Editorial: Stanford's deafening silence | News | Palo Alto Online |


Editorial: Stanford's deafening silence

With Brock Turner verdict, Stanford misses opportunity to teach and show compassion, humility and resolve

"We need to change the culture, and it's on all of us to do that."

With those words -- spoken by Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen on the courthouse steps last week moments after a jury convicted 20-year-old former Stanford University student Brock Turner of three felony sexual-assault charges -- the county's chief prosecutor sought to use the conviction to send a powerful message to the community.

"Today, the Santa Clara County jury gave a verdict, which I hope will reverberate throughout colleges, high schools and everywhere in our county," Rosen said. "I want there to be no doubt of the distinction between consensual sex and sexual assault. 'No' means 'no.' Passed out or unconscious means 'no.' And sex without consent means criminal assault."

He then thanked the victim for her courage in working with prosecutors and enduring an emotional trial while still dealing with the trauma of her January 2015 assault. And he thanked the two Stanford graduate students -- the Good Samaritans who rescued the victim and without whom the case would likely not have succeeded -- for intervening the night of the assault and restraining Turner until police arrived.

The prosecutor on the case, Deputy DA Alaleh Kianerci, was just as blunt: "If you make that mistake and make that decision to engage in sexual activity when somebody's too intoxicated, you will possibly end up in court or in jail."

Rosen's personal appearance and poignant statement achieved the intended widespread news coverage, giving added voice to the 12-person jury's unanimous conviction and making clear that the responsibility for addressing the problem of campus sexual assault includes everyone within the school community in addition to law enforcement.

And Stanford University's official response to the verdict?

With months to consider how it might best respond publicly and to its students after a verdict to demonstrate its resolve to stop campus sexual violence, Stanford instead chose not to issue a statement and had its spokesperson simply respond verbally to individual press inquiries.

Lisa Lapin, associate vice president for university communications, told the Weekly in an email that her general statement to the media was along the lines of "We are proud of the students who saw something wrong, intervened and then followed through by participating in the investigation and trial. It was a stellar example of bystander intervention and action we hope all Stanford students will take, and what we teach the community."

No mention of the university's compassion for the victim, a Gunn High School graduate and Palo Alto resident. No appreciation for the Sheriff's investigation or the District Attorney's successful prosecution. And no acknowledgment of its failures and responsibility to change an environment and culture that led not only to this assault but to the failure of anyone at the fraternity party preventing it.

Instead, Stanford chose only to commend two of its graduate students for intervening.

Stanford is hardly unskilled at public relations. But it has repeatedly found itself tone deaf and on the defensive against student, faculty and outside critics, including U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier, who have charged that the university's complaint system is confusing and difficult to navigate, with unsatisfactory outcomes that fail to punish perpetrators or provide a safe environment for victims.

Stanford has taken many positive steps, including a communication to all students a month ago by President John Hennessy and Provost John Etchemendy on the problem of excessive alcohol use and the possibility of banning hard liquor in undergraduate residences. Educational programs, some mandatory, are attempting to change student attitudes and behavior around sexual assault. Changes in the university's judicial process are being implemented to provide support for victims and establish better processes for responding to complaints. But these efforts get overshadowed by its inexplicable defensiveness and public relations spin.

Institutions know that when there is bad or embarrassing news harmful to its community and its brand, top leadership needs to be front and center, taking responsibility, acknowledging short-comings and demonstrating resolve to fix it. Last week, with an opportunity to use the Turner conviction to bring home the life-changing consequences of illegal behavior and excessive alcohol consumption, Hennessy and Etchemendy were sadly absent and the university silent.

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66 people like this
Posted by Zalltime
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 8, 2016 at 8:37 am

Zalltime is a registered user.

More people will be victim of rape in the future, and it'll be partly their fault for not doing anything it.

Stanford and Cal have been having their fair share of rape stories lately. This is sure to deter some brilliant female minds around the country from attending the schools.

67 people like this
Posted by Not my Daughter!
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 8, 2016 at 10:44 am

Due to Stanford's lack of action, more and more young women are AFRAID to attend Stanford!

More and more parents are FORBIDDING their daughters to attend Stanford.

Hard to blame them!

