Stanford Actions on Sexual and Relationship Violence
Too many students at Stanford experience unwanted sexual contact or relationship violence. We’re working to change that through education, prevention, support and adjudication. Our goal is a campus culture free of sexual and relationship violence. It will take time, but we intend to get there through continual improvement — learning from ourselves and others, and fostering partnerships between students and the university. Here are some of the efforts that have been undertaken.
Expanded educational programs
- Beyond Sex Ed: Consent & Sexuality at Stanford, an in-person training program developed by students and the SARA Office, launched in fall 2016 for first-year undergraduates and has continued to expand. In 2019, an expanded component was added to the program for students to engage in a discussion of the program with their residential student staff. In addition to the mandatory session for all first-year undergraduates, beginning in September 2017 Beyond Sex Ed began a series of programs for upperclass students promoting healthy sexuality and relationships, building on the prior year’s programming.
- SOMGEN 160: Sexual Assault Prevention. Beginning in winter 2019, students may enroll in this 1-2 unit course, which consists of both a classroom component and a “lab” component. The classroom component focuses on learning about theory and best practices in sexual assault prevention programming and evaluation, including reading pertinent literature. The “lab” component focuses on learning individual skills to reduce gender-based violence in campus communities. Students may enroll in either the course, the lab or both. The class is a partnership between the School of Medicine’s Gender Based Violence Prevention Collaboration and the SARA Office, and supported in part by a generous donation to the Department of Medicine’s Sexual Assault Prevention Fund.
Programs for survivors
- The Confidential Support Team offers group programming for students impacted by sexual assault, relationship abuse, sexual harassment and stalking. Groups have included a Healing Arts Workshop, co-sponsored with the SARA Office, and the CST Coping Skills Group.
- Self-Care Study Breaks are being offered to students before finals at the end of each quarter, offering self-care resources and confidential counseling.
- Yoga as Healing continues its multi-year partnership between SARA and Fraternity & Sorority Life. The program is a quarter-long, trauma-sensitive program for self-identified survivors of sexual and/or relationship violence, stalking and sexual harassment. FSL and SARA work with a trauma-informed instructor and provide all yoga and educational equipment and materials so that participation is not hindered by cost.
- Event-based healing and processing circles. In response to local and national events relating to sexual and relationship violence, stalking, sexual harassment, and gender-based discrimination that can be difficult for community members to process, the SARA Office offers episodic healing circles for individuals to come together.
New tool for documenting and reporting sexual assault
- With the support and advocacy of ASSU student leaders, Stanford has begun using Callisto, on a three-year trial basis, to provide students with an additional way of documenting and reporting sexual assault. Callisto is a third-party online platform that allows a survivor to confidentially document an experience with unwanted sexual conduct, time-stamp it in a secure web environment, and choose when to submit it to the university. A student also can opt to only have their record reported to the Title IX Office in the instance that another user in the system identifies the same perpetrator.
Funding and staffing
- Stanford has added more than $3 million to its general funds budget for expanded support, education and adjudication efforts addressing sexual violence.
- Stanford now has more than a dozen staff members in three offices created in recent years to focus on these issues – the Confidential Support Team, the Title IX Office and the SARA Office (Office of Sexual Assault & Relationship Abuse Education & Response.)
Feedback on pilot Title IX Process
- An advisory committee of faculty and students continues to welcome feedback on the university’s pilot process for investigating and hearing Title IX cases.
- Confidential feedback can be offered via a feedback form on the web.
- Provost Persis Drell continues to provide updates to the campus community on the university’s experience with the pilot student Title IX Process and other aspects of Stanford’s efforts to continue combating sexual violence and sexual harassment.
Spring 2019 campus climate survey
- Provost Persis Drell appointed a committee of faculty, students and staff to work with the Association of American Universities (AAU) in the administration of the survey on sexual assault and harassment in spring 2019. Stanford expects survey response information to be released in October 2019.
- The School of Medicine’s Gender Based Violence Prevention Collaboration is undertaking research on the efficacy of sexual violence prevention programs.
Education and training at Stanford today
Over the last several years, Stanford has continually expanded education programs to prevent sexual violence and help members of the community respond effectively to it. Students have been heavily involved and partner with staff to develop and implement a number of programs.
Today, our programs include the following (supplemented by many other programs and specialized trainings offered to smaller groups):
- Incoming undergraduates receive online training before arriving on campus; participate in educational programming at New Student Orientation, including the Beyond Sex Ed: Consent & Sexuality at Stanford program in the first week of fall quarter; and in winter and spring quarters participate in the dorm-based Stanford Consent & Communication workshops, launched in 2016 as a partnership between the SARA Office and the ASSU Sexual Assault Prevention Committee.
