As Stanford University continues to reel from former athlete Brock Turner’s conviction for sexual assault on an unconscious woman, the university has removed a section of its website that discussed “Female Bodies and Alcohol” after critics condemned it for promoting “victim-blaming.” The university also adopted a controversial policy change this week that banned liquor from campus parties, a measure that some students described as a tone-deaf and potentially counter-productive attempt at preventing further assaults.
The “Female Bodies and Alcohol” page, a sub-section of the university’s “Alcohol and Drug Info” webpage, was meant to provide women with gender-relevant information about alcohol. A section on the site titled “Alcohol affects both sexual intent and aggression” raised eyebrows on social media by focusing on how men see women who drink — “women who are seen drinking alcohol are perceived as more sexually available than they may actually be,” the page read. The section has since been removed.
By focusing on women’s behavior, argued Matthew Baiza, a 20-year-old junior and cofounder of the Stanford Association of Students for Sexual Assault Prevention, the page suggested that women who drink should be prepared to shoulder the blame if they’re sexually assaulted. Critics also noted that the site had no section on men and alchohol, and made no effort to try to inform men on consent and the behaviors that constitute assault. “It’s very problematic and very dangerous to have that type of material on your website,” said Baiza. “We have to hold perpetrators accountable. Alcohol doesn’t make someone rape someone. Someone chooses to rape someone.”
Stanford spokeswoman Lisa Lapin claimed that the “Female Bodies and Alcohol” page had not been altered, despite archives from June that clearly showed the removal of the controversial section on sexual assault. Lapin has also denied allegations that the new ban on alcohol at campus parties was motivated by the Turner case, saying that the ban was designed solely to “address binge drinking.” Opponents of the liquor ban have suggested the new rule could be counterproductive, as it might encourage students to binge drink before and after parties in private dorms where the risk of sexual assault is higher.
Read the full story at The Guardian.