Alumni letter follows faculty letter criticizing campus climate survey

April 20, 2016, 10:27 a.m.

This story has been updated.

On Monday, 93 Stanford alumni signed an open letter to the Board of Trustees, the Faculty Senate and the University administration criticizing the Campus Climate Survey on sexual assault.

In a similar vein to alumni involvement in protests about fossil fuel divestment, student discontentment over this year’s campus climate survey has now reached the alumni community, and as a result, Stanford alumni have threatened to withhold their donations.

Students overwhelmingly expressed a desire for a new Campus Climate Survey – 90.6 percent of students voted in favor of re-administering the Campus Climate Survey in a referendum on the spring ballot.

The letter from alumni comes less than a week after 27 Stanford faculty wrote a letter to the Faculty Senate expressing their disappointment about the same survey.

“The University is denying what we feel is a reasonable request to re-administer the survey using the most common survey used by our peer schools that will allow us to compare Stanford’s data to that of other institutions,” wrote the faculty.

In their letter, alumni raised the threat of action in the event that Stanford does not administer a second, modified Campus Climate Survey.

“If it does not, we and many other alumni will be forced to reconsider our voluntary financial support of the University,” the alumni wrote.

In the letter, whose signatories include alumni from each of Stanford’s undergraduate, graduate and professional schools, the group was critical of Stanford’s definition of sexual assault. Stanford currently rejects the methodology adopted by the Association of American Universities (AAU), instead choosing a proprietary definition. According to the letter’s signatories, “some behavior that would constitute a felony would be classified as ‘sexual misconduct,’ rather than assault.

Provost Etchemendy responded to the alumni group in a letter on April 17.

“Within Stanford’s ban on all unwanted sexual conduct, the university has long used a definition of sexual assault, specifically, that parallels the definition in California law,” wrote Provost Etchemendy in the letter. “We have believed this consistency to be important for a variety of reasons.”


Contact Nitish Kulkarni at nitishk2 ‘at’

Nitish Kulkarni '16 is a senior majoring in Mechanical Engineering. He writes about technology and breaking news, and runs online content sections. Email him at nitishk2 'at'

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