17 people like this
Posted by SP
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Apr 8, 2016 at 11:03 am

[Post removed.]

30 people like this
Posted by Chip
a resident of Professorville
on Apr 8, 2016 at 11:06 am

[Portion removed.]

Maybe non-students should be banned from attending campus parties.

16 people like this
Posted by or maybe you're wrong
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 8, 2016 at 11:25 am

[Post removed.]

56 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 8, 2016 at 11:26 am

Stanford encourages students to say something if they see something and that is exactly what happened here. The verdict in this case was inevitable. Given the focus on this issue, the stage was set for an example to be made. But is the community really safer? I don't think so b/c I don't think Mr. Turner is a depraved predator. Two young people who had much too much to drink essentially self-forfeited their decision making abilities and both ended up in a world of hurt. Colleges across the nation - not just Stanford - need to address the problem of excessive drinking (particularly for under-age students)and educate students about how ruinous the behavior can be.

74 people like this
Posted by Not my Daughter
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 8, 2016 at 11:29 am

To top it all off and make it worse, there are a lot of high schools girls--not just Gunm or Paly--who go to frat parties at Stanford.

My foster daughter used to tell me hair-raising stories about herself and her friends attending these wild frat parties, usually sneaking out after curfew to do so.

It is 't just frat parties, either......dorm parties, sorority parties, class parties, etc. one of the profs in one of the Foreign History and Language dept classes told me about a party at her house, on-campus, that got way out of control. That was ten years ago, so this is NOTHING new.

About thirty years ago, some of the fraternities had to be disbanded.

It appears that the only way a person can get expelled from Stanford from Stanford is if they murder someone on campus!

8 people like this
Posted by Palo Alto Gal
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 8, 2016 at 11:31 am

Why is Stanford University at fault here? [Portion removed.]

68 people like this
Posted by maher
a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 8, 2016 at 11:38 am

Isn't it ridiculous that SP and Chip go directly to "blame the victim" as their first answer to male predatory violence... answer Yes! This entitled boys' club stance is exactly the primary dynamic at Stanford and most universities.
It is the core dynamic of the epidemic rape culture that young males encourage in one another in every venue in our country. Where are the fathers who step up and correct them? That mostly doesn't happen.
How did we get here? WELL, consider the idea that EVE was framed ... "look what she made me do" is in my view the tradition of choice from antiquity and is still primary for more men than not. It's deep rooted and it is corrupt but hey! it floats a lot of boats. Stanford is just another luxury liner in that sea of sickening doggie doo.

75 people like this
Posted by Not my Daughter
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 8, 2016 at 11:50 am

Then what is wrong with Stanford and their application process that attracts predatory males

My former employer's husband worked in the DA's office, before going into private practice. He had knowledge, first hand, of many such cases. He would NOT allow his daughter to attend Stanford, not as an undergraduate or a grad student, because he was fully aware of the u usual numbers of sexual predators on campus.

18 people like this
Posted by Once young
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Apr 8, 2016 at 12:04 pm

I'm a woman, I attended parties in college. My mother taught me early that a young woman needs to be careful. I don't think SP is out of line at all to point out that the young woman was at fault too. An earlier news article said she'd blacked out on other occasion(s). Neither of them should have been acting as they did ... but he gets the worst of the punishment. I don't find this fair and I'm a feminist. [Portion removed.] This is typical (unfortunately) teen behavior in our thrill-seeking age.

59 people like this
Posted by dexter hake
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Apr 8, 2016 at 12:07 pm

When and why was the policy changed to allow alcohol on the campus?

Like this comment
Posted by BayAreaReader
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Apr 8, 2016 at 12:08 pm

BayAreaReader is a registered user.

[Post removed.]

42 people like this
Posted by Dean
a resident of another community
on Apr 8, 2016 at 12:19 pm

Annette, you are correct.

Part of the problem is that in today's world of permissivity it has permitted our children to ignore their own responsibility for what they do. Downtime may be all that is needed for some children for discipline, however it is definitely not sufficient for all. Some respond well to a verbal admonishment, while others are going to laugh at that. I do not advocate beatings (though some may not respond to anything short of that) and I really would like to see some legal action for anyone who performs beatings.

