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Harassment

Harassment

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Part of Stanford’s vision includes “integrating an understanding of attitudes, values, behaviors, cultures, histories, and our capacity for cooperation. It fervently underscores the need to provide strong support for the people in our community, and to advance our mission with integrity and values.” As such, Stanford commits to supporting its many communities within the constant onslaught of hate and harm. As a step toward ensuring this support, this page of materials and suggestions has been created with the intention to help you feel resourced, empowered, and heard. While this is not an exhaustive list, we will be continually updating it with vetted resources to aid in navigating harmful experiences.

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Parents' Weekend 2011. For Stanford students it was business as usual, if a bit more crowded, on a campus co-populated with parents. Students and bikes along Lasuen Mall. Credit: Linda A. Cicero / Stanford News Service
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I’ve been harassed

In-Person Harassment

We hope that you will not need this section, but if you do- or if you have already experienced in-person harassment- here are some things to consider: 

  1. Safety. Your safety takes complete priority in order to ensure you leave the situation physically unharmed. Call 911 immediately if you are worried about your safety, both on and off-campus. 
  2. It is not your responsibility to respond to, rebut, or educate your harasser, especially if you do not feel safe to do so. If you would like to engage, and you feel safe to do so, consider “calling in” strategies versus “calling out”
  3. Be compassionate and kind to yourself even if you wish you had acted differently. Remember, we do what we have to to stay safe above all else. 
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If you would like to report the incident, see the section below on how to report

Online Harassment

Not all harassment is in person. Many community members are experiencing racism and prejudice online as a result of COVID-19. Should this occur, here are some points of reflection in the moment:

  1. Remember that you are online. Online, people are much more likely to engage in inappropriate behaviors. They also may be anonymous or private, thus feeling more compelled to express viewpoints while avoiding the normal empathy, compassion, or cues in an in person interaction. 
  2. Assess your capacity. While finding common ground can be productive in moving debates forward, it may take a lot of emotional and mental labor on your behalf. Assess if you’re able and willing to do so.
  3. Don’t Feed the Trolls. Do not answer or respond to questions or situations that make you uncomfortable or engage in a “flame war” confrontation. Most bullies are eager to provoke emotional reactions.
  4. Remember your options. There are lots of ways to respond. Even if you are in an online space you cannot leave such as a Zoom class session, you can report the user or abuse (see below in reporting online harassment), mute or remove the abuser, or place them in a waiting room if you are the host. On other platforms, you can  report abuse. You can also delete comments, unfollow, and block whomever you want. You can also leave a chat, a comments section, app, or online platforms all together to take a break and take care of yourself. 
  5. Take care of yourself: Just like in person harassment, it's important to be kind to yourself no matter what action you choose to take. 

There is no one or correct way to respond to harassment. Here is a great resource page that gives examples and multiple suggestions in responding to a harasser in person and online. 

Psychological Aftermath

After the event itself, you may have a lot of lingering physical and emotional feelings ranging from nausea, pain, and numbness, to fear, shame, and anger. No matter what you’re feeling, it’s valid: you’ve just been threatened and your body is in response mode. Do what you can to feel safe and seek comfort to bring your body’s response system down, whether it’s doing some deep breathing, looking at pictures of your pet, or connecting to other news stories to remind you you’re not alone in this. Here is a brief list of self-care tips on surviving and resisting hate. 

No matter what you decide to do for yourself, seek connection with others. What happened was not your fault, you are not the only one this has happened to, and other people are there to hear about your experience. Whether it's a friend, family member, or mental health clinician, connect with someone so you don’t have to carry this experience alone. 

Here is how to get help now:

