High school students protest Simitian’s vote to delay sexual violence audit

Oct. 13, 2020, 9:59 p.m.

50 local high school students protested Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian’s M.A. ’00 vote to postpone a review of educational institutions’ sexual violence policies on Sunday at Duveneck Elementary School. While board members in favor of the delay said their decision would ensure a thorough review, student protestors insisted that delay tactics could sideline crucial action entirely. 

The protest was prompted by Simitian’s vote to delay conducting a review, cementing a 3-2 majority on the Board of Supervisors in favor of the delay. The review — which students said enjoyed widespread support — would have evaluated K-12 schools and secondary institutions, including Stanford, on their compliance with sexual violence policies, such as Title IX.

Simitian and his team declined to comment on specific criticisms raised during the protest.

“The Board majority thought that the work should be done thoughtfully and thoroughly. These issues are too important to do otherwise,” Simitian wrote in a statement to The Daily. 

While timing remains contentious, most parties agree that the study would eludicate sexual violence policy at educational institutions. 

“Everyone expected it to pass and pass easily,” said law professor and activist Michele Dauber. “There was in fact no opposition to this measure.” 

Stanford affiliates, high school students and concerned parents from around the county spoke in favor of starting the review at a Sept. 22 county board meeting.

Protestors said the delay places the review in jeopardy entirely, and Rachel Sun, a Gunn High School senior who led Sunday’s protest, said the decision was “highly offensive to survivors of sexual assault.” 

Despite the board’s argument, student protestors insisted that bureaucratic delay would harm Simitian’s constituents.

“Deferring to the Trump administration to make the final call on whether to pursue the study will take forever,” Sun said.  “For the people who suffer during that delay, even a short delay is too much.”   

Protestors described a need for clarity amidst conflicting Trump administration rules, state legislation and school policies. At Stanford, Dauber said that the confluence of Title IX and the University’s SHARE rules have created confusion. 

“Students and parents need to know what’s covered, what’s not covered, and how to get help, most importantly, how to get home,” Dauber said. “And that’s the thing that Joe Simitian obstructed.” 

“All we need is one vote,” Dauber added. “And that vote should just come from Simitian.”

Contact Yash Dalmia at ydalmia ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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