if they would testify on my behalf. Every witness I called agreed to testify.

Still, when the verdict arrived, not a single witness had been contacted by Stanford’s Title IX Office. The rapist had not been contacted. Title IX Coordinator Catherine Glaze (who publicly announced her retirement in March) decided neither my rapist nor I are appropriately “affiliated” with the university; we do not qualify as “members” of this community.

I have lived on the Stanford campus my entire life. I was raised here and live here to this day. My father is a faculty member. I am a member of the Stanford Alumni Association and participate in alumni events. However, the Stanford Title IX Office told me I fail to meet the criteria for a “Stanford community member,” whom Stanford “will take action to assist,” according to its latest report on sexual assault and harassment. The office took no steps to protect this community from the three men who raped me for this reason.

Glaze did not launch a formal investigation into my on-campus assault despite the fact that my alumnus rapist has a university-affiliated email address. He represents this school every time he sends an email and is a member of a Stanford Alumni Directory social media interface administered by Stanford. I can “add him as a friend” and message him through this Stanford-run site. Still, Glaze told me my rapist failed to meet the criteria for a “member” of this community. She refused to move forward with my formal rape investigation, to ban this violent offender from campus, alumni events or Stanford-affiliated events.

Rape is a violent crime, lest we forget, and, in my eyes, the Stanford Title IX Office’s failure to protect current students, alumni and community members from violent sexual predators does impede equal access to education at Stanford, thereby violating the stipulations of Title IX, a federal law.

In the Stanford Title IX Administrative Process that I was told is used to address “alumni” sexual assaults, the words “alumni” and “affiliated” are, actually, not mentioned once. Under this process’ guidelines, my alumnus rapist would likely fall into the category of a respondent who is an “other member of the Stanford community” if that designation were approached fairly. My off-campus rapists would be approached as “external party” respondents. If Glaze ruled that I am a “member” of this community, she could have taken steps to protect Stanford from all three of my rapists by administering policy violation rulings with “safety measure” outcomes. She did not.

I can meet the Title IX Office’s standard of proof to convict my alumnus rapist of a sexual assault policy violation. In fact, I can far exceed their call for a “preponderance of evidence.” But Glaze is shutting down alumni cases before they get started. Why?

Well, I have my own theories.

Enter Brock Turner. You know who he is. You know what he did. Stanford is on its back foot, scrambling to save face in the wake of a rape that riled international consternation. The provost Persis Drell has been flooding Stanford community inboxes: announcing Stanford’s first Annual Title IX/Sexual Harassment Report, asking for input to the Advisory Committee on Sexual Assault Policies and Practices, inviting feedback on the pilot annual report to her office’s personal email address. Last year’s report detailed 11 formal investigations into non-consensual intercourse, but 29 total instances of non-consensual intercourse were reported. Formal investigations were not launched into the vast majority of rapes reported to Stanford University during the 2016-2017 school year. Why?

Well, investigations can fail to move forward for a variety of reasons, but this concerning gulf between the number of rapes reported and the number of investigations launched also has something to do with how the Title IX Office is defining a “community member.” This begs the question: what does Stanford stand to gain by reducing the definition of a “member of the Stanford community” to the most miniscule and absurd of subjective interpretations?

In my particular case, they told me that alumni are not members of the Stanford community, the families of faculty members are not members of the Stanford community, people who were raised on campus are not members of the Stanford community, people who live on campus are not members of the Stanford community, individuals with Stanford-affiliated email addresses are not members of the Stanford community, representatives of the Stanford Alumni Association are not members of the Stanford community, complainants who participate in alumni events are not members of the Stanford community and individuals with active profiles on Stanford social media websites are not members of the Stanford community.

It is in Stanford’s “best interest” (but not the student body or community’s best interest) to deny as many investigation launchings as possible to save time and avoid publicly having to report on them in the brand new Annual Title IX/Sexual Harassment Report that the Provost (and others) have, very recently, been doing so much press about.

Whether intentional or otherwise, by helping to squeeze the definition of a “Stanford community member” smaller and smaller, the Title IX Office at Stanford can launch less formal investigations into rapes, rape cases that may otherwise have resulted in policy violation verdicts and “safety measure” outcomes that would protect our community.

Glaze has said that the way she is handling alumni rape cases does not impede equal access to education at Stanford however, I think it does. Violent alumni and external party rapists traversing this campus with impunity, because the Title IX Office does not consider them (or the people they attacked) legitimate “members” of our community, erects a huge barrier between current students and their educations. The Title IX Office at Stanford is not protecting the lives of Stanford students by refusing to investigate rapes, least of all their access to safe and equal educations.

On March 1, 2018, Glaze emailed me: “it is not appropriate for you to blame the Title IX Office for your decision to file four [sexual assault] reports when you knew from the outset that three were not situations we could address.”

The three “situations” they, professedly, could not “address” were violent rapes that took place while I was sober as an undergraduate student at Stanford. I lost copious amounts of blood during one of those rapes. Physical struggles took place in all three of them.

There is a matching system in the “Callisto” interface used to report rape at Stanford. If an individual submits a report alleging misconduct by a man or woman, Callisto can work to match that person’s name with names mentioned in other reports. This is how potentially dangerous individuals can be quickly identified. This matching system is used to protect our community. Yet, Glaze scolded me for submitting my four reports.

I do not know how many rapes will be reported to the Title IX Office during this school year. However, I do know that, if I submitted my four rape reports last year, that would have increased Stanford’s 2016-2017 “rapes reported” tally by over 10 percent.

Is that why the coordinator censured me? Her castigation affected me deeply.

Glaze never said: “Thank you, we can use these reports to protect current and future students, in our research, to gain a better understanding of undergraduate rape experiences in general. These reports can help us file accurate statistics with appropriate authorities. We have an important algorithm used to identify potentially dangerous offenders. These reports could really help us moving forward.”

She never said that.

More importantly, Glaze never told me: “Ellery, you are a valued member of our community. You say these three men raped you. How can we protect this community? You say that three of these rapes took place off campus and were committed by external parties. That doesn’t matter, because you are a member of this community. We can do something about this. We want to protect you, your family, this community and, above all, equal access to education at Stanford. How can we work, together, to make that happen?”

No. Glaze said my “decision” to file four rape reports was not her fault. She said I should have known they could not “address” three of them.

The truth is: They would not address three of them. The truth is: They would not address four of them. The truth is: They did not address any of them, and this community has been left, frighteningly and fully: unprotected.

Catherine Glaze will retire in July. It is my hope that Stanford finds a replacement Title IX Coordinator who is more fiercely committed to protecting this community from people who rape and brutalize Stanford students moving forward.

 

Ellery Dake ’14