Earlier this year, after being found guilty of three counts of sexual assault—including assault with intent to rape an intoxicated woman—Stanford University swimmer Brock Turner was sentenced to just six months in county jail plus probation. Following days of mounting public outrage and protest, a committee launched a campaign to recall the California judge who presided over the case.
On Monday, Stanford announced a range of new updates to its student alcohol policy, marking yet another chapter in the systemic mangling of the case. The new policy hinges on banning “large volume containers” of hard alcohol (750 mL and above) from parties on campus, rather than the prohibition of liquor itself.
“Our focus is on the high risk of the rapid consumption of hard alcohol,” the policy, which never directly references the Turner case, reads. “Our intention is not a total prohibition of a substance, but rather a targeted approach that limits high-risk behavior and has the backing of empirical studies on restricting the availability of and access to alcohol.”
As Thinkprogress notes, the policy is being criticized for following “a too-familiar rapist defense narrative that often places blame on the victim instead of on the accused.” It also echoes the defense of Turner, who attributed his crime to the “party culture” of “drinking” at Stanford.
After Monday’s announcement, an article titled “Female Bodies and Alcohol” also went live on Stamford’s website. Though the post initially addressed the topics of alcohol and sex directly, according to Thinkprogress, that section has since been deleted by administrators.
“Research tells us that women who are seen drinking alcohol are perceived to be more sexually available than they may actually be,” an archived version of the original text reads. “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.”
Even if the presence of alcohol does put some students at risk, the decision to ban only large bottles of liquor could be seen as a small, haphazard band-aid, when the real issue of campus rape culture continues to go untreated.
First We Feast has reached out to Stanford University for comment, and will update this post if and when a response is received.