On the evening of April 27, 1987, three hundred Princeton University students participated in the first “Take Back the Night” march. Organized by the University’s Women’s Center, the march was intended to both raise awareness of sexual harassment and commemorate its survivors. The procession wound its way through the campus, stopping at 9 pre-designated stops, each the site of a recent sexual assault. At these sites, women came forward from the crowd and spoke about their own experiences as victims of sexual assault. The march’s final stop was beneath the archway of 1879; after the final speech, the 100 remaining students proceeded down Washington Road, and then turned on to Prospect Avenue, the site of Princeton’s Eating Clubs. As the marchers turned onto Prospect Avenue, student men flocked to the curb to greet them, shouting obscenities and threats.
Earlier that year, the issue of sexual harassment--specifically the University’s policy regarding sexual harassment--had been thrust center-stage, when the Disciplinary Committee issued a controversial ruling on an incident that had occurred between two students. A senior man had allegedly harassed a junior woman; the senior was placed on probation for a semester, while the junior was given a Dean’s Warning for “provocative behavior.”
The offensive behavior of the students on Prospect Avenue during the march, combined with this controversial ruling, spurred a campus-wide protest spearheaded by the Women’s Center. The protest compelled President Bowen to commission Provost Neil Rudenstine with the task of investigating the handling of the incident and compiling a report.
The Founding of SHARE
Before the founding of SHARE, Princeton had very few resources available to survivors of sexual assault. The University operated upon a “designated individual system.” Designated individuals were school administrators (i.e. Assistant Deans of Student Life) who offered survivors an abundance of contact information: whom to call in case they wanted to seek disciplinary action, psychological counseling, or medical assistance.
In March 1987, Rudenstein convened a special task force assembled by the Women’s Center to address the University’s sexual harassment policy and consider the hiring of new staff to oversee education in these areas. The Women’s Center supported these efforts, but some student men outwardly opposed them.
As a result of the task force, the school hired Myra Hindus. Under Hindus’s supervision, major changes were made to (1) expand sexual harassment education, for both administrators and students, including designated individuals; (2) hire counselors specially trained in aiding survivors of sexual harassment; and (3) revise the disciplinary system by which cases of sexual harassment or assault were handled. The resulting organization was called the Sexual Harassment/Assault Advising, Resources and Education (SHARE) office, which was formally established in 1988.
In January 2012, Jacqueline Deitch-Stackhouse was named director of the SHARE office, bringing to the position her extensive experience with advocacy, crisis intervention, counseling, and education on interpersonal violence and abuse. Deitch-Stackhouse ensured that the office adopted a multi-pronged approach to addressing acts of interpersonal violence (sexual harassment, sexual assault, domestic/dating violence, and stalking). Under her leadership, the SHARE office has expanded campus prevention efforts and increased advocacy for survivors.