In response to recent student outcry over Stanford University's handling of sexual assault, the administration is convening a new faculty-student committee to work this summer on reviewing and reforming policy.
Provost John Etchemendy announced the committee at the last faculty senate meeting of the year Thursday afternoon, as senior Leah Francis led a protest outside. Francis has criticized the administration for mishandling an off-campus sexual assault committed against her by another student in January.
Etchemendy's announcement comes one day after Vice Provost for Student Affairs Greg Boardman rejected Francis' appeal of the university's sanctions for her assailant, a graduating senior. Boardman ruled against expulsion and instead decided to delay the male student's degree for two years.
The new committee will be co-chaired by M. Elizabeth Magill, dean of the Stanford Law School, and Elizabeth Woodson, president of the university's student government body, Associated Students of Stanford University (ASSU). They will be charged with reviewing the university's policies and practices and making suggestions on a range of issues, from expanding Stanford's educational efforts surrounding sexual assault to the possibility of implementing expulsion as the "presumptive" sanction for students found responsible for sexual misconduct.
The university also said that starting this fall, incoming students will receive new online training on sexual violence before they get to campus and additional "live training" during orientation. There are also preliminary plans to launch a consent campaign, together with the ASSU, to educate students on the definition of affirmative consent.
"We all have to take responsibility for the climate on campus," Etchemendy said Thursday.
Stanford law professor Michele Dauber, who co-chaired the board that drafted Stanford's Alternate Review Process and has been helping Francis with her appeal, said the problem that needs to be addressed is not policy but rather implementation.
"Stanford's (sexual assault) policy is a very solid policy that complies with Title IX," she said. "Unfortunately, implementation of it, particularly in the area of discipline, has been poor."
She said that before an ARP panel found Francis' assailant responsible for sexual assault in April, there had been no findings of responsibility since 2011.
"Women do not want to utilize (ARP) because they feel like it puts them through the ringer, and then at the end, they get no satisfaction or feeling of justice. There's no sense of appropriate punishment here so the cost is not worth the benefit."
Woodson told the faculty senate Thursday that the ASSU has already started developing ideas on how to further student education and awareness of sexual assault; expand campus resources for responding to sexual assault; and reform the university's Alternate Review Process (ARP), including establishing expulsion as the "default" sanction for those found responsible for sexual misconduct.
"Hopefully this is going to be a real process that's going to result in serious change," Dauber said. "We have a crisis here and Stanford should step up to the plate with serious action."