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Actor Sharon Stone reading Emily Doe letter Nov. 18

Actor Sharon Stone reading Emily Doe letter Nov. 18

A New Understanding on Campus Sexual Assault

Santa Clara University hosts symposium on the difficult topic of campus sexual assault.

An all-day symposium at SCU focused on the problem of sexual assault on college campuses, and new agreements to prevent and address them.

At a time of heightened awareness of sexual assault on college campuses, Santa Clara University joined a half dozen other universities in signing a “memorandum of understanding” with law enforcement officials. The MOU, announced Friday at a conference spearheaded by Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen and hosted by Santa Clara University, aims to get all parties on the same page when it comes to responding to allegations of sexual assault on campuses.

“We come together today with one voice to say we will not tolerate sexual assault on our campuses; we will work together to protect our students; and we will support victims of sexual assault,” said President Michael Engh, S.J., who kicked off the all-day symposium Nov. 18.

The symposium featured talks that riveted the audience, including actor and activist Sharon Stone reading the text of the victim statement from Emily Doe in the Stanford sexual assault case, and a talk by activist Kamilah Willingham, who described being sexually assaulted by a friend while at Harvard Law School, and the painful backlash she encountered after reporting it.

Congresswoman Jackie Speier recounted gut-wrenching cases of sexual assault from around the country in which universities and police failed to help, or even punished, victims and witnesses to sexual assault. She cited one rape victim who was advised to begin wearing sneakers, so she could outrun her rapist if she encountered him again. “This is more than wrong, more than insulting, more than damaging. This borders on criminal complicity,” said Speier, who made news when she read aloud Emily Doe’s letter on the House floor to spotlight the problem.

Author and speaker Kevin Powell spoke about the problem of “rape culture,” which he said he learned firsthand means men are socialized to degrade and diminish women, and how manhood is too often equated with power, ego, and conquest rather than respectful relationship with women.

SCU's associate dean for student life Matthew Duncan joined a panel on prevention practices at various colleges and universities. The final session featured former CNN anchor and current HLN host Ashleigh Banfield leading a panel discussion about a hypothetical sexual assault case, which touched on the variety of complex issues including confidentiality, reporting requirements, advocacy and federal Title IX, which was explained by Santa Clara University’s Title IX Coordinator Belinda Guthrie.

As Fr. Engh noted, “We all want to prevent campus sex assaults, and in the cases where they occur, work hand -in- hand to make sure the survivor is cared for and the perpetrator held accountable.”


Actor and activist Sharon Stone read excerpts from the letter by sexual assault victim Emily Doe, at a conference at Santa Clara University Nov. 18.