Faculty Senate passes sexual assault resolution

April 28, 2016, 11:53 p.m.

On Thursday afternoon, the Faculty Senate unanimously approved a six-part resolution in response to the Associated Students of Stanford University’s (ASSU’s) resolutions regarding the Campus Climate Survey and sexual violence policies.

The resolution pushed for a detailed analysis of the 2015 Campus Climate Survey, revisions regarding the survey’s term definitions and expansion of sexual violence programs to include not only graduate students but also postdoctoral students and staff members. It also asked for follow-up surveys to identify program efficacy and long-term trends.

According to the resolution, the Campus Climate Survey has revealed “a deeply disturbing occurrence of prohibited sexual conduct” at Stanford.

The resolution itself did not specify what survey would be administered every three years, but the Faculty Senate reached a consensus that the survey would be a modified version of the 2015 Stanford Campus Climate Survey, not the Association of American Universities (AAU) survey used by Stanford’s peer institutions.

According to President John Hennessy, the current Campus Climate Survey shows “striking and troubling” results that require “support, education and adjudication.”

The Senate debated the value of using the different surveys but expressed a need to move beyond the information-gathering stage and to address the issue of sexual violence with more urgency.

Professor of medicine Andrew Hoffman proposed using the AAU survey in the future in accordance with the ASSU’s resolution and student referendum. This proposed amendment did not pass due to a lack of support.

Statistics professor Susan Holmes argued against implementing the AAU survey, claiming that Stanford should prioritize studying how sexual violence has changed over time, not how the University compares to its peer institutions. According to Hoffman, Stanford would lose the benefit of the first wave of data gathered from the 2015 climate survey if the AAU survey were to be implemented instead.

Biology professor Susan McConnell, who identified herself as a victim of relationship violence, agreed with avoiding the AAU survey for different reasons. She had taken both surveys and claimed that the AAU survey was inferior to Stanford’s. McConnell described the AAU survey as “a mess,” and said that other peer institutions “regret using that survey.” Dean of the School of Humanities and Sciences Richard Saller agreed, stating that the Stanford survey was “the gold standard of surveys.”

The Senate also discussed reconsidering Stanford’s definition of sexual assault, which McConnell asserted is very narrow. Computer science professor Jennifer Widom supported this move but also noted that Stanford’s current definitions follow California’s current legal definition of sexual assault.

The resolution’s provision regarding the expansion of support, education, prevention and adjudication programs to graduate students, post-doctorates and staff went uncontested.

Ultimately, the resolution passed unanimously without revision. However, Kathryn Moler, associate professor of physics and chair of the Academic Council, acknowledged that not everything the ASSU and student body wanted was included in the resolution.

Former ASSU President John-Lancaster Finley ’16 and former Vice President Brandon Hill ’16 thanked the Faculty Senate for their consideration and expressed gratitude that the resolution passed.

The Senate also heard reports from the Emeriti Council. During the past year, the Council featured a series of autobiographical speakers discussing themes of cross-disciplinary work, academia’s relation to the outside world and ethical dimensions tied to professors’ work. In addition, many professors emeriti wanted to become affiliated with certain residential dorms to connect with undergraduates. Once becoming affiliated, the professors could act as mentors and advisors to undergraduate students.

Chair of the Committee on Undergraduate Standards and Policies (C-USP) physics professor Sarah Church reported the responsibilities of C-USP and recent committee discussions. The C-USP reviews and evaluates undergraduate education policy and achievement. Although the committee did not propose any resolutions this year, they have recently looked into the trend of students taking incompletes in classes, revising the issuance of certificates and guidelines of course codes.


Contact Christina Pan at [email protected].

Faculty senate resolution by The Stanford Daily

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