Stanford students are planning a protest of the university’s handling of rape cases at Sunday’s graduation, charging that the campus keeps secret the names of students found to be responsible for sexual assault and misconduct.
The students allege that the public discussion of Brock Turner, the swimmer convicted of sexually assaulting a woman on campus, is rare. More common, they say, are situations in which an accused student is not publicly charged and convicted in criminal court but is still found to be responsible for sexual assault and misconduct by the university.
“Stanford has a list of names of students who are responsible for sexual assault and misconduct,” the petition says. “Despite the high barrier of proof used in these investigations, despite the university’s certain knowledge that these people are threats, Stanford keeps this knowledge a secret.
Students gathered on Friday to prepare, tweeting photos of signs they made that said, “Rape culture has deep roots,” “You’re not alone,” and “Brock Turner is not an exception.” Turner’s sentence to what will probably amount to three months in county jail, rather than the six-year term in state prison that prosecutors sought, has provoked outrage around the world.
FOR THE RECORD
12:41 p.m.: An earlier version of this post said that prosecutors had sought a six-month term in state prison for Brock. Prosecutors had sought a six-year term.
University officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment Saturday night.
The demonstration will take place during the “Wacky Walk” parade, a 15-minute long procession of graduates proceeding into Stanford Stadium that marks the start of commencement, in which students show off their offbeat costumes. The Wacky Walk is expected to begin at 9:30 a.m. and will be webcast live online as the first part of commencement. Documentary filmmaker Ken Burns is the keynote speaker.
Sunday’s graduation is the 125th commencement ceremony at Stanford.
According to the U.S. Department of Education, there were 26 cases of rape at Stanford University in 2014.
Turner, who has been expelled, pleaded not guilty and was convicted on March 30 for assault with intent to commit rape of an intoxicated woman, sexually penetrating an intoxicated person with a foreign object and sexually penetrating an unconscious person with a foreign object.
The students’ petition alleges that “numerous serial assaulters continue to live anonymously in dorms with the university’s knowledge of their pattern of assault.”
“For the protection of its students, Stanford must act to make the identity of individuals found responsible of sexual assault and sexual misconduct known within the student body. This is an issue of campus safety: it leaves the entire community vulnerable to attacks from individuals who have been found responsible by Stanford.”
The protesters said that “Stanford publicly claims that expulsion” is the default punishment for students found guilty of sexual assault. But the protesters also asserted that the school “has an alarmingly narrow definition of sexual assault,” and questioned what happens to students found to be responsible of either sexual misconduct or sexual assault who are allowed to remain in school.