Senate candidates stress expanding scope of SHARE Title IX Office, supporting survivors

April 28, 2021, 10:41 p.m.

Multiple candidates for the Associated Students of Stanford University (ASSU) Undergraduate Senate are running on platforms that stress tackling sexual violence at Stanford and bolstering mental health resources.

However, survivor advocates said that none of the candidates reached out to them to discuss policies to benefit survivors — citing the lack of outreach as a cause for concern. 

In a statement, Maia Brockbank ’21, Julia Paris ’21 and Krithika Iyer ’21, who co-founded Sexual Violence Free (SVFree) Stanford and serve on the ASSU Committee on Sexual Violence Prevention and Survivor Support, wrote, “While none of the candidates or slates have approached us about collaborative opportunities or their platforms, we look forward to working together with a diverse set of ASSU representatives towards making Stanford sexual violence-free.”

Candidates have instead opted to create their platforms with input from friends, former senators and candidates or through using online resources. Candidate Jaden Morgan ’24 wrote that while he formulated his agenda himself, he is “always open to having dialogue with campus advocates to see how ASSU can further support this cause.”

Many candidates have proposed expanding the scope of existing offices and policies. “My main platform surrounding Title IX includes adding more funding and resources to Stanford’s SHARE Title IX Office and the Stanford Confidential Support team,” wrote candidate Amira Dehmani ’24 in a statement to The Daily. “Additionally, I am an advocate for increased funding towards therapy and mental health resources for survivors, and increasing investigative resources for the Title IX office and preventative measures, including night-time safety measures.” 

Morgan concurred, stressing the importance of collaboration between the ASSU and the SHARE Title IX Office to prevent sexual violence. 

“This kind of relationship between students and faculty is crucial in our quest to make Stanford a harassment-free institution and one that champions an upstander culture,” Morgan wrote. 

Similarly, candidate Nikhil Lyles ’24 wrote that the principles of his platform highlight a commitment to diversity and inclusion for all members of Stanford’s student body. “Naturally, that also includes support for improvement of timely handling and accountability with Title IX, and more generally promoting a campus where people both are safer and feel more comfortable,” he wrote.

Senate candidate Marion Santo ’23 highlighted plans to collaborate with the SHARE Title IX Office to expand supportive programs and outreach efforts for survivors. Santo also pledged to create a legal defense fund for survivors and ensure free legal counseling. Currently, survivors are entitled to eight hours of legal aid under the SHARE Hearing Procedure, which applies when an alleged perpetrator is a student or formal member of the professoriate, and four hours of legal aid under the SHARE Investigation Procedure, which applies when the alleged perpetrator is a staff member or postdoctoral student.

Santo added that her platform places an emphasis on equity. “One of my key issues is ensuring that Stanford is a more equitable place both academically and socially for every student regardless of ethnicity, race, or gender,” she wrote.

Other candidates, like Sarah Saboorian ’22 and Michaela Phan ’23, pointed towards their history of advocacy within their platforms.

In earlier interviews with The Daily, Saboorian cited her support of the Abolish Stanford Greek organization as work she has done this year to support survivors. 

In a second term, Saboorian plans to combat sexual violence through opposing the Title IX regulations established by former Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, which limit the scope of investigations universities can open under Title IX and led to the creation of the SHARE procedures. Saboorian also hopes to mandate consent training within Row houses, increasing diversity in the Confidential Support Team and following up on the release of Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) exams at the Stanford Hospital, among other plans for advocacy. 

Phan highlighted her efforts to publicize graphics detailing resources for survivors — created by Senator Jonathan Lipman ’21 — in every currently occupied dorm. In her platform, she stated that she plans to publicize these graphics in more dorms, as well as ensure a virtual rollout of the resources.

Candidate Aden Beyene ’24 also emphasized the creation of graphics highlighting resources for survivors as an effort she would support. Beyene added that she plans to support increasing the provision of resources for survivors and mandating increased protection for survivors beyond the existing retaliation policy

Another proposal came from Senate candidate Joshua Jankelow ’24, whose platform includes the creation of a joint committee to discuss and evaluate reforms to Title IX policies. Joint committees can be formed by the Senate at its discretion to address issues that require firm solutions instead of general resolutions, according to Jankelow, and allow senators to collaborate with other members of the ASSU.

Through creating a joint committee, Jankelow wrote, “We can evaluate Title IX policies together with experienced student governors in such a way that faculty will be forced to listen because the entirety of the ASSU will be represented, not just the [Undergraduate Senate].”

Similarly, Senate candidate Cayla Withers ’24 stressed the importance of protecting survivors, writing in her platform that she will “do all that [she] can to ensure that survivors of sexual assault/harassment are heard and that their abusers are punished.”

Voting for the ASSU Undergraduate Senate, as well as other positions, will begin on Thursday at midnight and end at 11:59 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time on Friday.

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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