Stanford's Graduation is Going to Be Interesting

June 11th 2016

Lucy Tiven

Pomp, circumstance, and protests of campus rape culture. In the wake of the Brock Turner's June 2 sentencing, Stanford students are marching to raise awareness about sexual assault at Sunday's graduation ceremony, according to a Saturday report in the Guardian.

On Tuesday, a campus support group for survivors of sexual assault met to discuss plans to protest the school's commencement ceremony.

The protest will reportedly involve signs, billboards, and "a plane flying over campus pulling a banner," according the Guardian.

“Our focus is not pursuing offenders,” Amanda Lorei, a 23-year-old masters student who will be graduating Sunday, told the Guardian. “But rather making campus safe and holding the university accountable.”

“This protest is my final act of love for Stanford,” 21-year-old Violet Trachtenberg, who is graduating on Sunday and participating in the protest, told the Guardian. “It means holding the university accountable, and hoping it can be better," she explained.

Turner's short sentence has already sparked other calls to action.

As ATTN: has previously reported, this week students circulated a Change.org petition asking the school to issue a public apology to Brock Turner's anonymous victim and dedicate more resources to sexual assault prevention and supporting survivors of sexual assault.

As of Saturday, the petition has been signed by over 118,000 people.

Stephanie Pham, a 19-year-old student and member of Stanford's Association of Students for Sexual Assault Prevention — which penned a letter to Judge Persky before Turner's sentencing, asking that he be face at least the two-year minimum — told the Guardian she was “angry, frustrated and mortified” when the Judge sentenced Turner to six-months in jail (he may serve even less time).

“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to talk about this issue,” Pham told the Guardian. “We’re not going to get another moment like this for a long time."

A petition demanding that Judge Pensky be recalled has also gained major traction on social media.

Outrage over the sentencing has spread online, and even inspired Vice President Joe Biden to pen a letter to Turner's victim, but the school's response has been received somewhat critically.

On Monday, Stanford issued a statement asserting that it had done "everything within its power to ensure that justice was served in this case."

"There has been a significant amount of misinformation circulating about Stanford’s role. In this case, Stanford University, its students, its police and its staff members did everything they could. Stanford University takes the issue of sexual assault extremely seriously and has been a national leader in taking concrete steps to implement prevention programs, to train students on the importance of bystander intervention, to provide support to students who may experience sexual assault and to assure that cases are handled fairly and justly."

But, many found the statement underwhelming.

“What we experienced was an extraordinarily horrible event,” Stanford Professor David Palumbo-Liu, who held a faculty workshop on sexual assault, told the Guardian. “We wanted an extraordinary response. ... A robot could have written it. It was not improper. It was out of touch.”

[h/t the Guardian]