LOS ANGELES, CA - College graduation is a time of celebration, but this year’s commencement at Stanford felt the impact of the national outrage surrounding Brock Turner. The former Stanford freshman was sentenced to only six months in jail for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman in 2015. Some of the Stanford graduating class chose to protest Turner’s sentence at the ceremony.
Instead of the traditional decorated caps, or funny costumes students don for the "wacky walk," they wielded signs criticizing the light sentence Turner received and called out the rape culture that troubles so many college campuses. The signs carried messages like “Teach your son not to rape” and “Brock Turner is not an exception.” Some students wore papers with “⅓” printed on them attached to their mortarboards to reference the World Health Organization’s estimation that more than one third of women worldwide will experience physical or sexual assault in their lifetimes.
Brianne Huntsman, a graduating student explained, “The goal is to amplify the voices of survivors on campus. There is this idea that there is just, quote-unquote, 'one Stanford rapist,' that Brock Turner is the Stanford rapist. And from our work on campus, we really know that this is not the case.”
The protest continued in the skies. UltraViolet, a women’s advocacy group, hired a plane to fly overhead with a banner that read “Protect Survivors. Not Rapists. #PerskyMustGo,” referencing the Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky who sentenced Turner.
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