Stanford’s New Alcohol Policy Protects Campus Rapists

CREDIT: SHUTTERSTOCK
CREDIT: SHUTTERSTOCK

In an attempt to address recent concerns over campus rape, Stanford University has introduced a new policy that will protect students who decide to rape in the future.

The fix? Banning large containers of hard alcohol from campus undergraduate events and telling women to be careful about how they might be “perceived” by men if they drink.

This new rule, announced Monday, follows a too-familiar rapist defense narrative that often places blame on the victim instead of on the accused. It also echoes the June defense of Brock Turner, a Stanford freshman who blamed “party culture” for his decision to sexual assault a fellow student and whose lenient sentence sent ripples of outrage across campus and the country.

The policy does not apply to graduate students or staff events, insinuating that sexual assault is only a problem among younger students.

A Stanford graduate holds a sign in protest of former student — now convicted rapist — Brock Turner’s lenient sentence at the university’s June graduation ceremony. CREDIT: AP Photo/D. Ross Cameron
A Stanford graduate holds a sign in protest of former student — now convicted rapist — Brock Turner’s lenient sentence at the university’s June graduation ceremony. CREDIT: AP Photo/D. Ross Cameron

A new website under Stanford’s homepage popped up shortly after Monday’s announcement, titled “Female Bodies and Alcohol.”

“A woman will get drunk faster than a man consuming the same amount of alcohol,” reads the page’s first bullet point. It goes on to detail how women should “optimize the positive effects of alcohol and avoid negative consequences.”

The page originally had a section specifically addressing alcohol and sex, but administrators have since deleted it. An archived version of the site holds the cut content.

“Research tells us that women who are seen drinking alcohol are perceived to be more sexually available than they may actually be.”

“Research tells us that women who are seen drinking alcohol are perceived to be more sexually available than they may actually be,” it reads. “Individuals who are even a little intoxicated are more likely to be victimized than those who are not drinking.”

“Other research studies have shown that men who think they have been drinking alcohol…feel sexually aroused and are more responsive to erotic stimuli, including rape scenarios,” it goes on.

“For some, being drunk serves as a justification for behavior that is demeaning or insulting, including the use of others as sexual objects.”

There is no text explaining to the reader why this is not lawful justification, or the legal penalties to acting on this behavior. Which, again, evokes Judge Aaron Persky’s justification of Turner’s offense in June. Persky gave Turner six months of jail time for raping an unconscious woman at a 2015 party. His decision was based heavily on Turner’s own testimony.

“I’ve been shattered by the party culture and risk taking behavior that I briefly experienced in my four months at school,” Turner wrote. He promised to commit his time to teaching other college students how not to fall victim to the same behavior, taking little credit for the actual assault.

“One needs to recognize the influence that peer pressure and the attitude of having to fit in can have on someone… I want to demolish the assumption that drinking and partying are what make up a college lifestyle I made a mistake, I drank too much, and my decisions hurt someone.”

The new Stanford ruling also echoes the testimony of Turner’s friend, Leslie, who also blamed alcohol and partying on the victim’s rape, not Turner.

“I am so sick of hearing these young men are monsters when really, you are throwing barely 20-sometimes into these camp-like university environments,” she wrote. “These are idiot boys and girls having too much to drink…and having clouded judgement.”

Stanford law professor Michele Dauber, who is leading a campaign to recall Judge Persky, shared her thoughts on Stanford’s rule on Twitter.

Dauber said she thinks the ban on large bottles of alcohol on campus will actually put students in even more danger.

“It’s going to drive it underground … and encourage this super quick consumption not in a public area,” she told the Guardian.