Stanford University had almost 200 reports of sexual harassment and misconduct—including 29 incidents of sexual assault—in the 2016-2017 academic year, according to a new bombshell report from the school.
More than 16,000 students are enrolled at the elite college.
“Prohibited sexual conduct happens throughout our community at Stanford,” Provost Persis Drell said in a press release to The Mercury News, which first reported on the document. “I believe the actual numbers of incidents of wrongful sexual conduct are probably larger than are being reported to us.”
The 190 reports of misconduct are broken up into various categories, including academic workplace sexual harassment, student sexual harassment, rape, non-consensual touching, stalking, relationship violence, and retaliation. Crimes categorized in the “other” section include “criminal prowling,” indecent exposure, and the filming of a victim through an office window.
The 29 allegations of rape led to only 11 formal investigations, according to the report. It is unclear how many of the cases were referred to law enforcement or prosecuted in court.
Of those 11 investigations, there were only five that resulted in formal consequences for the male perpetrators: One undergraduate student was told to stay away from the victim. Two undergraduate students were suspended for three academic quarters—or one school year.
Both were also told to undergo counseling and to stay away from the victim.
One male graduate student was banned from campus for five years upon graduation. One visiting researcher was permanently banned from campus.
“This movement further underscores that at Stanford, we must confront these issues as community issues, not simply as student issues; we must confront them as our issues, not someone else’s issues,” the provost said in her letter.
She also acknowledged the national #metoo movement, which began last fall with now-notorious sexual assault allegations against movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, noting that it has brought “to light new stories every day and [is] reminding us of the deep impacts of sexual harassment and violence on the lives of countless people in our world.”
Within weeks of the Weinstein news, Stanford came under fire for its handling of a renowned American literature professor’s alleged sexual harassment and rape of a young graduate student. The Mercury News reported that the school kept promoting the legacy of Jay Fliegelman—even after it had secretly suspended him in the case.
The survivor, Seo-Young “Jennie” Chu, went public in a harrowing Entropy piece in November, roiling the elite university’s English Department.
“It’s a story I have told numerous times already—to psychiatrists, to close friends, to myself, to lovers, to neurologists, to therapists,” Chu, now an English professor herself, wrote in the piece. “The story begins with my suicide attempt at age 21 and ends with Stanford’s own punishment of the professor in 2001: two years of suspension without pay. I describe the long horrible months of sexual harassment. I describe the rape—or the parts of it that I can bear to mention out loud. I add that I never pressed charges or received any money from either Stanford or the professor.”
But this wasn’t Stanford’s first stumble on the issue. The school was the center of a major scandal in 2016, when convicted rapist and Stanford swimmer Brock Turner was only sentenced to six months in jail for his violent crimes. The sentence, handed down by Judge Aaron Persky, received harsh criticism.
The story made international waves when Turner’s still-unidentified victim read a statement to him in court that was shared millions of times after it was published online.
The Daily Beast wrote that year that Stanford had reported 26 rapes on its campus in 2012, 2013, and 2014, according to the U.S. Department of Education’s data. That’s about one sexual assault every two weeks in the three years leading up to Turner’s assault of an unconscious woman in 2015.
But Stanford is far from alone on this issue.
Baylor University, which has even now failed to completely shake its 2016 sexual assault scandal, had only four rapes reported in 2014, six in 2013, and two in 2012. The mishandling of sexual assaults at Baylor led to its own bombshell investigation—and the ouster of its revered president, Kenneth Starr, and its beloved football coach, Art Briles.
UC Berkeley also made news this week over a federal review of its handling of sexual misconduct complaints. The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights found that the school failed to give its students the opportunity for formal investigations in their harassment and assault complaints, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
“Ultimately,” Stanford’s provost, Persis Drell, said, “I hope the report helps encourage members of our community to come forward with their concerns and to have conversations about conduct and the expectations we have for one another.”