As players took the field and fans cheered on their team, spectators of this year’s Big Game between Stanford and UC Berkeley were reminded of the ongoing discussions surrounding sexual misconduct on Stanford’s campus. A group of Stanford students wore all black and hung a banner that read “40% of Stanford women experience unwanted sexual contact,” a statistic approximated from the recent Association of American Universities (AAU) campus climate survey.
After they hung the banner, six students were escorted out of the stadium by campus security, according to one of the demonstration organizers, who requested anonymity out of fear of further repercussions.
In a press release, the organizer wrote, “Stanford has a long way to go in making survivors feel protected and supported.” She believes the University should “disband” all fraternities and remove their housing to discourage a culture that the organizer finds has been proven to be dangerous towards women.
The AAU survey found that 14.2% of respondents experienced at least one nonconsensual sexual incident since beginning Stanford. According to the survey, 38.5% of respondents who were undergraduate women in their fourth year or higher experienced at least one nonconsensual sexual encounter while at Stanford. The results also revealed a lack of confidence in University resources to to address sexual violence.
This demonstration comes at a tumultuous time for campus conversation surrounding sexual violence. Both students and faculty placed pressure on the University to install a plaque with a quote chosen by Chanel Miller, rape victim of former Stanford swimmer and convicted felon Brock Turner; Former Title IX Coordinator Jill Thomas resigned at the end of October; and there has been a recent spike in druggings, potential druggings and assaults reported to Stanford Public Safety.
In a video released on Nov. 8, Vice Provost for Student Affairs Susie Brubaker-Cole voiced concern in the wake of the assault and drugging reports, AAU data and release of Miller’s story.
“As we look what to do next, please know that I am committed to holding accountable anyone who is causing harm in these ways,” she said.
Saturday’s banner at Stanford was not the only demonstration that took place at a college football game today. At the game between long-standing rivals Harvard and Yale, students and alumni from both schools united in a joint effort to urge their universities to divest from fossil fuels, private prisons and Puerto Rican debt, postponing the second half of the game.