We Demand Survivor-Centered Reforms at Oregon State University

Oregon State University Board of Trustees

In contrast to how OSU has dealt with recent revelations, we’d like to start this message by acknowledging survivors of sexual assault, harassment, and discrimination. You are loved, you are valid, and you are not alone: we stand in solidarity with you as we fight together for workplace and campus protections. The university may choose not to hear your testimony, answer your questions, or understand the impact that recent events have had on your health, safety, and well-being, but your voices matter to us, and we are determined to center survivors’ experiences in our demands for change.

Our demands provide a series of reasonable actions to better serve survivors and create safer learning environments, such as funding for Survivor Advocacy Resource Center at OSU, Equal Opportunity Office transparency and oversight, the funding of a Safe-walk program, and more. A three-month probation period for a single bad actor is not the answer. Deep, substantive reform that centers the experiences of survivors is the answer.

Petition by

To: Oregon State University Board of Trustees
From: [Your Name]

For years, students, staff, and faculty have been pushing the university to recognize and correct deeply rooted problems with the Equal Opportunity and Access (EOA) office. OSU’s current administration has an opportunity to recognize these shortcomings right now and take action. Focusing on individual bad actors will not be enough to accomplish the broad, sweeping, and fundamental changes needed to make our institution one which values and supports survivors.

Students and employees consistently report regressive, ineffective, and anti-survivor responses from EOA. At present, this office works to shield OSU and aggressors – not protect and advocate for survivors. For EOA or any other unit to work effectively, ongoing training, guidelines, and transparent reporting are required. We can never be an antiracist or a truly equitable institution if we do not critically examine and continually improve policies at the office of Equal Opportunity and Access and across OSU.

Based on the experiences of students, staff, and faculty, we demand the following reforms from Oregon State University:

(1) Fully meet the staffing and funding requests for OSU’s Survivor Advocacy and Resource Center (SARC). SARC currently has 1 full-time advocate to serve all students, faculty, and staff associated with OSU and its eCampus and satellite campuses. It is inadequate. SARC demands that the OSU Foundation liaison fundraise specifically for survivor support services, for a Special Commissioner to the Board and President regularly report on trends and support services regarding gender based violence, five (5) additional positions be funded and staffed (two additional confidential advocates, one Sexual Violence Prevention Education Coordinator, one office Intake Specialist to serve as a first point of contact, one Program Liaison to work specifically with marginalized students), commitment to funding two additional advocates and one additional Prevention Education Coordinator by Fall 2023, and involvement of SARC in all discussions and decisions on these points.

(2) A full audit of the past 10 years of outcomes from all EOA Title IX cases, specifically retention rates and instances of switching of degrees or departments or labs, for people who have engaged or are engaging with EOA. Anonymized results should be made easily accessible to the public in PDF format on the OSU website on an annual basis. This audit should be conducted by a group approved by End Rape On Campus or an equivalent external organization with no ties to OSU and approved by our student government and graduate union. Further, we demand a system put in place for annual reviews of EOA outcomes and retention rates (i.e. a consistent yearly version of this demand). Again, anonymized results should be made easily accessible to the public in PDF format on the OSU website on an annual basis.

(3) Support and financial resourcing to form a Safewalk program in tandem with the existing ASOSU Saferide program to bolster availability of preventative services on campus. OSU donor funds and fundraising are encouraged towards support for added programming for the already existing ASOSU Saferide program. The additional funds will be used to build out a Safewalk program, OSU With You, which was enacted by ASOSU legislature in 2018. The program must exclude the Involvement of the Department of Public Safety and the OSU Police force to ensure the service is judgement-free to prevent avoidance in fear of discrimination or legal reprecussions. SARC and ASOSU Saferide should be consulted.

(4) A mechanism for immediate feedback, with oversight by the Board of Trustees and our student government and/or union. Carefully curated survey forms should be sent out to anyone who engages with EOA, much like the process implemented with Student Health Services.

(5) A transparent pipeline for reporting noncompliance to EOA policies. OSU must transparently select and fund an external auditing oversight group that operates independently from the institution. We cannot allow OSU to be its own watchdog.

(6) Mandatory training for OSU leadership in institutional betrayal theory and specifically Institutional DARVO (Deny, Attack, and Reverse Victim and Offender). Leadership to be trained includes deans, department chairs, directors, managers, VPs, and provosts. Experts Dr Jennifer Freyd (University of Oregon) and/or Dr Kathy Becker-Blease (Oregon State University) should be consulted.

(7) That all EOA staff be specifically and continually trained in Institutional Betrayal Trauma and Intersectionality theory. An anti-oppression framework ensures that antiracism is built into the system, not an afterthought. EOA staff must understand how intersecting forces of oppression keep unjust practices in place at institutions Experts Dr Jennifer Freyd (University of Oregon) or Dr Kathy Becker-Blease (Oregon State University) should be consulted.

(8) The Community Wellness, Education, and Safety Network must be supported and significantly financially resourced so that those in immediate crisis for issues of harassment or sexual violence are treated compassionately by trained mental health and trauma-informed responders, specifically with a lens of Betrayal Trauma theory. SARC, HSRC, and CAPS should be consulted.

CGE and other campus community organizations have been advocating for changes in university policy related to harassment and discrimination for years. Our demands provide a series of reasonable actions to better serve survivors and create safer learning environments. Experiencing harassment, discrimination, and/or assault is a trauma that leaves lasting emotional, social, and professional scars. We deserve to have our experiences taken seriously, addressed promptly, and resolved through transparent processes. OSU has a legal and moral responsibility to protect students and employees from abuse. A three-month probation period for a single bad actor is not the answer. Deep, substantive reform that centers the experiences of survivors is the answer.

Coalition of Graduate Employees (CGE), Executive Council
Associated Students of OSU (ASOSU), President & Vice President
Brenda Tracy, Survivor and Founder of SetTheExpectation
SEIU Local 503 Sublocal 083, Leadership
United Academics at OSU (UAOSU), Executive Council and Representative Assembly
We Can Do The Work and Disarm OSU
Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies at OSU, Leadership