In reversal, county board approves audit of schools’ sexual violence policies

Oct. 20, 2020, 9:57 p.m.

The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously on Tuesday to approve a review of sex- and gender-based harassment, violence and discrimination policies in K-12 schools and universities across the county. 

The vote reversed a 3-2 vote at the Board’s Sept. 22 meeting to delay the audit. This decision was met with criticism from advocates: On Oct. 11, 50 high school students protested against the delay of the audit, and during the public comments portion of a meeting of the county’s Health and Hospital Committee this past Wednesday, about 25 Stanford and Palo Alto high school students spoke out against the decision.

The review will be aimed at ensuring compliance with Title IX policies, the Clery Act and California law. This audit will be conducted in phases, with the first phase being a survey and analysis of the policies of four-year universities like Stanford, and will take place over the course of 12 to 18 months. 

“Stanford stands ready to provide information on our policies and practices to inform efforts to prevent sexual violence at all educational institutions,” University spokesperson Dee Mostofi wrote in an Oct. 14 statement to The Daily.

The University did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the vote.

Law professor Michele Dauber told The Daily that she especially lauded the efforts of survivors and advocates who spoke out in favor of the bill. She estimated that about 100 students across county universities and high schools had spoken out against the Board’s initial decision to delay the audit.

Supervisor Joe Simitian M.A. ’00, who initially voted to delay the audit, told The Daily that he requested to add $500,000 to the originally proposed funding level of $500,000 at the Tuesday meeting. “If you look at the enclosure for our Board meeting, which is what we adopted, it’s all right there,” Simitian said. 

Dauber said she expected that the audit would reveal gaps and problems in Stanford’s Title IX Office and Institutional Equity & Access Office, saying that the audit would be a good first step in addressing flawed sexual violence policies. 

“It’s a long-term problem, and it’s not going to get fixed overnight,” she said. “But we have to continue to make steps along the road, and this is an important first step.”

Mostofi wrote in the same statement that in recent months Stanford had taken “extensive steps” informed by community feedback to improve prevention and response efforts.

Contact Kathryn Zheng at kszheng ‘at’

Kathryn Zheng ’24 is from New Jersey. She is majoring in Economics and currently writes for Arts and Life as a columnist under the Culture desk.

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