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Task force, other efforts addressing sexual assault move ahead at Stanford

A task force of students, faculty and staff has been named to recommend ways of strengthening Stanford's efforts to prevent and respond to cases of sexual assault, part of a series of steps the university is taking to foster a safe and respectful campus community.

The Task Force on Sexual Assault Policies and Practices, chaired by Stanford Law School Dean M. Elizabeth Magill and ASSU President Elizabeth Woodson, will begin work shortly and continue through the academic year. The task force will seek broad input from the campus community to inform its deliberations and make its first set of recommendations this fall.

"Like universities across the country, Stanford is re-examining its approach to the problem of sexual assault to ensure we have the best possible policies and practices," said Provost John Etchemendy. "This task force, with expertise and representation from across the Stanford community, will review what we do in sexual assault prevention, support and response and make recommendations for strengthening our activities in all of these areas. Input from the community and compliance with federal guidance will be central to its deliberations."

Even as the task force begins work, Stanford is moving ahead on a number of other efforts to strengthen its programs addressing sexual assault. They include:

  • Educational programming. A new online pre-orientation education program on sexual assault is being launched this summer for incoming students. In addition, Stanford is working with the Associated Students of Stanford University (ASSU) and others to develop new programs on sexual assault, affirmative consent and bystander intervention that will debut during New Student Orientation this September and continue through the academic year.
  • Staffing and resources. Stanford will hire an additional Title IX investigator, in addition to recently hired Title IX Coordinator Catherine Criswell, to help ensure that Title IX investigations of reports of sexual violence can be completed within 60 calendar days.  Stanford is also exploring how to further increase the availability of resources on campus for students wishing to consult confidentially about an incident.
  • Needs of students following an incident: Stanford is reviewing its internal protocols to ensure that the university establishes the appropriate interim measures to support survivors of sexual assault in their desire to participate fully in university life following a reported incident, and that it re-evaluates these interim measures while Title IX or judicial processes are proceeding.
  • Campus climate survey: During the next academic year, Stanford will launch a campus climate survey, soliciting the views of students on the prevalence of sexual assault and misconduct, among other things. 

As these immediate efforts move forward, the task force will be taking a broader look at Stanford's policies and practices. Etchemendy has charged the task force with reviewing and making recommendations about Stanford's activities in three areas: education and prevention, support following an incident, and adjudication of reported cases of sexual violence, including both the Title IX investigation process and the disciplinary process.

Members of the task force were selected to draw upon the expertise of members of the Stanford community; to ensure representation of both undergraduate students and graduate students; and to directly involve leaders of the faculty and student representative bodies that are responsible for student conduct policies and disciplinary processes.

Etchemendy has asked that the task force conduct broad outreach to the Stanford community to obtain input and suggestions from others.

In addition to Magill, the law school dean, and Woodson, the ASSU president, the task force members include:

  • Bryce Anzelmo, a graduate student in energy resources engineering and co-chair of the 2013-14 Graduate Student Council
  • Russell Berman, the Walter A. Haas Professor in the Humanities and 2014-15 chair of the Faculty Senate
  • Nate Boswell, associate dean of Residential Education and liaison to the Row and fraternity and sorority organizations
  • Shelley Correll, professor of sociology and the Barbara D. Finberg Director of the Clayman Institute for Gender Research at Stanford
  • Catherine Criswell, Title IX coordinator at Stanford
  • Jackie Fielder, undergraduate in public policy and president of the Inter-Sorority Council
  • Kelsey Finch, undergraduate alumna, Urban Studies, Class of 2008
  • Adam Horowitz, a graduate student in sociology and member of the Board on Judicial Affairs
  • Faith Kazmi, associate dean of Student Affairs and director of the Women's Community Center at Stanford
  • Benjy Mercer-Golden, undergraduate in History, 2014-15 ASSU executive cabinet member
  • Lauren Schoenthaler, Office of the General Counsel
  • Marcia Stefanick, professor of medicine at the Stanford Prevention Research Center and co-director of the Stanford Center for Health Research on Women & Sex Differences in Medicine
  • Robert Weisberg, the Edwin E. Huddleson, Jr. Professor of Law and faculty co-director of the Stanford Criminal Justice Center
  • Laura Wilson, Stanford chief of police and director of the Department of Public Safety
  • Laraine Zappert, clinical professor of psychiatry and behavioral science and director of the Sexual Harassment Policy Office at Stanford

More information about sexual assault resources at Stanford is available on the Sexual Assault Support & Resources page at https://notalone.stanford.edu. A set of frequently asked questions about Stanford's current programs in this area is available at https://provost.stanford.edu/frequently-asked-questions-regarding-handling-sexual-assault-cases-stanford.