At Faculty Senate, Stanford admin addresses GUP withdrawal, leaves questions on Chanel Miller’s quote unanswered

Nov. 8, 2019, 1:39 a.m.

University leadership addressed some of the most pressing issues on campus at Thursday’s Faculty Senate, including the University’s decision to reject Chanel Miller’s choice of quote for the plaque at the site of her 2015 sexual assault — a decision which Drell has defended amid student petitions and a unanimous Faculty Senate vote in support of Miller’s quote. President Marc Tessier-Lavigne also elaborated on some aspects of the general use permit (GUP) withdrawal, and a University data expert debriefed the Senate on some of the more concerning results from the campus climate survey on sexual assault. 

Chanel Miller

In the last week, two plaques with Chanel Miller’s chosen quotes were anonymously placed in the garden without University approval. Two weeks ago, the Faculty Senate unanimously voted to back an Associated Students of Stanford University (ASSU) resolution supporting Miller’s right to choose her quotes. Provost Drell did not offer any comment on these developments. 

“I don’t have anything to tell you today,” she said. 

The University rejected two of Miller’s proposed quotes for a plaque that would be placed at the site of her assault in 2015 by former Stanford swimmer and convicted felon Brock Turner. The space has now been re-landscaped into a commemorative garden.

GUP withdrawal

President Marc Tessier-Lavigne explained the University’s decision to withdraw its GUP application after three years of back-and-forth with Santa Clara County, citing two fundamental concerns with the process: infeasible conditions of approval and the inability to negotiate a development agreement proposed as a companion agreement to the permit. 

With regards to the first condition, Tessier-Lavigne cited difficulties Stanford faced in meeting new transportation requirements set forth by the County, which included extending peak rush hour from one to three hours and stipulating that Stanford include reverse commute trips in its environmental impact calculations. 

As for the development agreement, the President mentioned that the County had been uncooperative in negotiating a development agreement with Stanford, which could have stabilized the rules and regulations governing Stanford’s land development in exchange for benefits that Stanford would provide to surrounding communities. 

The County had previously halted negotiations in April, alleging that the University had violated ground rules in a separate negotiation with the Palo Alto Unified School District over a community benefits package. Board president Joe Simitian said in a previous interview with The Daily that the County has never used a development agreement before when processing a land use application. 

President Tessier-Lavigne also responded to criticisms that the GUP did not do enough to provide housing support for campus workers.

“There’s also been some commentary that Stanford withdrew its application because we weren’t genuinely committed to providing workforce housing. That is not true,” he said. “Over the course of the process, we increased our proposal for workforce housing from 550 new units to 1,307 units to 2,172 units, of which 933 would have been deemed affordable. In that way we matched the County’s request.”

Though Tessier-Lavigne acknowledged that the withdrawal of the GUP was a setback in the University’s goal of adding new buildings on campus, he also presented a set of alternatives that would help the University expand. These included building facilities with the existing square footage remaining under Stanford’s existing permit and exploring projects outside Stanford’s main campus. 

“I think we have heard from the community,” Tessier-Lavigne said. “We know a lot of things that are on people’s minds. I think that provides a very useful fodder for us as we go back and reflect on what a future application could look like.”

Sexual violence survey

Faculty members were debriefed on the findings of the 2019 campus climate survey, which focused on sexual assault and sexual misconduct. The survey had a 62% response rate, and 14.2% of respondents reported experiencing at least one incident of nonconsensual sexual contact during their time at Stanford. 

Brian Cook, Director of Assessment and Program Evaluation, began by discussing data collected on campus community, which found that 41% of Stanford students felt as if other students were concerned about each other’s well being, and 27% felt connected to the Stanford community. Only 12% of TGQN students (transgender, genderqueer, questioning or not listed) felt as if they were connected to the campus community.

Cook then moved onto sexual violence data, which the AAU labeled as nonconsensual sexual contact (with separate categories for penetration and sexual touching). The prevalence statistics are measured by students, not by occurrences. Overall, over 20% of all Stanford students experienced seuxal harassment since entering Stanford. 23.8% of Stanford undergraduate women and 21.7% of TGQN students have experienced nonconsensual sexual contact by physical force or inability to consent since entering the University. 

Approximately 50% of these occurrences happen in residence halls or dorms, and approximately 80% of the perpetrators attend Stanford. The survey found that after experiences with nonconsensual sexual contact, 90% of women on campus reported facing emotional consequences, and 46% of women on campus reported facing academic consequences. 

Cook’s presentation then moved on to the topic of sexual harassment, with 73% of women, 70% of TGQN students and 49% of men reporting to having experienced harassing behavior. Of the 33 schools that took the AAU survey, Stanford ranks within the top seven for reported sexual harassment.

Despite these numbers, the prevalence of actually contacting programs and resources were low — Cook noted that only 33% of women contacted a University resource about nonconsensual penetration. 

Of those who didn’t, 55% gave the reason that they felt their issue wasn’t serious enough  30% felt as if Stanford’s resources wouldn’t help. Of those who did, 18% said that campus resources were not at all helpful. 

Overall, only 19% of all victims contacted University resources. 

“Profound lack of trust of students for the administration is at the core of this,” Cook said. 

Stanford Emeriti Council report

Pediatrics professor emerita and Emeriti Council Chair Iris Litt reported on a recent survey of Stanford emeriti, which was designed to combat the issue that the University has “very little information about what happens to [faculty] after they retire.”

The Qualtrics survey, conducted on May 29 earlier this year, was comprised of 43 questions and reached out to 682 emeriti faculty. There was a 56% response rate, with an average age of 76.8, and a male-to-female ratio of 21 to 4. 

Litt moved the Faculty Senate through notable findings of the survey, and focused emeriti’s current relationship with Stanford. Eighty-five of the emeriti reported that they are involved in mentoring, and 74 are collaborating with active faculty. The majority of emeriti reported that they did not have any academic, office or lab space at Stanford. 

Litt lamented this finding, saying that “no centralized place for emeriti to gather on this campus means that those people are really out of sight and lack the ability to join with their colleagues in any intellectual way.” Despite the lack of physical space for them, however, the emeriti indicated that they enjoy some of their perks, especially library access, parking placards and having a Stanford email address.

At the end of the survey was an open-ended question intended to facilitate emeriti’s reflections on the transition to retirement. Litt’s conclusion on this section was that emeriti feel as if they’re “becoming invisible,” citing their responses, which included phrases and words such as “out of sight out of mind,” “ignored,” “useless” and “fall off the map.”

The conclusion drawn from this survey, according to Litt, is that emeriti are mostly fulfilled but desire more intellectual engagement, community involvement with their peers and involvement with students and Stanford. 

“We are really wasting a very valuable resource, a repository of human capital that has the best interest of this university at heart, a lot of experience with this institution, and much wisdom and guidance to provide,” Litt concluded.

Contact Max Hampel at mhampel ‘at’ and Berber Jin at fjin16 ‘at’

Berber Jin is a senior history major and desk editor for the university beat at the Daily. He enjoys covering university China policy and technology ethics, and is currently writing an honors thesis on the Caribbean anti-colonialist George Padmore. He is originally from New York, NY.

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