  • Call Stanford’s Counseling & Psychological Services at 650.723.3785 to gain support in a crisis, have a one-time consult, and/or a discussion on how to find a mental health professional who takes your insurance. If you’rein California, you can also discuss the option of engaging in short-term teletherapy. 
  • Call The Bridge Peer Counseling for 24/7 peer support on the phone.
  • Contact the Sexual Harassment/Assault Response & Education (SHARE): Education Team to talk with staff members who are professionally trained in matters related to sexual violence, stalking, sexual harassment, gender-based discrimination, positive sexuality and healthy relationships.
  • The Confidential Support Team is a team of professional counselors and other mental health professionals who provide entirely confidential support for gender-based discrimination and violence. They provide 24/7 assistance on the phone at 650.725.9955. 
  • National Organization for Victim Assistance (NOVA): The national victim assistance organization that provides resources, assistance and support for victims harmed by crime and crisis. Call 1.800.TRY.NOVA (879.6682).
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a free, confidential, 24/7 support for people in distress, as well as provides crisis resources and best practices for professionals. Call 1.800.273.TALK (8255).
  • Stanford’s Community Centers: “The Community Centers at Stanford are part of a tapestry that speaks into the conscience of the institution. Each Center’s work has been, and continues to be, integral to the advancement of equity at Stanford, the deepening of intellectual engagement, and the cultivation of well-being for Stanford students.”
Architectural details. Credit:  Andrew Brodhead / newslibrary@stanford.edu

Take care of yourself.

It can be really hard to hear that those we care about are suffering, even sometimes more than our own experiences of pain. Make sure to connect with your supporters, focus on things that give you comfort and peace, and give yourself your own space to process what was shared with you.

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I’ve witnessed harassment

Harassment towards Strangers

A lot of the time, it’s helpful to focus on whoever was targeted instead of on focusing on the harasser. Your next steps may differ depending on your relationship with the person being harassed. If applicable, check in with the person who is being targeted to see what they need and if you can help get them connected to support. You can also report abuse you see online, even if it is not directed at you (see reporting points below). 

While passionate and emotional conversations are common in person and online, you may see others get harassed, either through microaggressions or more explicit hate. It can be hard to know what to do in such upsetting situations. However, with a little preparation, we can be upstanders instead of passive bystanders. This guide provides four easy-to-remember steps in how to be an upstander using Anti-Asian hate during COVID-19 as an example if you think the harasser would be up for a conversation:

  1. Interrupt the conversation or interaction to call attention to what was just said. Take a pause to show it's important to address, if safe for you to do so (e.g. “Hang on, I want to go back to what you called the virus”). Read the situation to see if the person being targeted or someone of that community wants to take the conversation from this point.
  2. Question the other person to better understand why something was just said. (e.g. “Why did you call it the ‘Chinese virus’?”)
  3. Educate the other person not just by providing facts, but explaining what was said needs some reflection. Perhaps providing context or sharing resources as to why we don’t name a disease after its place of origin, the long history of stereotyping immigrants, or how AAPI folks are facing increasing harassment and hate
  4. Echo when others speak up too. Thank them, amplify their message, encourage continued breaks in complicit prejudice. Share anti-racist posts and messaging online. Show appreciation for others in digital spaces through comments sections, posts, and chats, and expressing gratitude and acknowledging their work in person. 

Harassment towards Loved Ones

What if a family member, friend, or loved one has been harassed? If someone discloses such an experience or you witness it occurring, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. Everyone experiences things differently and that’s okay. You may react with anger while others may react with calmness or humor. Try not to judge how others respond (or don’t respond).
  2. Just be there. When we see someone in distress, or we’re in distress, we may jump to action because we want to fix it. While there is definitely a time for problem-solving, a lot of the time people just want to be heard and supported. Let the person know you are there if they want to talk about it. Empathize and sympathize. 
  3. Offer support. Maybe the person wants to report the incident, but doesn’t know how. Maybe the person wants to talk to a counselor, but is ashamed. Maybe the person doesn’t want to do anything. Offer to help in whatever ways you can, following their lead. Check in later so they know you haven’t forgotten about them.
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What is a hate crime?

Acts of Intolerance include several different categories, such as harassment, hate crimes, and hate violence. What’s most important is that you report an incident, even if you are not sure what to call it. The next section discusses how to report incidents of intolerance and hate. 

If you are interested in some definitions, here is how Stanford conceptualizes hate crimes: 

A hate crime is any conduct that would be a crime under California or federal laws and which is committed whole or in part because of one or more of the following characteristics (or perceived characteristics) of the target or targets- disability, gender, nationality, race/ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or association with a person or group with one or more of these perceived or actual characteristics. Hate crimes can include: physical assault, vandalism, threats of harm, criminal harassment, including threatening or repeated telephone calls or electronic communications. It is a violation of both California law and Stanford's Fundamental Standard to commit a hate crime.

