The history of media coverage of sexual assault is steeped in racism. Members of the UO-CESV recognize the history of white supremacist uses of rape and are very concerned about how media attention to this case may be framing our protests and concerns in a way that plays into longstanding racist narratives. It is important to note that this case does not reflect the typical demographics of race and sexual assault and we need to be scrupulous in bringing all perpetrators to justice, regardless of their race, class, or sexual identity.
We are also very conscious of the fact that women of color have been raped with impunity by men of all races. The intersections of racism, sexism, and economic disadvantage have been used to silence their testimonies and deny them justice. Contemporary research illustrates the continued vulnerability of women of color as well as LGBTQ community members to sexual violence, and we need to be mindful of how power imbalances at all levels affect vulnerabilities to sexual violence.
The issue the UO Coalition has been focusing on for many months does not rest on a single sensational case, but rather on how this institution can stop betraying the entire UO community by its actions and inactions. In the days to come, we hope everyone will come together to demand that the UO demonstrate institutional courage and accountability in addressing issues of sexual violence that have long plagued our community. We encourage our community to focus on the big picture – the UO has a longstanding history of engaging in and facilitating oppressive acts at the expense of marginalized groups such as people of color, women, and the LGBTQ community. While the current events are a part of this broader picture, they do not capture or represent the overall problem. We must demand better from our administrators so that all students have the freedom to pursue an education free of violence, discrimination, and hate.