The parents really do need something to use to control their children's behavior, and short of spanking before they are old enough to respond to reason the parents have nothing, as most children are only partially responsive otherwise.

A spanking is not a beating, I know as I was the victim of beatings by my father, is that still hate in my heart (I don't want someone to tell me I should forgive him, as even my sister's still hate him for the beatings he had done), from the time I was about 4 years old. My mother spanked me when I was doing something I shouldn't be doing, after repeated warnings, I have never stopped loving my mom. She passed away about 30 years ago.

It seems that for many years it has been a misdemeanor to issue corporal punishment to your own child, and in part that has created much of the irresponsibility in our children.

By the way even though I was a victim of beatings, I never beat my children, ever. Both my son (56) and my daughter (53) will tell you to this day that they were afraid of me at punishmemt time, because I was so much bigger than them, but they always knew I would never really hurt them. Verbal discipline commenced with them participating after my son was around 7 years old.

About 10 years ago, a friend's son held up his hand at school when the teacher asked if anyone was spamked by their parents, and said his father spanked him, as a result his father was escorted from our workplace by the police (in handcuffs), and had to submit to the punishment of 10 days in jail, and the judge said he would go to jail for 6 months if it ever happened again. His son wanted a new bicycle, and to get it he threatened to tell his teacher that my friend had spanked him. Is that what the law is really about?

I asked his son if he was beaten or spanked, and the son told me his father swatted him on his butt one time, once, with his hand for discipline.

48 people like this
Posted by Jeff
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 8, 2016 at 12:19 pm

Too many people think if they aren't convicted, their ethics are okay. Stanford can't really change their ethics, only make it clear poor ethics won't be tolerated.

Remember back a few years when someone hacked into the admissions records. Everyone who looked into their status was refused admittance. No published list of perpetrators, only denied admission.

Stanford shouldn't try to be a judicial system administering shame and punishment. It should make it clear unethical behavior will get you permanently expelled from the university.

Hopefully the Stanford community hasn't fallen so low that anyone would express any doubt about the exemplary behavior of the two students who stopped the assault.

10 people like this
Posted by Sam
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 8, 2016 at 12:21 pm

@Not my Daughter:

You are absolutely correct. Why would anyone want to attend Stanford?

They ivy league schools, Duke, MIT, Northwestern, etc., and all the fantastic in-state UC schools have *ZERO* problems with sexual assault! Great places to attend school for young women.

13 people like this
Posted by More silence
a resident of Stanford
on Apr 8, 2016 at 12:22 pm

[Post removed. Turner was not charged with or convicted of rape.]

13 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 8, 2016 at 1:48 pm

Since this is such a serious matter let's stick w/the facts. The two rape charges were dropped. Mr. Turner was convicted of the other charges. I don't know how it is that his intent can be determined but I assume the law allows for a presumption. One lesson to come out of this is that drunk = no. I think most people know that no = no and that unconscious = no but I question if it is widely known that drunk = no. How are two intoxicated people supposed to discern if a yes is a sober yes, a tipsy yes, or a drunk yes? And isn't it is possible for a person to say yes, continue drinking and later lose consciousness - turning the yes into a no? These are tricky waters for an impaired mind to navigate. All the more reason to address the drinking issue.

63 people like this
Posted by Grandmak
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 8, 2016 at 1:53 pm

While living in Escondido housing in the '80's, I reported that there was very obvious domestic abuse happening in an apartment nearby. After several follow-up inquiries, I was told, with exasperation at my insistence, that there were 'cultural differences' that must be allowed for.

Obviously, these things "don't/can't happen at Stanford." See no evil, hear no evil.

3 people like this
Posted by Just the facts
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 8, 2016 at 2:16 pm

@Not my daughter
Where does she get the claim that families are not letting their daughters go to stanford. Stanford gets applications from all over the world. I would like to know the basis of the claim. [Portion removed.]

69 people like this
Posted by More silence
a resident of Stanford
on Apr 8, 2016 at 2:59 pm

They both got drunk.
But SHE wasn't accused or convicted of felony sexual-assault.
HE was.

She didn't assault anyone. Notice the difference?

