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Protesters Decry Stanford Rape Sentence at Graduation Ceremony

June 12, 2016, 6:16 PM UTC


A record 18% of this year's graduating class at Stanford started their own companies, solidifying this business school's position as the leading incubator for MBA startups. Its location in the heart of Silicon Valley, not far from Sand Hill Rd., the epicenter of the venture capital world, has made Stanford startups the most generously funded of all new ventures coming out of business school. This year's entering class at Stanford is among the most distinguished its ever had. The average grade point average of the first-year MBAs crept ever higher, to an impressive 3.73, the highest of any U.S. business school and up from Stanford's 3.69 average last year. The average score on the Graduate Management Admission Test is also a new record: 732, up from 729 last year.
Courtesy: Stanford University

Students and rights groups plan to demonstrate at Stanford University’s commencement on Sunday to express outrage over the 6-month jail sentence handed to a former student convicted of sexual assault on the California campus, organizers said on Saturday.

UltraViolet, a women’s rights group, said it commissioned a plane to fly over Stanford’s Palo Alto campus just ahead of graduation ceremonies with a banner reading, “Protect Survivors. Not Rapists. #PerskyMustGo.”

The tag refers to Santa Clara Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky, who handed down what many consider to be an extraordinarily light sentence against former Stanford student-athlete Brock Turner, 20, for his conviction in a 2015 sexual assault.

In addition, Stanford students said on social media that they planned to carry protest signs as they walk toward the prestigious university’s commencement.

Judge Who Gave Stanford Swimmer Light Sentence In Sexual Assault Case Is Now Facing Recall Campaign

Protest organizers from UltraViolet have said online they want to see members of the Stanford community speak out against the sentence. The aim is to strike a blow against a culture on college campuses that they say discourages victims of sexual assault from coming forward.

Turner’s sentencing on June 2 gained international attention after a detailed letter that the victim had read aloud in court was posted online. It describes the devastation the woman felt in being sexual assaulted while unconscious after partying.

A Stanford law professor is leading a signature-gathering drive to remove the judge from office for handing down the six-month sentence even though prosecutors had recommended six years.

Santa Clara County Assistant District Attorney James Gibbons-Shapiro told the San Jose Mercury News that his office does not have a legal basis to appeal the sentence because the judge was authorized by law to mete out the sentence he gave.

Transcript: Peter Thiel at the Hamilton College 2016 Commencement

Some students have said on social media they would protest at “wacky walk,” a Stanford tradition where students in costumes hold celebratory signs as they head toward graduation ceremonies, where documentary filmmaker Ken Burns is scheduled to be the keynote speaker.

Persky is legally unable to comment on the case because Turner is appealing his conviction, Santa Clara County court spokesman Joseph Macaluso has said.

Some media commentators have pushed back against criticism of Persky. At, legal writer Mark Joseph Stern this week described the sentence as too lenient, but wrote that recall efforts against Persky threaten judicial independence.