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Campanile Article: Ramifications of Rape Culture

Original post made by Palo Alto Parent, Palo Alto High School, on Apr 29, 2014

Last week The Campanile, Paly’s student newspaper, published an in-depth article called “Ramifications of Rape Culture,” which details the aftermath of the “rape culture” stories published a year ago in Paly’s student magazine, Verde.

“Verde described an environment in which rape was considered excusable and the victim is often blamed for their involvement,” the Campanile story recounts.

The Verde articles last year sparked discussion within the Paly school community, and also gained attention in local and national media, and may have contributed to the June 2013 opening of an OCR Title IX investigation of sexual harassment at Paly. These “unforeseen repercussions have shaken up the district and the Palo Alto community ever since,” according to the Campanile.

The Campanile article describes events related to the ongoing OCR investigation, and also explores the role of streaking at Paly in possibly contributing to a culture that has eroded the environment for women and girls on the Paly campus.

“Many argue that streaking is entirely unrelated to the OCR investigation. However, as more details and definitions are brought into the light, the separation between streaking and the rape culture begin to grow more and more hazy,” the article states.

“Rape culture…encompasses several issues, but essentially boils down to an environment of hostility toward women, where sexual harassment is normalized and accepted.”

The Campanile article concludes that rape culture is “an issue within high schools across the nation and should be treated as such,” arguing that solutions to rectify the situation at Paly will “only work to solve a singular problem within a larger issue.”

Paly grad and former Verde editor Evelyn Wang, who worked on the rape culture articles, believes that the OCR investigation will only benefit the school culture overall, according to the Campanile article.

“I support any steps that will improve our society and institutions’ treatment of sexual harassment, violence and assault,” Wang is quoted as saying.

The entire Campanile article can be found at this link:

Web Link

Comments (17)

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Posted by village fool
a resident of another community
on Apr 29, 2014 at 10:44 pm

Thank you Palo Alto Parent!
Yes, this may be an issue across the nation. No - this is not a good excuse.
It seems to me that this issue is not disconnected from the other issues which brought the OCR to PAUSD, the culture, fear of retaliation that was mentioned so many times, etc.

I am reminded again of LaToya Baldwin Clark, who spoke at the PAUSD board meeting after the (first) OCR case became public knowledge. She noted that a recognizing bullying does not call for legal education; heart should suffice. Common sense comes in handy. I noted the link where she can be watched here - Web Link

I also noted (Dec 20, 2013) that "...That goes back to the law of the land, where there is no accountability, no transparency. This is a land where common sense was not exercised, a wild west where imperfect policies are irrelevant..." And so it continues.

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Posted by observer
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 30, 2014 at 6:18 am

The article quotes Skelly saying that he has no idea why OCR would be interested in sexual harassment at Paly. At exactly the same time that Skelly secretly had to airlift the principal out of Paly for sexual harassment. You have to admire the chutzpah.

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Posted by Palo Alto Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 30, 2014 at 10:15 am

The Campanile article reports that superintendent Kevin Skelly and Paly principal Kim Diorio believe that the OCR’s decision to initiate its own investigation of sexual harassment at Paly—known as a “compliance review”-- is an extraordinary course of action on the part of the federal agency.

"After being debriefed by the PAUSD attorney, Diorio revealed that the circumstances surrounding the current investigation are unprecedented," the Campanile reported.

“This is a highly unusual case, because the agency usually starts a case because an individual has a complaint…In this situation, nobody from the school had a complaint,” Diorio said, according to the Campanile article.

Information about compliance reviews, their incidence and the reasons for initiating them can be found on OCR's website:
Web Link

For example, in OCR's 2009 report to Congress:

"In addition to resolving complaints, OCR initiates compliance reviews and takes other proactive steps to focus on specific compliance issues that are particularly acute or national in scope. It has been OCR’s experience that targeted compliance reviews and proactive initiatives increase the impact of OCR’s resources, complement the complaint resolution process, and can benefit larger numbers of students than sole reliance on complaint resolutions, which may involve only one student. Compliance review sites are selected based on various sources of information, including information provided by parents, education groups, media, community organizations, and the public, and, in certain circumstances, on statistical data if they are supported by other sources of information."

This report states that in 2007, OCR initiated 23 compliance reviews; in 2008, it initiated 42.