91 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 8, 2016 at 4:11 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

I got drunk in college with very attractive female students, so did many of my make friends. Despite getting drunk, we never sexually assaulted females, even when they were drunk and probably easy prey. This is for the posters who think the victim shares responsibility and the defendant got a raw deal. A male who is not a predator will never assault a woman no matter how intoxicated. The crocodile tears shed for Brock are truly revolting, because they are nothing more than victim blaming.

71 people like this
Posted by Hulkamania
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 8, 2016 at 4:46 pm

Hulkamania is a registered user.

Posted by Not my Daughter

"To top it all off and make it worse, there are a lot of high schools girls--not just Gunm or Paly--who go to frat parties at Stanford."

Many years ago I played a lot of gigs at Stanford frats and dorms. There were always a number of what the Stanfordites called "Paly Girls" in attendance.

As I got older and realized what was going on I'd chat them up to see what their story was. The lions share were under age and were either not where they were suppose to be or had snuck out of the house. By the end of the evening many were just as drunk as the Stanfords.

It seems to me that Stanford should do something to discourage underage non-students attendance at these parties. It would certainly be in Stanford's best interest so their overwhelmed PR department doesn't have to block the searchlight of truth glaring through their windows.

72 people like this
Posted by May my Daughter
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 8, 2016 at 5:45 pm

@Just the facts: My work as a horse trainer and "A-Level" riding instructor have put me in near-constant contact with teen and pre-teen girls ( and a fair share of boy) since 1990. Due to the fact that their parents are the ones who pay me, I spend a good amount of time talking to them as well.

More often than not, when it co es time to get those college applications in, the parents ask to to write letters attesting to their offsprings' experiences riding and showing horses at an advanced level, related things I teach them ( like barn management, equine nutrition and equipment, the basics of veterinary medicine, etc).

For the last 19 of those years, I have had many parents, especially fathers ( many of them European, if that matters) tell me that they won't even allow their daughters to apply to Stanford BECAUSE OF THE RAPE CULTURE and the pervasive excess alcohol and stimulant use ( in particular, Stanford students buying ADHD meds from local high school kids), as well as hard partying every weekend.

That's right-- the first time I heard of this was in 1997! The fact that one of the assistant DAs of this county had prosecuted male Stanford students in the 80s and 90s, and would not allow his own daughter to attend Stanford was pretty convincing that this was not a good place for young women to be!

I would be willing to bet that the East Bay is making all the same comments about UC Berkeley right now, but I have no familiarity with that.

7 people like this
Posted by Mike
a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 8, 2016 at 5:47 pm

[Portion removed.]

I would suggest, (as if it needs to be said), that issuing any statement at all risks making serious missteps. It is well past the time for certain kinds of messages, and you know that Stanford has repeatedly expressed these to the persons involved; others are just trite meaningless boilerplate, and certain 'expected" statements may be contrary to fact. Stanford has made a number of changes and efforts to address issues raised by this event, and published them. Should they trot them out again? Exactly how would that sound at this point in time?
Is there an appeal in progress? is Stanford being sued?

The world is not quite as simple as we would like, and sometimes newspaper stories do not reflect that.

Like this comment
Posted by Just the facts
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 8, 2016 at 7:16 pm

[Post removed.]

44 people like this
Posted by Hopenchange
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 8, 2016 at 8:09 pm

Probably the best thing that Stanford did in this case was to have it adjudicated by Santa Clara County rather than by an on-campus "rape tribunal" as advocated by the Office of Civil Rights of the US Department of Education.

This allowed the defendant to receive his full due process rights and allowed him to present a vigorous defense. He had his day in court (and was found guilty on several charges).

9 people like this
Posted by Uneasy Options
a resident of Menlo Park
on Apr 8, 2016 at 10:44 pm

Stanford has to tread carefully. Strongly condemning a jock will make recruiting athletic talent more difficult as star candidates choose competing institutions where the fringe benefits are less stringently monitored. Winning sports teams win alum contributions. Defending mere students costs the institution money but brings in no contributions.

67 people like this
Posted by Excellence is not shallow
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 9, 2016 at 1:09 am

Characteristics of a great organization: things work well, but when they go wrong, the organization handles them well.

I coukdn't be more disappointed in Stanford and PAUSD lately.

