By Ari Gabriel
A number of anonymous posts alleging that Stanford inadequately addressed sexual harassment, abuse and assault on the campus were published on the Stanford Missed Connections Instagram account over the past week. As of Monday, over 50 such posts have been made.
The account allows members of the Stanford community to submit anonymous posts to the account’s owner through direct messages, which are then posted on the page. The recent wave of posts marked a departure from the account’s usual more light-hearted content. The owner of the Stanford Missed Connections account wrote on the page’s Instagram story that once they were done posting the direct messages that they’ve already received, they would help to create a new page that will function as a public forum for the discussion of sexual violence and harassment on campus.
“This account just isn’t equipped to sustain a conversation as important as this one for a long time,” they wrote in an Instagram post on the page. They added that they’ve been reaching out to other groups and individuals more experienced at dealing with sexual assault and harassment, including Stanford Office of Sexual Assault & Relationship Abuse (SARA), for advice and help in running a second account that would still be built on “anonymity and sharing stories but with an actual structure that enhances [those things].”
University spokesperson E.J. Miranda wrote in a statement to The Daily that while the University could not comment on specific posts due to privacy concerns and the anonymity of students making those posts, Stanford is working to address sexual misconduct and assault on campus.
“We know we still have far to go in our efforts to eradicate sexual violence in our community and that we must continue to expand prevention and education efforts and augment support services to make them more readily available and easier to navigate,” Miranda wrote on behalf of Title IX Coordinator Cathy Glaze and Senior Vice Provost for Institutional Equity and Access Lauren Schoenthaler. “Our goal is that no student will ever have to experience sexual assault at Stanford, and we are always working to learn and improve in order to advance that goal.”
The posts come in light of the campus climate survey’s release in mid-June, which found that 80% of transgender, gender queer or nonconforming (TGQN) undergraduate and coterm students and 70% of undergraduate and coterm women have experienced harassing behaviors during their time at Stanford.
The wave of posts began after an initial post on June 21, which called on the Stanford community to discuss the “perpetual silence” surrounding abuse on campus. This post was quickly followed by another that alleged a series of incidents on campus including persistent under age sexual harassment, abuse and assault by an unnamed resident assistant.
“Before I was even admitted I was sexually assaulted on this campus,” the anonymous poster wrote. “Before I even applied, I had to file a case against a student on this campus for discrimination (it took 9 months for Stanford to kick them out.)”
Other posters alleged that the Title IX Office and University had mishandled allegations of sexual misconduct and violence.
One poster wrote they had reported an assault to the Title IX Office but the perpetrator “faced no repercussions and never even heard about the case.” Another poster said they had been told that “the university not taking action” after they had reported abuse “was a valuable learning opportunity for [the perpetrator].”
Miranda wrote that the Title IX Office is made up of dedicated professionals who care deeply about the wellbeing of students.
“Their mission of neutrally investigating allegations of sexual assault, sexual harassment and gender discrimination is of the highest importance, and it is profoundly disappointing when students say [the office] erred in handling a case,” Miranda wrote.
Some posters who identified as incoming frosh voiced concerns about their safety on Stanford’s campus.
“Reading all of these posts about sexual assault is so terrifying,” one poster wrote. “What would you recommend freshmen do to stay safe?”
Miranda didn’t address the poster’s specific concern.
Stanford Missed Connections’ owner, who wished to remain anonymous due to the nature of the page, wrote in a message to The Daily that “virtually every single womxn/femme-presenting person” they knew on campus had dealt with sexual harassment or assault in some way.
“The very nature of our school’s ‘prestige’ simply means that power dynamics on campus are even more extreme,” the owner wrote. “We are a school that emphasizes male-dominated fields like engineering, CS and medicine, which lead to professions that, among other things, are filled with sexual misconduct. Those issues are just as prevalent while we’re still students.”