Brock Turner survivor withdraws from plaque proposal

Student advocacy group circulating petition calling on Stanford to issue public apology to victim

Wooden benches and a bubbling fountain have been installed at a site on Stanford University where former student Brock Turner was found sexually assaulting an unconscious woman in 2015. Photo by Elena Kadvany.

The words of the young woman who was sexually assaulted by former Stanford University student Brock Turner made waves around the world, inspiring legislation and activism, but will not be featured on a plaque on campus.

The anonymous woman, referred to by the pseudonym Emily Doe, has pulled out of conversations with the university to place a plaque on campus featuring words from her now-famous victim impact statement. The plaque was to be installed at the site where Turner sexually assaulted her — behind a Dumpster, outside the Kappa Alpha fraternity house — an area Stanford transformed last fall by installing benches, landscaping and a fountain.

Stanford law professor Michele Dauber, a family friend of Doe's, said Wednesday that Stanford rejected two separate quotes Doe proposed for the plaque, both from her victim impact statement, which she read in court during Turner's sentencing in 2016. Dauber said the decision to reject the quotes was approved by Provost Persis Drell.

Dauber said that Stanford offered alternative quotes, including "I'm okay, everything's okay," which is what Doe recounted telling her sister when she picked Doe up from the hospital after the assault.

"Given this situation, Emily felt the best course was to decline to participate in the memorial plaque," Dauber said.

Stanford spokesman Ernest Miranda said that that the university "could not accept" the quotes she proposed "as they were not consistent with a contemplative space and the intention of a place where members of our community could seek solace."

Sexual assault counselors advised the university that one of the quotes could be "triggering" for victims of sexual violence, Miranda said.

Dauber declined to provide this quote, but said that it was "purposefully selected" because it was the most frequently quoted selection in media coverage.

Stanford proposed three alternative quotes, including "I'm right here, I’m okay, everything's okay, I’m right here."

The university also proposed using: "You are beautiful, you are to be valued, respected, undeniably, every minute of every day, you are powerful and nobody can take that away from you." and "On nights when you feel alone, I am with you. When people doubt you or dismiss you, I am with you. I fought every day for you. So never stop fighting, I believe you."

Dauber described the university's response as "insensitive" and said that "a great university does not fear its students engaging with challenging texts -- it embraces that opportunity."

The Stanford Association of Students for Sexual Assault Prevention, a student advocacy group, has circulated a petition calling on the university to publicly apologize to Doe and immediately install the plaque with the quote she originally chose.


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