49 people like this
Posted by Caroline V.
a resident of Portola Valley
on Apr 9, 2016 at 9:11 am

The only reason why District Attorney Rosen fulfilled his duties is because the case was published in the media. Many cases remain not investigated and are being covered up.

69 people like this
Posted by How it's done
a resident of Stanford
on Apr 9, 2016 at 10:02 am

In a very similar case, an athlete from Vanderbilt was convicted yesterday of sexual assault on an unconscious woman. In that case, immediately after the verdict, the Vandy administration issued this statement:

"Our first thoughts are with the victim and the incredible strength she has shown, and continues to show, both throughout the investigation and the legal proceedings," Vanderbilt University Vice Chancellor for Public Affairs Beth Fortune said in a statement. "Our heart continues to go out to her as she has endured this retrial. This case has had a lasting impact on us all.'

It is a good thing that John Etchemendy and John Hennessy are going. Their utter tone-deafness on this issue have been terrible for the university community. If you cannot figure out how to issue a statement like the above, which must be basically a cut and past job out of the "what to do when a student gets raped or murdered on campus" book for university leaders then you have no business at the helm of a school like Stanford. Blinded by their own arrogance in a hundred different ways, these two need to move on. When Vanderbilt is better than Stanford you know you have failed.

61 people like this
Posted by Que Pasa
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 9, 2016 at 10:03 am

So WHY is alcohol allowed on campus AT ALL? Not just Stanford, but any college campus? Especially in light of the fact that so many students are UNDER AGE to drink!

Even for students over 21, it is inappropriate in a college setting, just as it is inappropriate in the workplace ( for which employees are summarily fired, btw).

Since alcohol ( and drugs, for that matter) causes so much trouble, so much crime and violence of all sorts, perhaps it would be best if any student caught in possession of it on campus, even after hours, should be suspended. Repeaters should be expelled. It would be that way if a student were to be caught in possession of a firearm on campus--immediate expulsion.
Although I suspect a Stanford student would only get a mild slap on the hand. Their plan seems to be to keep a student in at any cost, for however long it takes, to get them degreed. Unless they murder a faculty member ( which has happened in the past)

15 people like this
Posted by Saint Croix
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 9, 2016 at 10:04 am

Alcohol screws up many of our criminal and civil laws. In some scenarios, being drunk makes you a criminal. In other scenarios, being drunk makes you an innocent. You're often not liable for your contracts, if you are drunk. It's bizarre, all the alcohol varieties there are in our legal system. We don't know what to do with our drunks!

And now we have an obviously sexist and man-hating regime on many college campuses. Drunk man = predator, drunk woman = potential victim. He gets the adult standard of being responsible for his drinking and his actions. She gets the child protections of the nanny state.

It's an obvious and blatant double standard for drunk men and drunk women. We still have the ancient (and sexist!) urge to protect women, the baby-makers. But when you add to this a 21st century hostility to men--which is rampant on the left--you get an ugly and unfair separate set of rules for drunk men and women who have sex.

56 people like this
Posted by Que Pasa
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 9, 2016 at 10:18 am

I think the problem is the potential of male violence. Alcohol and high levels of testosterone in young men just don't mix! The effect is that high levels of risk-taking occur.

63 people like this
Posted by VM
a resident of Southgate
on Apr 9, 2016 at 10:57 am

To everyone who is trying to cast some blame on the woman who was drunk, you are so wrong. Go back and read the details of the case. The woman was black out drunk, and Mr. Turner took advantage of her. When the grad students saw him, he ran away-- showing he was in enough control of his mental capacities to know what he was doing was wrong and despicable.

Could alcohol have played a role in his behavior? It most likely did. But no amount of drinking gives you the right to violate another person. Especially one who is effectively unconscious.

I agree with this editorial. As a Stanford alumna, I think this is a perfect moment to do more and raise more awareness on sexual assault. Unlike other cases of assault, this one was not shoved under the rug, but dealt with out in the open. That should be the norm, not the exception.

52 people like this
Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 9, 2016 at 11:48 am

"I'm a woman, I attended parties in college. My mother taught me early that a young woman needs to be careful." -- from poster 'Once Young" above.

EVEN SO - there is NO excuse for sexual assault/rape.

