Stanford is mostly known for it’s prestigious academics and athletics, not so much its activism but today, that’s about to change.
This last week was graduation at Stanford and many of the students used the event to voice their frustrations with the lenient sentence to former student Brock Turner.
While the sexual assault case wasn’t discussed in the ceremony itself, but you couldn’t miss the topic thanks to signs held by students, hidden messages in the words of commencement speakers and if that wasn’t enough you couldn’t miss the plane flying overhead with a banner that read, “PROTECT SURVIVORS, NOT RAPISTS #PERSKYMUSTGO”.
Quick update: Turner faced up to 14 years in prison for raping an unconscious woman and instead the judge, Aaron Persky, only gave him a 6 month sentence (3 if he behaves) and Turner is trying to appeal the sentence for an even lesser one.
Here’s a letter we wrote to the victim that gives you an idea where we stand on that: click here
The group responsible for the flying banner over the stadium is known as UltraViolet. They also took out a full-page color ad in the Stanford Daily that had the same message, “PROTECT SURVIVORS, NOT RAPISTS #PERSKYMUSTGO”.
It’s custom at Stanford for the seniors to walk around the stadium in elaborate halloween-esque costumes to pose for pictures with family and friends. One senior, Paul Harrison, decided to forgo the costume and simply carried a sign that read, “Rape Is Rape”.
“This is about making a stand against the judicial system,” Harrison told BuzzFeed News.
Other signs filled the stadium with statements like, “It doesn’t matter what she was drinking,” and “Justice for Survivors, Not Leniency for Rapists.”
During the procession of “Pomp and Circumstance” one female senior stood up with a sign that said “Stanford Protects Rapists”.
President John Hennessy did make a statement during his address saying, “in solidarity with and support for the thousands of survivors of sexual and relationship violence,” along with the victims of Saturday night’s Orlando nightclub shooting.
“As events on our own campus and around the world remind us, violence in all forms has become a scourge in our society,” the Stanford President said, still never fully addressing Turner. Towards the end of his speech he did thank the two men who stopped Turner and held him until police arrived, calling them “heroes”.
One of the Stanford law professors and personal friend to the rape victim told BuzzFeed News that protests are very rare on campus.
“We don’t get student protests at Stanford,” she said. “Students at Stanford are very conservative — it is not a school known for activism. So for students to launch a campaign like this …. I read this as a sign of the total lack of confidence or trust in the administration. I would say trust is at an all-time low.”
Senior Violet Trachtenberg helped organize the protesters opened up about what the case meant to her.
“It’s scary to know the powerful places Stanford students will go, and it’s scary to know that there are people graduating on Sunday who don’t know about consent,” she said. “There are Brock Turners walking across the stage [at commencement.]”
“Most Stanford students are not supportive of activism,” Trachtenberg said. “People think protesting is ungrateful. I think it’s the opposite. It’s how we show we care. This is about holding the institution, which has given me so much, accountable for the violence it enacts and the violence it condones.
I consider this my final act of love for Stanford.”