See full report at:
Web Link

OCR's 2012 report to the President discusses further the incidence and reasons for use of the compliance review enforcement action:

“In the past four years, OCR launched more than 100 compliance reviews—
proactive, broad-scale, systemwide investigations of issues of strategic significance. Recognizing a need for greater coherence and strategic focus in its compliance review docket, OCR implemented, during this time, a collaborative, data-driven process to guide its attorneys and investigators through multiple steps of analysis—including a comprehensive examination of each proposed proactive investigation with regard to its need and priority, causes of concern, geography, severity, impact and other relevant information. With coordination and support from national headquarters, each regional office throughout the country now annually launches compliance reviews that are designed to effect significant change at the target
institutions and provide widely applicable solutions to civil rights problems faced by institutions elsewhere….

“OCR’s compliance reviews have dealt with never-before addressed issues, keeping pace with emerging concerns and questions arising under the civil rights laws that OCR enforces, including sexual violence at the K–12 and postsecondary levels; comparability of resources; bullying and harassment; booster clubs and the distribution of athletic dollars and resources; charter schools and authorizers; state transportation support for students with disabilities; shortened school days; food allergies; access to college- and career-preparatory courses and services; disproportionate discipline rates; minority over-representation in special education
programs and under-representation in talented and gifted programs; and access to electronic and web-based educational resources.”

See full report at:
Web Link

Like this comment
Posted by angry Paly mom
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 2, 2014 at 7:31 pm

Yes the poor me, why us, tone from Skelly in the Campanile is the real story. Just a few weeks after it was disclosed that Paly Principal Phil Winston stepped down from his position after receiving a disciplinary letter that was issued due to substantiated allegations of sexual harassment, Skelly cannot understand why Paly is being investigated.

The principal of the school is the school officer who is ultimately responsible under district policy for ensuring that the school is free of sexual harassment. Rather than following that responsibility, according to the district itself Phil Winston created an environment that could be characterized as sexually hostile. Part of that environment included allegations that Winston made improper comments to and about students, such as remarking that an african american student had a "black dong" and that is why white girls liked him. He asked a male student whether he got a lot of pussy. He commented on the naked breasts of a streaker to another female student. He stroked a student's ear, and another student's arm. He gave a staff member unwanted physical attention including backrubs.

During the time that Phil was engaged in these behaviors, female students were contending that they were being subjected to a hostile environment in the form of rape culture (their term). At least one student was forced to leave school as the result of reported harassment.

Why OH WHY is everybody picking on PAUSD? [Portion removed.]

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Posted by parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on May 2, 2014 at 8:39 pm

Rape occurs on every high school and college campus across the country. I'm not saying it is right but the OCR took an interest in Paly after Michele Dauber "brought" it to their attention. As she states, she is close personal friends with their former head, Russlyn Ali. If she and her husband are for transparency, I would love to see a request for public information from the OCR related to the Daubers. She was also very involved with the formation of Stanford's policy. Not all students are happy with it. [Portion removed.]

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Posted by Angry Paly mom
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 2, 2014 at 10:06 pm

According to the Campanile story Professor Dauber tried to advise the district how to do the right thing and they didn't listen to her. I for one appreciate her efforts to protect students from sexual assault both at Stanford and at Paly. If you talk to women at Stanford she is a truly caring Professor who always makes time for her students and works night and day on this issue to keep Stanford women safe. It is ridiculous to see her being treated this way for trying to help protect our girls from the rape culture and alleged hostile environment at Paly. Thank you Professor Dauber.

She didn't have to take her time to help. Frankly I don't see anything wrong with reporting it. You are acting like it would be horrible if she reported the district to OCR. Phil Winston said "I bet you get a lot of pussy" to a male studen as well as a lot of other offensive and sexually inappropriate things allegedly. Do you think that should be investigated thoroughly? I do.

I don't know who reported to OCR. Whoever they are, thank you. It was probably the same teacher who reported to Scott Bowers. Actually I heard OCR read it in the paper. But whatever the reason, It seems to be improving as a result of the investigation, so bravo.

Like this comment
Posted by parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on May 2, 2014 at 10:18 pm

Again, rape occurs at every high school and college. The Daubers are getting a lot of press by highlighting the schools in Palo Alto. Unfortunately, they are going after the schools instead of after the culture of the community that allows this behavior. It doesn't come from the schools. It comes from the parents and the lack of educating their kids. Do you honestly think that high school kids learn that "rape" is okay from the schools? No, they learn they are not accountable for their behaviors from their parents. They learn that rape is okay from the internet. Start holding the community as a whole accountable, not just the schools. Start reading your kid's FB, instagram, pages. Just watch a few episodes of TV shows that show this occurs everywhere. The Palo Alto community is no different than any other.