Being drunk may be a bad idea, but it DOES NOT give any excuse to ANY person to attack another.
No excuse for robbery, either, for example. (One could lift a wallet off of someone who is drunk.) Would yo be OK with that?!

We have no way of knowing if Brock would turn out to be a serial predator (or already was) or if this was a one-time-only offense. Problem is, it doesn't matter. What he did was WRONG and a criminal offense for which he has now been convicted. Fact.

22 people like this
Posted by @ How it's done
a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 9, 2016 at 9:48 pm

Well said. I agree completely. Sounds like Vanderbilt had an excellent response.

However, at Stanford, Hennessy is going this summer.

Etch is staying on for a while for the transition. So no huge changes will take place for that while, sadly. But you're on to something.

30 people like this
Posted by Victim Blaming
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 10, 2016 at 1:34 pm

@Annette- your contention that both kids got drunk but one was (unjustly) more severely punished seems way off base to me. There's a big difference between getting drunk and committing a crime while you're drunk. When two drunk people get into a car, the driver bears a different responsibility than the passenger. If the passenger were killed in a car accident would the driver be let off since his victim, the passenger, was also drunk? I don't think so and in that circumstance nobody would be blaming the victim yet in the case of sexual assault it happens all the time. And it's wrong.

Of course we want to teach our daughters to avoid becoming drunk because it makes them vulnerable to a myriad of things, not just sexual assault - when drunk they could become victims of rape, mugging, any number of accidents and even murder. However we don't forgive perpetrators of crimes because they're drunk and to suggest that Turner is not a serious sexual predator because he was drunk is a baseless assumption. First, we don't know whether he's assaulted women in the past (just because he didn't get caught doesn't mean he hasn't done it) and whether he would continue to do so if he got away with it this time. And even if it was a one time offense, is that okay? If your daughter was raped by a first time offender would that be forgivable? Should her rapist only get a hand slap since he hadn't done it before? Would her trauma be less because she was his first victim?

Also, I agree with Mauricio- fine, upstanding guys don't rape girls when they get drunk - guys that sexually assault vulnerable women have that predilection to begin with. To have failed to convict Turner would have rubber stamped "date rape" (which seems to be rampant in college campuses now) as an acceptable practice. These guys need to understand that sexual assault is a crime and anybody committing such crimes, drunk or not, are indeed sexual predators that should be convicted and officially registered as sexual offenders.

5 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 10, 2016 at 3:54 pm

@Victim Blaming - what I am saying is that the problems of the night started with the excessive drinking and if campuses can get that under control they will have taken a huge step forward in helping young people avoid ruinous situations such as this one. Everyone is better able to recognize danger and behave appropriately when unimpaired.

7 people like this
Posted by Victim Blaming
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 10, 2016 at 5:48 pm

@Annette- my apologies- I addressed you in error. I meant to address my comments to Once Young. She felt it was unfair that Turner was punished and the victim was not.

29 people like this
Posted by eileen
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 10, 2016 at 11:47 pm

eileen is a registered user.

As a woman I am surprised at the level of hatred toward this 19 year old boy, and the joyful idea that his life is ruined and he will be spending the rest of his life with a scarlet letter attached to his sleeve as a sex offender.

Two people are [portion removed] drunk, a young 22 year old woman and an 18 year old, out of control, boy. A ruined life forever. Just totally sad...

It seems like everyone here is making this kid into the sacrificial lamb for all the campus drinking and date rape going
on all over this country. Stanford is no different than any other campus! Drinking is the problem! Lets focus on this, OK? Why are we treating our girls like wilting flowers incapable of taking care of themselves? Why are we so dismissive of the fact that this girl had 4 shots of whisky even before she arrive at Stanford? She needs to take some responsibility for that. Does this kid have to spend the rest of his life as a sex offender? Yes, he did a bad thing by not helping this girl when she was so drunk but his punishment in my opinion, was way too severe!

40 people like this
Posted by Appalled
a resident of Menlo Park
on Apr 11, 2016 at 12:31 pm

For those who think the victim wasn't "punished": the after effects of this case will haunt her forever. While she was unconscious at the time, coming to in a hospital and finding out what was happening when Turner was interrupted, will have a lasting negative impact on her. Victims are, by definition, harmed by the victimizer, and "justice" (his conviction) doesn't undo that.

