“You took away my worth, my privacy, my energy, my time, my safety, my intimacy, my confidence, my own voice, until today.” A plaque emblazoned with this quote from author Chanel Miller was installed by University on Monday morning, at the site where she was sexually assaulted in 2015.
The plaque’s installation follows years of debate within Stanford’s administration, which initially rejected Miller’s proposed quotes on the grounds that they would “not be supportive in a healing space for survivors.” The selected quotation is from Miller’s victim statement, which received national attention after she published it under a pseudonym in 2016.
University spokesperson E.J. Miranda told The Daily on Monday that the plaque was in place “to help carry forward” the message that the garden was established “to honor and support” sexual violence survivors and let visitors reflect on obligations to the safety and wellbeing of community members.
The University reversed its decision on the quote this fall after an outpouring of student support following the September publication of Miller’s memoir “Know My Name.” Provost Persis Drell announced in November that the administration had reached out to Miller with plans to go forward with the quotation she had initially proposed.
Although no timeline was specified, Miranda told The Daily at the time that the installation would proceed “as soon as feasible.” At a Faculty Senate meeting on Jan. 23, Drell said that the installation’s delay was due to a sizing error in the initial plaque.
The delay has drawn staunch criticism from Miller’s supporters and advocates for survivors of sexual violence.
“Can I please have back the years of my life I spent chasing @Stanford to keep the promise it made in writing in 2016?” tweeted Michele Dauber, Stanford Law School professor and a longtime advocate for Miller, in response to the plaque’s installation. “Years of my life I can never get back were wasted.”
Dauber also led the successful effort to recall then-judge Aaron Persky ’84 M.A. ’85, who was criticized for what many viewed as a lenient sentencing of Brock Turner, the former Stanford swimmer and convicted felon who assaulted Miller. Persky was recalled on June 6, 2018.
Two plaques bearing the same quotation were created and installed by student activists without University approval in October and November, respectively. One of the student plaques remains in place.
In addition to Miller’s words, a second plaque is being installed at the entrance to the memorial garden, providing phone numbers for sexual violence helplines both on and off campus.
“This is a contemplative space that seeks to honor and support survivors of sexual violence and remind us of our obligations to the safety and wellbeing of all in our community,” it reads.
This article has been updated to include further information from Miranda about the plaque’s installation.
Contact Grace Carroll at gac23 ‘at’ stanford.edu.