- Continuing undergraduates have access to expanded programming that builds on the Beyond Sex Ed program, as described above.
- Incoming graduate students are required to take online training addressing sexual harassment and sexual assault and relationship violence.
- Postdoctoral scholars are required to take online training addressing sexual harassment and sexual assault and relationship violence.
- Faculty and supervisory staff are required to complete training on sexual violence and harassment, discrimination and a respectful workplace at the time of their hire and every two years thereafter.
- Non-supervisory staff are required to complete training at the time of their hire. In addition, beginning in 2020, non-supervisory staff will be required to complete training on sexual violence and harassment, discrimination and a respectful workplace every two years.
Previous initiatives on sexual violence since 2010
Separate hearing process for sexual violence: In 2010, more than a year before the federal government issued its Title IX “Dear Colleague” letter, Stanford launched a new disciplinary process for cases involving allegations of sexual violence. The process was created to recognize the special features of sexual assault cases and encourage students to report incidents of sexual assault.
SARA Office: A stand-alone Office of Sexual Assault & Relationship Abuse Education & Response was created in 2011 to provide support and education for the campus community on healthy relationships and sexuality, sexual and relationship violence, stalking and gender-based discrimination.
Affirmative consent and preponderance of the evidence: Stanford adopted the “affirmative consent” or “yes means yes” standard in university policy in 2012, two years ahead of its becoming state law in California. Stanford also implemented the preponderance of the evidence standard of proof in 2011 for Title IX investigations.
Title IX policy: Stanford adopted a policy in 2013 specifically outlining the university’s responsibilities under Title IX with respect to prohibited sexual conduct. The Title IX Administrative Policy and Procedures works in concert with other university policies outlined in the campus Administrative Guide.
Title IX Office: Stanford created a dedicated Title IX Office in 2014 to focus on Title IX compliance.
It’s On Us: Stanford helped launch this national movement, spearheaded by the federal government, in 2014 with a video screened at New Student Orientation featuring Stanford student-athletes speaking on the subjects of sexual assault prevention and promoting a culture of respect.
Task force: The Provost’s Task Force on Sexual Assault Policies and Practices was convened in 2014 to recommend ways to enhance Stanford’s education, support and adjudication efforts. The 18-member panel of students, faculty, staff and alumni issued its report in April 2015, and the university has been working to implement the recommendations.
Confidential Support Team: Stanford created a dedicated team offering confidential support and trauma-informed counseling to Stanford students impacted by sexual assault and relationship violence. The Confidential Support Team is reachable at (650) 736-6933 from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, or (650) 725-9955 on a 24/7 urgent basis. CST services include information and help accessing resources, short-term emotional support and ongoing individual counseling. In addition, Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) offers counseling to support students’ mental health and well-being and is reachable at (650) 723-3785.
Violence Intervention & Prevention (VIP) program: In spring 2015, the SARA Office and Fraternity & Sorority Life piloted a program in which representatives from fraternity and sorority chapters participate in trainings to develop an understanding around sexual and relationship violence prevention and how to be a resource to chapter members.
Campus climate survey: In the spring of 2015 Stanford conducted a campus climate survey, encouraging all undergraduate and graduate students to provide their perspectives on campus safety and answer questions about their experiences with prohibited sexual conduct. Detailed survey results were issued in October 2015 and are available to the public on the web. Stanford issued an extensive set of additional analyses of the climate survey data in May 2016, providing additional information by groups and subgroups. Based on the recommendation of an advisory committee of students, faculty and staff, Stanford joined the student campus climate survey administered by the Association of American Universities in spring 2019.
Adjudication process: In 2016, Stanford launched an updated process for investigation and adjudication of Title IX cases, as a pilot process, based on the recommendations of the Provost’s Task Force. An advisory committee of students and faculty was created to receive feedback about the new pilot process and to make recommendations for its improvement. The committee is welcoming confidential feedback.
New leadership role: The senior associate vice provost for institutional equity and access, a new position created in 2016, now coordinates coordinate all of the university’s activities addressing sexual violence prevention, Title IX compliance, equal opportunity and nondiscrimination.
MOU with law enforcement: In November 2016 Stanford and other local colleges and universities signed a memorandum of understanding with the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office, articulating principles of cooperation and communication between colleges and county law enforcement in sexual violence cases.