Undergraduate Senate criticizes increased security presence and calls for review of Title IX procedure

Oct. 28, 2022, 1:45 a.m.

This story contains references to sexual assault and harassment.

The Undergraduate Senate (UGS) unanimously passed a resolution on Oct. 13 to address sexual violence on campus as a part of broader efforts to advocate for survivors. The resolution called for improved blue light and public transportation systems, condemned the increased security presence on campus and urged a review of the Title IX procedures. 

UGS Co-Chair Amira Dehmani ’24 said the University’s failure to adequately respond to cases of sexual violence prompted the Senate to write the resolution. 

Sexual Violence Free Stanford (SVFree), which works to combat sexual violence on campus recently organized a protest, urging the University to expel all students who have committed sexual assault and dismiss all faculty and staff who have violated Title IX. “As a Senate, we decided a statement was needed to support the community and the efforts of SVFree,” Dehmani said. 

UGS Deputy Chair and former Daily staffer Ritwik Tati ’25 said the resolution was motivated by recent security alerts concerning sexual violence and the University’s decision to increase police presence. There were 2 alerts in the past 3 months

“The Senate wanted to state its case by saying that increasing these measures wasn’t going to further protect these victims,” Tati said.

In a Faculty Senate meeting on Oct. 20, Patrick Dunkley, the vice provost for institutional equity, access, and community, said that increased patrols are a temporary response to community concerns.

According to Provost Persis Drell, the University is exploring other measures to address sexual assaults on campus, including evaluating the need for more exterior lighting and tasking a committee with exploring the development of a safety app that would allow the Stanford community to receive security alerts on their phones or smartwatches.

250 cameras will be installed per year over the course of the next four years under a $2.5 million plan, Dunkley said.

Drell said the University is working to expand resources for individuals affected by sexual assault, including potentially expanding the Confidential Support Team.  

According to Drell, the SHARE Education team is also working on programming and training materials. “[They] work full time developing additional programming and continue to improve the programs we have,” Drell said. “Sexual harrassment training is required for all faculty and employees every two years.”

Advocates at the protest earlier this month also called for identity-focused counselors and trauma-informed training. 

Echoing advocates, Tati said the Title IX process is “deeply flawed, especially for faculty” who face allegations of sexual harrassment or assault.  

According to Tati, “We’ve seen in the past that the Title IX process for faculty is really on a case by case basis. So there’s no real official policy for it.” 

The University declined to comment on calls for the termination of faculty members who have allegations of sexual or domestic violence against them, as well as criticism surrounding the increased security presence on campus. A University spokesperson pointed towards Stanford News’ coverage of the Faculty Senate meeting.  

The UGS previously passed a Survivor’s Bill of Rights in Feb. 2022 and a resolution in 2019, both of which called for more resources for survivors, among other things. The resolution was signed by every fraternity and sorority during the 2019-2020 school year. 

The lack of improvement since led the Senate to draft the new resolution, Tati said.

Tati said the UGS Executive Committee, which includes the Senate chairs and deputy chairs, will meet every quarter with Title IX coordinator Stephen Chen to advise improvements in the University and Title IX office’s response to sexual violence. 

Senators are collaborating on a joint resolution with the Graduate Student Council, which they hope to send to the Faculty Senate next month. “Our goal is to have this go up to the Faculty Senate where they can vote on this, and they can go on to admin where that is finally addressed,” Tati said.

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