A recent online article discussed stages of male/female relations before and after the introduction of the Pill. Before contraception, men understood the potentially life-changing impact of having sex and conceiving a child. Certainly men and women got black-out drunk then, but date rape wasn't common. After our society became accustomed to the sexual freedom contraception allowed, men began to feel entitled to sex and women were expected to put out.

Elite young men (athletes, top of the class, Stanford-qualified, etc.) are allowed to feel entitled to superior privileges. One of these entitlements is sex. When alcohol loosens inhibitions, the vague moral/ethical awareness that "I shouldn't" gets over-ridden by "I want" -- and especially because there are so many victim blamers, the entitlement attitude permits these young men to take what they want.

The comparison to other crimes that we all know we shouldn't commit, such as stealing wallets, is an excellent opportunity to see that we don't lose all moral judgement when we get drunk. Societal attitudes towards drunkeness and various crimes affect our own moral compasses. If Turner existed in a bubble of elite privilege that winked at sexual transgressions, and blamed women instead of men for what happens when the two are drunk, then he understood at a base level that he could probably get away with whatever he wanted on an unconscious victim.

For Turner and his supporters/apologists, the sense of shock and outrage that he is being (justly) punished for sexual assault while drunk is based on too strong a belief in the double standard that women are responsible for how men treat them, but men are not responsible for how they treat women.

Regarding alcohol on campus: think about the negative impact to Stanford's application stats if it were a dry campus! Stanford (or rather, Etchmendy) won't even ban smoking on campus, probably in the belief that a non-smoking campus would be less attractive to international students and professors (as well as unfortunate nicotine addicts in the U.S.).

With Hennessy, Etchmendy, and Saloner on the way out, perhaps the Stanford community can do a little reset and become less aggressive in its "any means justified" pursuit of prestige. Yes, Stanford, you are a world-class institution; Harvard knows it is now the Stanford of the East. Having achieved that pinnacle, Stanford has the opportunity to take the lead in resolving problems that have become rife on college campuses. In addition to sexual assault, perhaps they can reduce student suicide rates, both in colleges and in high schools where teens are breaking under the stress of qualifying for elite colleges. And focus on reversing global warming instead of maximizing incomes of corporate leaders. How much of the increasing wage gap is due to the encouragement of excessive greed at the GBS and other elite business schools? Be a global leader by improving global issues, rather than exacerbating them.

39 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 11, 2016 at 4:01 pm

"As a woman I am surprised at the level of hatred toward this 19 year old boy, ..."

What boy? A 19 year old male is an adult, legally able to make decisions and required to face the consequences.

"his punishment in my opinion, was way too severe!"

Being a member of the athlete elite isn't the hunting license it used to be. Nor is being a male, for that matter.

6 people like this
Posted by Charlie
a resident of another community
on Apr 11, 2016 at 5:06 pm

There is a lot of discussion about the rape culture at Stanford, which is unsubstantiated and exaggerated. This is a problem on all college campuses, not just one. And what is all the finger pointing and blame saying what Stanford ought to have done to prevent this. The University has a lot of programs and staff to teach students to make better decisions. they have put a lot in place to reduce the incidence of this very serious crime. But "Stanford" can't be every where at all times, which is why they emphasize to students that the community members need to watch after each other and stop things before they happen. Remember, too, that Stanford is a residential community more than 16,000 students and a daytime population of 12,000 faculty and staff. When a rape happens in Menlo Park at a private party, do you blame Menlo Park? This doesn't make a lot of sense to me.

6 people like this
Posted by not even surprised anymore
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 12, 2016 at 2:14 pm

[Post removed.]

27 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 12, 2016 at 3:38 pm

"what is all the finger pointing and blame saying what Stanford ought to have done to prevent this[?]"

OK, I'll take a shot at it. How about publicizing this perp's sentence? And his legal bills.

24 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Apr 13, 2016 at 6:34 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

" And what is all the finger pointing and blame saying what Stanford ought to have done to prevent this"

The University turns a blind eye to the every day problem of underage alcohol consumption. When was a student at Stanford last arrested for underage drinking?

If students can blatantly ignore one law why should they worry about other laws?

This simply sets the stage for irresponsible behavior and bad outcomes.

