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Stanford Womxn’s March calls for end to ‘campus rape culture’

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Stanford students and community members marched at White Plaza on Saturday to protest “campus rape culture” and show solidarity for global womxn’s issues. The 2020 event marks the third annual Womxn’s March on Stanford’s campus and was hosted by Stanford Womxn in Law (SWIL).

In the lead-up to the march, SWIL circulated a petition to “Help hold Stanford administration accountable for ending campus rape culture.” The demands call for action and policy measures including “continued sexual harassment and assault education, hiring more Title IX investigators, and increasing funding for research and student support services around the issue.” 

“The primary goal of this march … is to create a space that pushes the feminist conversation to be more inclusive and intersectional,” said SWIL co-founder Chloe Stoddard ’21, who has organized the annual Stanford Womxn’s March since its inception in 2018. “I hope the march and petition, which received over 800 signatures and was endorsed by ASSU and the Graduate Student Council, sends the message that as a community, we are tired of having our safety and wellbeing be put on the back burner.”

The event, which began at 11 a.m. at White Plaza, saw dozens of attendees. A group of organizers and activists led chants and spoke on campus issues such as sexual assault, racially motivated acts of intolerance and the need for greater gender inclusivity. The march culminated in a walk to Main Quad and the presentation of the petition to Provost Persis Drell. 

Arianna Togelang ’22, one of the march’s organizers, said that it was powerful to see the Stanford community join in chants and songs and hear from student speakers. 

“People chanting and singing songs and the way the speakers built on each other, those were definitely highlights,” she said.

The march comes four months after the release of the results of Stanford’s AAU campus climate survey, which found record-low confidence in the resources that Stanford provides to students and individuals who have experienced non-consensual sexual contact. According to the survey, only 33% of women who experienced non-consensual penetration reached out to campus programs or resources, and 30% of those who did not seek resources said that they did not think that the University could give them the help they needed. 

The Womxn’s march followed other demonstrations against the perceived failure of the University administration to take action against sexual assault. At the annual Big Game between UC Berkeley and Stanford football in November, student activists wearing all black hung a banner reading, “40% of Stanford women experience unwanted sexual contact.” 

That same month, two anonymous individuals or groups installed plaques with a quote rejected by Stanford administrators at the contemplative garden that marks the site where Chanel Miller was sexually assaulted.

While the Stanford Womxn’s March was held on the same day as the national Women’s March, SWIL has distanced themselves from the national movement, which some criticize for its lack of intersectionality. 

“This march strives to practice intersectional feminism meaning that the intersections of gender identity, race, religion, ethnicity, language, socio-economic background/class, ability, sexual orientation, and immigration status among many others are important aspects of one’s identity and are to be respected, embraced, and advocated for in this march,” SWIL stated in a Facebook event post for the march.

Moving forward, Stoddard urged students to get involved in efforts to change campus culture and make Stanford a safer and more inclusive space for all people.

“Students demanding change together means that the administration is in a place that they must react to this information and make the appropriate institutional changes in order to put an end to sexual assault and harassment on this campus,” Stoddard said.

Contact Brooke Beyer at bbeyer ‘at’ stanford.edu and Cooper Veit at cveit ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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Brooke Beyer '22 is a Desk Editor for the News section. She is originally from Los Altos, California but grew up in London and Singapore. Brooke is studying International Relations and English, with a focus on history and human rights.
Cooper Veit '22 is an opinions writer and amateur Steinbeck scholar from San Francisco. Talk to him about the work and life of John Steinbeck.