Protesters call for University action on sexual violence, demand justice

Oct. 14, 2022, 11:02 p.m.

This story contains references to sexual assault.

Over 200 members of the Stanford community called on Stanford to take stronger action against sexual violence on campus at a Friday protest led by Sexual Violence Free Stanford (SVFree).

The students and community members came together at White Plaza, where they made signs and learned about SVFree’s work and demands, and they then marched to Main Quad and back. Students held signs that read “We deserve to feel safe on campus” and “Stanford University. Accomplice to rape.” As they marched, they called out, “Our bodies, our lives. We will not compromise.”

The organizers urged Stanford to terminate all faculty and staff with findings of Title IX violations and expel students found to have committed sexual assault, among other demands. Organizers and protestors also called for identity-focused counselors and trauma-informed training.

The protest followed rising campus alarm after an alert was sent to students last Friday that said a woman reported that she had been grabbed from her office and raped in the basement of a University building. That alert followed an alert issued in August stating that a woman reported that she had been raped at a parking lot near Wilbur Hall.

University spokesperson Dee Mostofi wrote in a statement to The Daily that sexual violence is “a very challenging issue.” She wrote that Stanford  “welcome[s] the community’s continuing input.” 

“Our SHARE Title IX Office provides students with resources and opportunities to explore all of the options available to them, and remains committed to a trauma-informed approach, public health principles, and restorative justice practices,” Mostofi wrote. “The staff of the Title IX Office care deeply about these issues and about the individuals affected by sexual harassment, and works to ensure that the policies on sexual harassment at Stanford continue to support a safe and respectful environment for everyone.

“We strongly encourage students, faculty and staff to use the support resources that the university offers,” Mostofi added. “We want those affected by sexual violence to seek support from the university, and confidential resources are available for those who wish to use them.

Before the demonstration, SVFree raised awareness through social media with posts reading “150 YEARS OF SEXUAL ASSAULT AT STANFORD. AND ONLY 2 EXPULSIONS. STANFORD PROTECTS RAPISTS.”

In the early afternoon Friday, SVFree organizers assembled by the south end of White Plaza, setting up a portable speaker, megaphones and creating signs. One sign referenced a finding from the 2019 Association of American Universities survey that 40% of female undergraduates experience “nonconsensual sexual contact.”

Sofia Scarlat ’24, a co-leader of SVFree and co-director of the student government’s Sexual Violence Prevention Committee, said that reports of on-campus sexual violence are “not out of the ordinary as Stanford would claim.” Following Friday’s alert, Scarlat wrote an op-ed published in The Daily where she shared her experience of campus assault and called for reform.

“Stanford would rather protect the University’s image, the reputation of rapists at the expense of the well-being and survival of victims of sexual assault,” Scarlat said. She said Stanford is “an accomplice” to instances of sexual violence on campus.

“We will no longer tolerate an environment where rape is encouraged because of their lack of action,” Scarlat added.

Simon Valencia ’26 made an all-capital sign reading “EXPEL RAPISTS.” He said, “students that inflict harm on a student should obviously be held accountable and should be given the appropriate consequence and be expelled on campus.”

A protester holds up a sign that reads "EXPEL RAPISTS" during a protest held by Sexual Violence Free Stanford on Friday afternoon
A protester holds up a sign that reads “EXPEL RAPISTS” during a protest held by Sexual Violence Free Stanford on Friday afternoon (Photo: RANA TAKI/The Stanford Daily).

As the size of the crowd doubled to about 100 around 2:30 p.m., Eva Jones ‘25 of SVFree, took to the megaphone and said that with regard to the pervasive nature of on-campus sexual violence, “to be astounded is gross negligence” and she said that Stanford “demeans survivors” of sexual violence. 

Soon thereafter, Jones began leading the protesters toward Main Quad. She led call-and-response chants with the crowd, yelling “Stanford University” and the crowd responding “accomplice to rape” or she would yell “expel rapists,” to which the crowd would respond, “expel cops.”

A student in the crowd held up an “Accountability now” sign. Another sign said, “Stanford is performative.”

Student government Executive Vice President Christian Sanchez ’24 said at the protest that everyone in the student group is “looking forward to see what [SVFree] can do with institutional change” and furthering important campus conversations on sexual violence.

Kyle Wang ’22, who attended the protest, spoke against the inclusion of law enforcement and security groups in preventing campus sexual violence. In light of the reported assault, Stanford announced it would temporarily expand the presence of security staff on the Stanford campus.

“For every bad cop, there are hundreds of good cops who choose to look the other way,” Wang said.

Johnny Dollard ’24, a campus resident assistant (RA) who attended the protest, said RA trainings on sexual violence and resource connection is “inadequate.” He called for better standards for RA training to better support students.

A little after 3 p.m., Jones directed the protestors back to White Plaza, again leading in cheers, including “protect survivors” and “you betrayed us.” Once at White Plaza, Jones said that she and SVFree were grateful for the protest’s strong turnout and the widespread community support it represented.

“I hope that students feel heard, and I hope that students feel they have a community of people who care,” Jones told The Daily. “What I hope is that Stanford takes action, and I hope it listens to our demands and starts engaging in the community that is filling the void in protecting survivors on this campus.”

Addressing Stanford leadership directly, Jones said, “Please listen to our demands. We need your support, and we need you to stop protecting your image and start protecting us because lives are on the line.”

Sebastian Strawser is a writer for the News section. He enjoys Filipino food and Avatar The Last Airbender. Contact him at news 'at' stanforddaily.com.

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