A small silver plaque recently appeared on a bench at the spot where Chanel Miller was assaulted by former Stanford swimmer and convicted felon Brock Turner in 2015, now a contemplative garden. The plate reads, “You took away my worth, my privacy, my energy, my time, my safety, my intimacy, my confidence, my own voice — until today.”
An unknown individual installed the plaque with the statement, after the University rejected it on the grounds that the quote might have a detrimental effect on survivors of sexual assault. The passage comes from Miller’s victim impact statement, with the punctuation slightly altered.
Since Miller has identified herself as Turner’s victim and published her memoir “Know My Name,” the Undergraduate Senate, the Graduate Student Council, the Faculty Senate and more than 2,000 petition signatories have called for the plaque to be installed.
Campus newsletter the Fountain Hopper (FoHo), which first reported on the plaque’s appearance, wrote that the individual who installed the plaque told the outlet: “By refusing to place Chanel Miller’s quote on the memorial site, Stanford’s administration has shown a stark lack of empathy and respect for survivors of sexual assault.” The FoHo did not name the individual.
The plaque “will remain in place while the provost’s review of the issue continues,” Stanford spokesperson E.J. Miranda told The Daily. “The provost is fully considering input provided by the university community,” he added, confirming that the University did not install the plaque.
Miranda wrote that the University became aware of the plaque on Friday. The FoHo’s editor, who requested anonymity due to the nature of their publication, told The Daily that a reporter had confirmed its existence on Oct. 27.
“Stanford’s disregard clearly shows in their refusal to put Miller’s quote on the bench; will they disrespect survivors even further by removing it now that it’s there?” the plaque’s installer told The FoHo, asserting that they would replace the plaque if the University removed it.
Stanford Law School professor Michele Dauber, an advocate of Miller, said she thought the installation of the plaque was a response to inadequate action on the part of University leaders.
“Students taking matters into their own hands this way is a direct result of the poor leadership that Marc Tessier-Lavigne and Persis Drell have shown,” she said, referring to Stanford’s president and provost, “by reneging on their promise to Chanel Miller and by refusing to correct that mistake even when the entire student and faculty leadership has asked them to do it.”
Responding to the installation, Associated Students of Stanford University (ASSU) President Erica Scott ’20 and Vice President Isaiah Drummond ’20 wrote in a statement to The Daily: “We hope the administration takes this as a sign that continued inaction is unacceptable.”
“As institutional support is vital for affirming survivors,” they added, “we still believe it is necessary for the University to install an official plaque, and we expect the current plaque to remain in place until that occurs.”
Former ASSU President Shanta Katipamula ’19 M.S. ’20, who has advocated for Miller, echoed that sentiment in a statement to The Daily.
“I hope the Provost sees how wrong this picture is — the community once again taking matters into their own hands after the University has shown their unwillingness to do the right thing,” she wrote.
Katipamula commended the plaque’s installer “for showing more courage than the administration.”
Stanford’s community has overwhelmingly expressed support for Miller, with students hosting a solidarity rally and creating an app “Dear Visitor” that used augmented reality to allow users to see and hear Miller’s chosen quotes at the site of her assault.
Marianne Lu contributed to this report.
Contact Leily Rezvani at lrezvani ‘at’ stanford.edu and Charlie Curnin at ccurnin ‘at’ stanford.edu.