Stanford faucets athletics official, civil rights legal professional for key fairness and sexual violence response posts

Stanford announced Wednesday that it is appointing two men in key roles to oversee responses to sexual harassment and violence – a decision that drew mixed reactions from survivor advocates.

Deputy Athletics Director Patrick Dunkley will serve as vice provost for institutional justice, access and community, and civil rights attorney Stephen Chen will serve as Title IX coordinator and director of the Sexual Harassment / Assault Response and Education (SHARE) office.

Dunkley, who is currently Deputy Athletics Director and Senior University Advisor, will oversee the University’s initiatives on racial justice and the Institutional Justice and Access Office where the SHARE office is located. Dunkley will replace Lauren Schoenthaler, who served in the role for the past five years.

Chen joins Stanford from the US Department of Education’s Civil Rights Office, where he currently serves as a regulatory attorney and program manager for the agency’s regional office in Denver, Colorado. He will take on the role of Title IX coordinator in mid-May.

Chen will be Stanford’s first Title IX coordinator, who has held a permanent position for more than a year. In January, the university was criticized by advocates of survivors who claimed that the lack of a permanent coordinator for Title IX sends a message of low priority and instability to sexual violence survivors, potentially making them less inclined to report an attack.

As part of a national selection process, Chen met more than 80 students and faculty members and, according to the university, received “enthusiastic support from all areas”. Chen Dunkley will report, along with Provost Persis Drell and Elizabeth Zacharias, Vice Provost of Human Resources, according to EJ Miranda, spokesman for the university.

Surviving student government supporters were cautiously optimistic about the changes, saying they were confident the new faces would help rebuild the “broken trust” between students and these offices.

“We have long asked the Title IX Administration and Office to make serious changes to their leadership and recruit a new permanent coordinator. We appreciate this and hope that this symbolizes reform and continued progress,” wrote Maia Brockbank . 21, Julia Paris ’21 and Krithika Iyer ’21 in a statement. The three are co-chairs of the ASSU Committee on Prevention of Sexual Violence and Assistance to Survivors and co-founders of SVFree Stanford, which combats sexual violence on campus and supports survivors.

They also said they hoped to be involved in similar decisions in the future, writing, “We are proud to have student activists involved in the recruitment process for the new coordinator and hope that our voices will continue to be invited to these important talks will.”

Not all community members were that optimistic. Dunkley’s appointment was criticized by law professor and longtime lawyer for survivors, Michele Dauber, who tweeted Wednesday morning, “Nothing says you can trust [Stanford] Reporting your rape as if appointing a man who has no obvious Title IX expertise and who has been assistant sports director for a decade to oversee all sexual harassment and assault prevention and response. “

Dauber added that because of the appointment, she “can no longer in good faith recommend survivors to use them [Stanford] Reporting and evaluation of processes. “

Dauber claims Dunkley served as a senior officer in an athletics department that did not respond adequately to incidents of sexual violence committed by Stanford athletes, including Brock Turner and a soccer player whose case was reported by the New York Times.

When asked about Dauber’s statements, Dunkley declined to comment, but defended his record and underlined his commitment to building trust and transparency in the community and promoting justice. He added that “It is of vital importance for me personally and professionally to contribute to and support fair and equitable systems and processes.”

Despite this criticism, Dauber hoped Dunkley would be successful in his role, which increases the survivors’ trust in the university’s policies and administrators for victims to report their assaults. “I believe we cannot maintain a safe campus if we do not increase coverage,” she wrote.

“When we listen to the Stanford community, we know we need to build organizational strength in these areas that are critical to the well-being of our community and the future of the university,” Drell said in a statement to Stanford Today.

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