Campus Security Authorities are required by federal and state law to report hate crimes to the university's Clery Compliance Coordinator for inclusion in the Annual Safety and Security Report. Hate crimes must be reported to local law enforcement immediately or as soon as practically possible (per 67383 Ca Ed). Here is a flow chart to help navigate reporting a hate crime. There are some exceptions to reporting to law enforcement. Here's a link to read the law yourself.

Again, it’s most important to report the incident, even if you are unsure whether it’s harassment, a hate crime, or another type of act of intolerance.

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I want to report harassment or a hate crime

The decision about whether to file a formal report about a bias or hate incident is your individual choice. If you would like to report an in-person incident, here is Stanford’s suggested protocol:

Step 1. Reporting to Police

A. Reporting during an ongoing incident

If there is an immediate threat to personal safety or property, or if someone has been physically injured, the target, witness, residential staff member, or third party should call the police immediately. Call 9-911 from a campus phone, or 911 from a cell phone or off-campus phone. Tell the dispatcher what is happening and remain on the line with the dispatcher.

B. Reporting after an incident has occurred 

(All reporting should be made through the Protected Identity Harm Reporting website. Click on the “Report an incident” red button lower down on the front page)

If there has been a hate crime committed (or reason to believe that one has been committed), the police can be called by the reporting party and will be contacted by the Associate Vice Provost and Dean of Students.

If there is reason to believe that an incident of protected identity harm has been committed but there is uncertainty about the nature of the act, the police may be contacted for consultation and to assess the situation.

On the University campus, if the incident of protected identity harm involves property damage such as graffiti on a building, the Stanford Police should be notified as soon as possible so thatthe police can preserve and/or document the evidence.

Step 2. Preservation of physical evidence

Before proceeding to Step 3, do not tamper with, touch, remove, or destroy physical evidence.

If the police have been called or if it is believed that a crime has been committed and the police will be called to conduct an investigation, the police will collect and process the evidence. After the police have documented the evidence, the police or one of the persons listed in Step 3 will notify University Facilities or the University Housing office to have the material removed.

If the police are not going to be called, the offending material should be removed or covered ONLY after consultation with one of the persons listed in Step 3.

Step 3. Reporting to University Personnel

Depending on where the act of intolerance occurs, the Associate Dean of Students will report the incident as soon as possible to the appropriate staff person as follows:

  • In an Undergraduate Residence Hall report the incident to a staff person on the residential staff: Resident Fellow (RF),  Residence Dean (RD), or Resident Assistant (RA).
  • In a Graduate Residence Report the incident to the Associate Dean of Graduate Life.
  • At an Overseas Campus, Stanford In Washington or the Hopkins Marine Station Report the incident to the Residence Dean, house staff, or the program director responsible for that site.
  • In any setting other than those listed above Report the incident to the Associate Vice Provost and Dean of Students.

Optional Legal Reporting Step:

Follow up with an FBI report by submitting a tip online or to your local FBI field office (Stanford’s FBI field office is through the San Francisco office with satellite office in Palo Alto).

Some additional Stanford reporting notes:

If you would like to report an online incident, here are some options depending on the platform:

  • YouTube: You can flag the video or file for an abuse report about users/comments. YouTube will review the video to determine whether it violates its Terms of Use. More information is available in YouTube’s Community Guidelines
  • Facebook: Click the “report” tab alongside the content or reporting abuse through the Security Help Center. A Facebook administrator will investigate if the content or user violates Community Standards.
  • Twitter: You can report an abusive user through Twitter’s Help Center
  • Instagram: By accessing Instagram’s Help Center, you can report a profile or post through options on the app and on the web. 
  • Zoom: You can report an abusive participant either in a Zoom call or via email, instructions can be found here at their Help Center
  • TikTok: You can directly select “Report” on a TikTok video or fill out an online form

Reporting to organizations and databases that keep track of incidents may help gather data, raise awareness, and procure resources. Here are some such organizations that are tracking harassment:

While there remains much to be done in combating interpersonal and systemic harassment, our communities have faced prejudice before and will continue to persevere through hardship and struggle. Together as a Stanford community, we will continue to stand in the face of hatred, bettering our campus and community for all.