The Site Of The Stanford Rape Case Is Now A Memorial To The Woman Who Was Assaulted

"It is my hope that this will be a reminder of the importance of consent and respect that we need to work towards on this campus."

In January 2015, Stanford University student Brock Turner sexually assaulted an intoxicated and unconscious 22-year-old woman known only as Emily Doe behind a dumpster after a nearby fraternity party. Turner was convicted of three counts of sexual assault in March 2016 and was sentenced to six months in prison, which in and of itself was controversial given the heinous nature of the crime. Turner only served half of the sentence before being released, but people haven't forgotten about Doe.

To that end, nearly three years after the assault took place, Stanford University has announced it has turned the location of Doe's traumatic experience into a garden and memorial site to honor her. The tranquil space will also act as an area where other students can have the opportunity to contemplate and reflect.

According to Yahoo Lifestyle, the idea to create the garden came from Michele Landis Dauber, a professor of law and sociology at Stanford, and a family friend of Doe's. With Doe's blessing and permission from the university, Dauber led the efforts to replace the dumpster (which could have been triggering for some) with benches and a fountain, both of which have already been erected. 



"I felt that the dumpster had become a symbol of campus rape and that to leave the space without interpretation would invite fear and confusion on the part of vulnerable students," Daubner explained. "By interpreting the space as we have with a calming area and a plaque, Stanford admits that this happened here but invites a response that centers on the experience of the survivor and allows students to grapple with those events in a meaningful way."

The plaque Daubner mentioned is expected to feature a portion of the impactful 12-page letter Doe read to Turner at his sentencing. In the moving missive, per Palo Alto Online, Doe told Turner, "Your damage was concrete; stripped of titles, degrees, enrollment. My damage was internal, unseen, I carry it with me. You took away my worth, my privacy, my energy, my time, my safety, my intimacy, my confidence, my own voice, until today," adding, "You took away my worth."

For Daubner, the space is more than just a place to reflect. Its location is also key. "By locating the marker where the assault occurred, students are reminded that these events are happening just steps from the back door of their residence," she told Yahoo Lifestyle. "It reminds them that two students intervened but that many didn't even notice, perhaps prompting them to be more aware of what is happening around them."

At Stanford and at colleges and universities around the country, sexual assault remains a problem, so the awareness Daubner mentioned is crucial. The Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) reports over 23 percent of female undergraduate students experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence, or incapacitation during college. Furthermore, as the current administration has rescinded some Obama-era protections for victims of sexual assault, there's speculation the problem may only get worse.

Though the garden hasn't been embraced by everyone at Stanford, many students are glad to see the site has been turned into something positive. 

Kappa Alpha, the university fraternity which hosted the party that Doe attended on the night of the assault, told that Stanford Daily that it "wholeheartedly agrees with the administration's decision to place a contemplative space that brings awareness of sexual assault to the greater community. We, along with our neighboring houses, see ourselves as stewards of this space and will do our very best to preserve its significance."

Cover image via achinthamb / Shutterstock.com.

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