As a University committee prepares to report on and potentially revise Stanford’s Title IX pilot process, many community members say aspects of the process –– and of Stanford’s broader attitude to sexual violence –– fall short.
We will be the first to acknowledge they will almost certainly need to be revised and enhanced over the next few years. It is that conviction—that Stanford can and should aspire to be a national leader in its handling of sexual violence, constantly striving to do better—that we hope will guide the next wave of student engagement with this issue.
While Stanford has a concrete definition of sexual assault, the SARA Office affirmed that before even consulting legal definitions, it is first up to the survivor to define what happened based on how they feel. I personally do not want to press charges; we both strayed blindly into grey areas that night. Luckily, I came out the other side without any traumatic emotional scarring or depression. However, not everyone may be so lucky if put in this situation. Never once have I called this woman my “attacker” or “assailant” because I didn’t emotionally respond as though it were an attack or an assault. To me, she’s just a student that made a mistake. However, she does deserve to know that what she did is defined as sexual assault. What she does not deserve is expulsion. We need to understand that we can’t solve these grey issues with black and white statements and punishments.
In a meeting that lasted over three hours, the 16th Undergraduate Senate met Tuesday night, setting a special election for funding reform and taking a stance on sexual assault reform efforts led by the University and the ASSU’s Executive Branch.