Sexual Assault

A shared approach to breaking the culture of sexual assault

On February 18, the Clayman Institute launched its 18-month symposium, “Breaking the Culture of Sexual Assault.” The series of lectures, panels and discussions digs deep into the issues surrounding sexual assault to uncover its underlying causes and engage the community in a conversation on potential solutions. The inaugural presentation, More Than a Few Good Men: American Manhood and Violence Against Women, delivered by educator, author and leading anti-sexual assault advocate Jackson Katz, emphasized how gender violence harms men as well as women. Close to 500 attendees filled CEMEX auditorium to hear Katz’s talk, representing 30% undergraduate students (including most of the members of Stanford’s football team), 30% faculty and staff, 26% community members and 14% graduate students and alumnae.

“We are extremely pleased with the successful launch of our symposium on ‘Breaking the Culture of Sexual Assault,’” said Shelley Correll, Faculty Director of the Clayman Institute. “Our goal is to foster a campus-wide spirit of collaboration to motivate a unified approach to breaking the culture of sexual assault. The success of the launch was greatly enhanced by the tremendous cooperation and support we received from our co-sponsors and on-campus groups.”

The broader Stanford community attended, as well. The presence of representatives from the County of Santa Clara Office of Women’s Policy, the Santa Clara Office of the County Executive, the Domestic Violence Council and the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Department underscored the timely and critical nature of the topic. Coaches from men’s and women’s sports teams also attended, both from local high schools and from Stanford. 

Support from Stanford fraternities

“In order to fully address and understand issues of gender-based violence, we must engage men,” said Ann Enthoven, Clayman Institute director of programs. “In that regard, we would particularly like to recognize the support of SAE and Sigma Nu fraternities, who contributed to the success of the Jackson Katz presentation by organizing additional discussions and helping at the event itself.”

“Over the course of the past year, our SAE members have learned a great deal about issues surrounding sexual assault and gender through internal initiatives, but this year we really want to open up the dialogue to a wider audience,” said Nick Burakoff, of SAE Membership Development. “By supporting events like the Jackson Katz talk, we are really trying to help emphasize that these issues affect a variety of students and student groups, not just Greek organizations, and that we should all be engaged in creating a positive atmosphere for discussion.”

Sigma Nu fraternity organized a special workshop for fraternity leaders lead by Katz prior to the main event, attended by twenty-one students from ten different fraternities. The fraternity also hosted a lunch discussion and debrief on the lecture the day after the event, facilitated by Stanford Women’s Community Center (WCC) men’s outreach volunteers Daniel Alvarez-Gavela and Alejandro Schuler, and Donnovan Yisrael from I Thrive @ Vaden. Furthering student involvement, at the main Katz event, SAE fraternity members passed out materials and ran microphones through the audience during the question and answer session.

“On-campus groups, like the WCC men's outreach program, have been working to make the discussion on masculinity more accessible,” commented Alvarez-Gavela. “Events like the Katz debrief that focus on sharing personal stories rather than on intellectual abstraction are proving to be very successful. We’re seeing a shift in the interaction of campus culture and gender related issues,” he continued. “For instance, some fraternities and other community houses have taken the initiative to post signs at their parties stating the definition of consent.”