25 people like this
Posted by @Peter Carpenter
a resident of Stanford
on Apr 13, 2016 at 8:09 am

"When was a student at Stanford last arrested for underage drinking?"

I can't say for sure when exactly the arrest was made, but it was prior to 2004 That was when the previous Deputy DA resigned.

Before that year Stanford students had been prosecuted for quite a few illegalities committed on campus and the surrounding area.

Now, with less prosecution, a lot of Stanford students seem to think they are immune from arrest.

20 people like this
Posted by Victim Blaming
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 14, 2016 at 10:14 am

" And what is all the finger pointing and blame saying what Stanford ought to have done to prevent this"

The title of this editorial was "Stanford's Deafening Silence". Stanford had an opportunity to publicly condemn what happened by issuing a statement both in condemnation of the rape and in support of the victim. That didn't happen and their silence on the issue could be construed as indifference to the on-going problem of sexual assaults on campus.

2 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 15, 2016 at 11:41 am

Sometimes it seems like we live in the Age of Outrage. Not just with regard to sexual assault (which I agree is a bad and unacceptable act)but in general. Often information is presented as fact even though it may not be. For this issue, I wonder if someone with access to validated information can provide some stats about the various issues raised in the above posts. What is the frequency of sexual assault on America's campuses? And at Stanford? Are campuses worse than the general population or is it just more shocking that such things happen on campuses? Is this more of a problem @ elite schools and with elite athletes - or is it that their high visibility makes for a good story, for better and for worse? Has media coverage turned the issue into a "cause celebre" making the issue seem like it is so "commonplace" that Stanford has in fact become too dangerous a campus for young women? Frankly, I find that hard to believe. I was astounded to read in this forum that some would deny their daughters the opportunity to attend Stanford because of this and think it would be helpful to know the facts.

4 people like this
Posted by Mary
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 15, 2016 at 8:47 pm

@Annette- I'm sure Google has the answers to all your questions.

9 people like this
Posted by Sue Bee
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 19, 2016 at 8:58 pm

Before you go after one student from Stanford to set an example, look at the entire culture Stanford has created. Judges and lawyers who are Stanford grads have been acting under the color of law to steal our children and our property in our family courts. Nobody is brave enough to take that on and children are being raped by abusive parents who are awarded custody by these judges and lawyers. It must stop. Jeff Rosen must have the courage to address the bigger issues ! Web Link

2 people like this
Posted by Laura
a resident of another community
on Jun 10, 2016 at 12:49 pm

[Post removed.]

2 people like this
Posted by Fairy tales
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 10, 2016 at 4:11 pm

[Post removed.]

3 people like this
Posted by Change the norms
a resident of Stanford
on Jun 10, 2016 at 4:18 pm

Is it really that hard to control binge drinking? Fraternities have a governance structure and possibly a faculty advisor. How about taking some responsibility?
How about no drinking after a certain hour? or any other reasonable limitation.
No drinking by under 21 year olds. Whatever would curb the animal behavior. And curb the richboy privilege.

Sure, it won't be perfect, but the norms for excessive drinking can change. I doubt that all the students are binge drinkers. But no one wants to be labelled a spoiler, so the norms have to change.

6 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Jun 10, 2016 at 4:23 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Stanford's Fundamental Standard states:

"Students are expected to respect university policies as well as state and federal law."

Given that underage drinking is a clear violation of state law why does the University tolerate widespread violation of their Fundamental Standard?

2 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 10, 2016 at 4:44 pm

"She said that her experience with Brock Turner wasn't consensual because she wouldn't have consented to such a thing. But, that was after the police had defined it as non-consensual. And, that was what she thought when she was sober. When she was drunk, she might have felt differently. Getting drunk changes people's attitudes."

Practical advice guys: If your partner is bombed out, back off. Way off. Don't risk ambiguity of consent. It ain't worth the hassle.

6 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 10, 2016 at 5:52 pm

Re the "deafening silence," I think it's quite telling the Joe Biden, the US Congress, the Mayor of New York City and so many other public officials have shown leadership in holding events where they responded to the victim's statement and in some cases held public readings of her letter.

Those events were 3,000 miles away. Where was the local leadership?

[Portion removed.]

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