An Open Letter re: UO Sexual Assault & Call To Action

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*** Please join UO-CESV to raise our voices against this most recent instance of sexual violence at noon on Thursday, May 8, 2014, on the lawn behind Hendricks Hall.

 

The UO Coalition to End Sexual Violence expresses its deepest sympathy to the survivor whose reports of sexual assault have recently surfaced. We are devastated by this most recent report of rape on our campus. We grieve for this young woman and her family, as we have grieved for so many women who have been victims not only of sexual violence, but of institutional processes that privilege the rights of alleged perpetrators over the rights of those who have been victimized. We apologize to her and her family for the acts of violence that have occurred during her education, an experience that should be safe and equitable.

We are beyond frustrated that the University of Oregon has failed to prevent acts of violence like this from occurring on our campus. For several years, faculty, staff, and graduate students have expressed their concerns about campus sexual assault policies. As individuals and as members of groups, we have written emails, sat in meetings, and met with survivors of rape and harassment. This past winter, and in light of proliferating evidence of the University of Oregon’s institutional betrayal of survivors, we organized ourselves as the University of Oregon Coalition to End Sexual Violence (UO-CESV) in order to mobilize to address the rape supportive subcultures that exist on college campuses around the country and to create a sense of urgency around addressing sexual violence on our campus.

But we have not been able to move quickly enough. While the UO claims to foster a safe and equitable educational experience and to respond with the utmost seriousness to sexual violence, cases like this most recent one illustrate the dysfunction within our campus community, the ineffectiveness of our local law enforcement, and the apparent lack of institutional control over our athletics department.

For too long, we have been falsely assured that the university responds swiftly and effectively to survivors. For too long, we have been told that the university “has established internal conduct processes for handling misconduct allegation.” When we raised issues about serial perpetrators, we were told that the university had no evidence about these. When we talked about institutional betrayal, we were repeatedly told by UO administrators that the people they meet with have uniformly positive experiences of the process. We are angry and bitter that this institution has betrayed our trust. When our institution is more interested in winning ball games than protecting students, that is institutional betrayal. This type of betrayal harms us all.

It’s time to hold UO accountable. UO-CESV is calling for an investigation of the process whereby a basketball player who had been suspended along with another student for “not upholding their responsibilities as student-athletes” was welcomed into the UO community. We want a public meeting to discuss the Student Code of Conduct and the way in which UO itself is handling this investigation.

 

7 thoughts on “An Open Letter re: UO Sexual Assault & Call To Action

  1. Professor John Bonine, School of Law

    Is “institutional rape” too strong a word for a climate in which rapes and other sexual assaults are treated as a problem rather a serious disease in a university?

    Can I recommend that young women enroll here? If so, what should I tell them?

    John Bonine

  2. R.H. Smith

    You really don’t think that UO will do anything when a Duck football or basketball player is involved, do you? Shame on YOU, IF you do! There is a very permissive culture around UO when it comes to these “chosen” prima donnas…just look at past history. Hopefully things will change, but don’t bet on it. Sad, sad…

  3. Anonymous

    When you say “We are beyond frustrated that the University of Oregon has failed to prevent acts of violence like this from occurring on our campus” I’m curious as to what actions you think the University could have taken to prevent this?

    • How about not admitting an athlete who wanted to transfer to UO and play because he was under investigation for rape at his first school? That seems like a pretty easy preventative step, don’t you think?

      • Anonymous

        Wow, I did not know that. Yes, that should have thrown up some red flags for someone.

    • anonymous

      Maybe the University can educate all of its students what rape is and that ” consent is a yes that is freely given when the option of no is present and viable”. -SWAT

  4. Rather Not

    Has anyone asked why we don’t have a campus crime alert from March 9 advising us that a student had reported a rape and that she was alleging the perpetrators were other students who, you know, are likely to 1. continue to be on campus and 2. maybe feel like this is something they could do again? Because I have other alerts from before and since regarding other sexual assaults, and none of them were regarding convictions, just allegations, so it seems to me if the purpose of these alerts is to notify us all of situations we may need to know about for safety reasons, then I should have one for this.

    Also, look, in pretty much every other context ever, “administrative actions” are taken while an investigation is ongoing (for example, in an officer-involved shooting, the officer is put on leave even if it looks real damn clear that the officer will not face charges), and it looks very, very bad to suggest that in THIS case, ever so coincidentally while the accused were representing the school at a moneymaking event, the university was apparently advised not to take any such actions on the basis it would muddy an investigation.

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