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Breaking the Culture of Sexual Assault Symposium

The Clayman Institute has a history of confronting pressing and timely gender issues. This long tradition includes involvement not only in the prevention of sexual assault, but also in thinking about its root causes. In a two year symposium, the Institute launched a series of talks and discussions to address multiple facets of the topic in order to create best practices and novel solutions. Each quarter, we investigated a different aspect of the culture of sexual assault with programs designed to engage students, staff, faculty and the community. 

Our approach is, as always, intersectional in nature: we emphasize the importance of taking into account diverse experiences in order to understand how sexual violence affects different individuals and communities in varying ways. We explored the interactions, social influences and expectations that collectively give rise to a culture where sexual assault is a continued issue on campuses and in society. 

We dug deeper into this issue with events that explored the underlying causes of sexual assault and the culture that allows sexual assault to continue to permeate our college campuses and our society at large. Consistent with the 2015 Provost’s Task Force Recommendations, we believe that an emphasis on education is crucial and that all members of our community need to be engaged in solutions.

"Our community must fundamentally understand what sexual violence is, why it is perpetrated, and how to prevent it."

Our goal in this series was to convene intellectual discussions on these difficult issues and engage students, faculty, and staff in a community-wide conversation designed to generate solutions.


Each quarter investigated a different aspect of the culture of sexual assault.

  • We kicked off the series in winter quarter 2016 with the theme of Masculinity & Men with two highly regarded writers and scholars, Jackson Katz and Professor Michael Messner.
  • In spring quarter our theme was Primary Prevention with a panel of faculty experts from around the country who explore best practices for supporting students and changing campus climate, followed later in the quarter with a panel aimed at students on affirmative consent.
  • The 2016-17 academic year began with the theme of Intersecting Identities, where we shed light on the experiences of groups, such as LGBTQ students and women students of color, who are most vulnerable to sexual assault. The Jing Lyman Lecture presented by Kimberlé Crenshaw, featuring the #SayHerName campaign, highlighted this theme.
  • Our last lecture of this series was in the fall of 2017 on the topic of Solutions, and was delivered by Zerlina Maxwell, lawyer, activist, and media commentator. Engaging students, staff, and faculty in the changing national discussions on this topic, Maxwell offered best practices for addressing and combatting the culture of sexual assault. 

Through this series the Clayman Institute collaborated with other units on campus and highlighted the workshops and events held by others. Through this collaboration, we hoped to motivate a campus-wide, unified approach to breaking the culture of sexual assault.

Read more about our work and programming on sexual assault at Gender News:


We would like to thank the co-sponsors of our series for their generous support:

  • Office of the Provost
  • Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education
  • Vice Provost for Graduate Education
  • OpenXChange
  • Stanford Law School
  • Student Affairs
  • The Program in Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
  • Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society
  • Associated Students of Stanford University (ASSU)
  • Women's Community Center
  • Men & Masculinities Project

Past Events

Tuesday, November 14, 2017, 12:00am
Thursday, January 26, 2017, 12:00am
Tuesday, October 11, 2016, 12:00am
Monday, April 18, 2016, 12:00am - Thursday, May 19, 2016, 12:00am
Thursday, February 18, 2016, 12:00am - Tuesday, March 1, 2016, 12:00am