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Posted by Angry Paly mom
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 2, 2014 at 11:08 pm

Yes I am sure every school has a principal who walks up to a male student and says "I bet you get a lot of pussy," and comments on the naked breasts of underage girls. We all have that problem. Not.

I am deeply offended at the lengths to which some people in this district will go to defend the district personnel. This is deeply wrong. And not every place bungles sexual harassment response. Stanford, for example, where Professor Dauber (who is absolutely respected for her work on this at the national level [portion removed]) worked on the policy, handles this extremely well. Stanford is across the street. We should do what they do, instead of attacking when they try to help.

Everywhere has rape but not everywhere has an allegedly sexually harassing principal, and an out of control streaking epidemic, and a lack of investigation and follow up, and puts said alleged sexual harassing principal back in the classroom. And not every school whinges like a small child about how it's not fair that a professor and the government are criticizing it for not doing enough about rape and sexual harassment.

And another thing, I was very bothered by the district's suggestion that it shoudl not be investigated by OCR because in Saratoga poor Audrey Potts died whereas here no one died. That felt to me like a very wrong usage of Pott's death to make some kind of point about how we aren't as bad as Saratoga. Stay Classy, PAUSD.

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Posted by among others
a resident of Community Center
on May 2, 2014 at 11:57 pm

Seems like among the ramifications is the repetition of Winston's foul lines over and over again by angry Paly mom.

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Posted by We have to deal with this
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 3, 2014 at 7:17 am

Rape does not occur at every high school. It is too common at high schools with average to high enrollments, and it isn't necessarily an annual thing at every school. Also, Phil Winston's comments were not helpful in a school environment in which some parents felt it was okay to impose their children's genitals into the view of other children, while other parents saw it for what it is, textbook sexual harassment, maybe because if some young man flashes his genitals on El Camino Real in front of PAPD he would be arrested for a crime. Paly and PAUSD have a sexual harassment, and apparently a sexual assault, crisis.

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Posted by among others
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 3, 2014 at 7:54 am

Interesting, "we have to deal with this" - a twist to angry mom's way of discussing with this - repeating twice in a 1 paragraph the offenses of streaking.

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Posted by former Paly parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on May 3, 2014 at 8:43 am

Well, you want your adult administration leaders of your local high school to be of good character. They set the tone for the environment. I went to Gunn High School myself and worked in the front office as a student volunteer and noticed the principal then behaved professionally. That's what one would and should expect! By contrast, Phil Winston's comments/behavior/"management style" of hanging around and having odd interactions with students and staff were completely unacceptable and showed very poor judgment even if nobody was "injured" by them per se.
I strongly oppose the idiotic streaking and while it occurred during our tenure at the school, I deny it is a "tradition" that should be "respected," (!) which apparently IS the opinion of some parents here!

Like this comment
Posted by Are we special?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 3, 2014 at 2:22 pm

If we are like very other school district, then we are mediocre.

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Posted by Experienced Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on May 3, 2014 at 8:24 pm

Paly is a highly academic school and the rape culture allegations are overblown. I have one Paly alum and two current Paly students and they say those involved in partying (not the majority) are the ones who get into those situations. The school is not responsible for off-campus activities. These kids want to engage in illegal activities and alter their judgement in social situations, then they can only blame themselves. Kids who stay home, care about their schoolwork, hang out with good friends, and do not engage in drinking and drugs don't get into trouble - this is the majority of the students at Paly.

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Posted by more experienced parent
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 3, 2014 at 10:51 pm

Experienced parent thinks that rape is the fault of the girls who experience it and "they can only blame themselves." According to "experienced," Kids who stay home, care about their schoolwork, hang out with good friends, and do not engage in drinking and drugs don't get into trouble."

And with that shameless exhibition of rape culture, Palo Alto once again proves that it is a soulless (if "highly academic") community. This town needs a moral makeover.

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Posted by among others
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 3, 2014 at 11:12 pm

[Post removed.]

Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Community Center

on Jun 5, 2017 at 7:23 pm

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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