Student board to advise Stanford on sexual violence policy

June 11, 2020, 12:01 a.m.

The Associated Students of Stanford University (ASSU) and the Office of the Provost are collaborating to reform sexual violence policy and programming through a new group, the Student Advisory Board on Sexual Violence and Survivor Support, in which both undergraduates and graduate students meet internally and with administrators to discuss Title IX policy and procedures. 

The advisory board was convened by Provost Persis Drell and the ASSU, with the ASSU unanimously passing a resolution to create the committee. The committee was created to provide “continuous recommendations and feedback on comprehensive and continuous sexual violence prevention, survivor advocacy support, and Title IX policy for the student community,” according to the legislation. 

The resolution creating the group was sponsored by Stanford Womxn in Law co-Founder and former social justice committee chair Chloe Stoddard ’21, Undergraduate Senator Jonathan Lipman ’21, ASSU co-Director of Sexual Violence Prevention Krithika Iyer ’21 and ASSU Sexual Violence and Relationsip Abuse Prevention Liason Julia Paris ’21.

“The benefit of establishing an official committee is that it provides a structured, consistent setting to work with administrators,” Paris said. “Having weekly meetings lets us voice our concerns as they arise — administrators can work between meetings to address them, and we can easily follow up. This structure increases administrators’ accountability to students.” 

The board has been meeting virtually every Tuesday during spring quarter, and is also reaching out to the student community to gauge perspectives on sexual violence policy, resources and prevention programming. 

“I think that hearing from students is something that we are going to continue to prioritize, because I see us as being this extension of the student body because we’re able to share their experiences in whatever way possible,” Stoddard said. “For example I’ve been working with the SARA Office and other administrators to work on reforming staff training, and I’m pushing for former RAs to be able to review what the administration is proposing this year in terms of training for sexual violence.” 

The board can “request a review of various programs and policies” in its subject area, and can send board members to Provostial, Residential Education (ResEd) and ASSU meetings related to sexual violence and survivor advocacy, as well as Title IX policy. 

Board members also serve on subcommittees relating to Sexual Violence Prevention Programming, Survivor Advocacy and Support, Title IX policy and the SARA Office. Per the legislation, two students on the advisory board were nominated by the provost, and all remaining members were nominated by the ASSU Nominations Commission. Board members include Paris, Brockbank, Iyer, Lipman, Stoddard, Christopher Maximos ’23, fourth-year sociology Ph.D. student and ASSU co-Director of Sexual Violence Prevention Emma Tsukrov, Katherine Worden ’23, Kirsten Mettler ’23, third-year medical student Neil Rens, Sydney Reese 23, Victoria Chiek ’22 and Zhi Xin Li ’23.

In the future, there will also be a regular application process to serve on the board, according to Stoddard. 

“We just want as many student voices as possible,” Stoddard said. “there’s so much value in having someone who’s a freshman as well as a fifth-year Ph.D. student, so we look for anyone who wants to apply to join.” 

The board also collaborates with several University offices, including ResEd, Student Affairs and the Office of the Provost through the Office of Institutional Equity and Access. The board will provide a report of recommendations to offices including the Office of the Provost and the Office of Institutional Equity and Access at the end of each quarter, and its primary University point of contact is Senior Associate Vice Provost of institutional Equity and Access Lauren Schoenthaler. 

“It is incredibly helpful to have a standing group to meet once a week to consult on matters in this space, including input on support services, and Stanford’s implementation of the Title IX regulations,” Schoenthaler said.  “My primary goal for this advisory committee is to ensure student input and guidance on supporting people in need, prevention education initiatives, and the University’s response to redress reports of sexual harassment and sexual assault.” 

Schoenthaler and board members said that addressing and adapting to the Department of Education’s new Title IX regulations is currently a “high priority” for them. 

“Right now, the goal is to ensure the new Title IX rules are implemented in a survivor-friendly and thoughtful way,” Lipman said. 

“We want to get a better response to what the community is thinking and feeling,” Stoddard said. “The whole focus now is about how to proceed forward and create the best path for students seeking justice.” 

The board is calling on the University to hold a week-long public comment period on proposed changes required to implement the new regulations. The ASSU Undergraduate Senate passed a resolution urging the University to do so on Tuesday night. 

A previous version of this article stated that Katherine Worden was a third-year law student. This has been updated to reflect that Worden is in the class of 2023. The Daily regrets this error.

Contact Sarina Deb at sdeb7 ‘at’

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