To the Faculty of Occidental College:
OSAC thanks every faculty member who helped pass the vote of “no confidence” for Dean of Students Barbara Avery and College Counsel/Trustee Carl Botterud at the Special Faculty Meeting held on May 6th. We thank you for exercising your rights to advocate on behalf of survivors and their allies, and for standing in solidarity with those who will no longer tolerate institutional mistreatment, especially from administrators hired to protect the students they serve.
Your vote today has displayed that the Occidental College Faculty is genuinely committed to: holding this institution and its administrators accountable for actions taken against survivors; supporting survivors and allies on our campus; and building a safer community free from sexual violence.
Today’s vote has also proven to be another example of how Oxy’s faculty involvement has been a vital component in the movement’s efforts to reshape how the college addresses sexual assault and eradicate sexual violence from our community.
OSAC stands by the Oxy College Faculty and appreciates their momentous decision today. The journey for a campus culture that is equitable, just, and safe will be a long one, but we are proud that our faculty will embark on that journey with us. Thank you all for making history, helping to make Oxy a safer place, and joining us in this fight for justice.
The Oxy Sexual Assault Coalition
Oxy Faculty Vote “No Confidence” for Dean of Student Barbara Avery and College Counsel Carl Botterud
After several weeks devoted to special “Teaching Faculty Meetings” on sexual assault issues on campus and passing a Faculty Resolution, the Oxy Faculty this morning voted “no confidence” for Dean of Students Barbara Avery and College Counsel Carl Botterud in an Executive Session held today to vote on the resolutions. The meeting lasted 1.5 hours and came to a vote on both of the resolutions below. After the votes were tallied and announced, those faculty remaining cheered. This has been a long struggle to create a safe and equitable campus, but the process to repairing the damage to our campus must begin here.
As OSAC discovered in filing federal Clery and Office for Civil Rights complaints, the sexual assault problems at Oxy have been more of a “people problem” than a “policy problem.” Oxy can have the best policies and procedures in the nation, but if the administrators responsible for implementing them are unwilling or unable to uphold these policies and procedures, we are still left with a broken institution and system.
Once again, we applaud the Oxy Faculty for stepping up in supporting survivors and students across our campus and sending a message to the rest of the nation that college and university Administrations must take sexual assault issues on their campuses seriously. From an email Faculty Council President Amy Lyford:
Today, at the Special Meeting of the Occidental Faculty, the Teaching Faculty went into Executive Session.
During that executive session, the faculty voted (by paper ballot) on Two Motions .
Motion 1. A vote of no confidence in the College Counsel, Carl Botterud.
Motion 2. A vote of no confidence in the Dean of Students, Barbara Avery.
These motions were approved by majority vote as follows, and are now being forwarded to the President:
Motion 1: 70 Yes, 6 No, 4 Abstain.
Motion 2: 65 Yes, 9 No, 6 Abstain.
While these votes are not binding, we hope this large symbolic victory will be one of many more moves among faculty and staff to push the Occidental College Administration to implement real, immediate, and meaningful change around sexual assault issues on campus. It will now be up to President Jonathan Veitch to stand with the faculty, students, alumni, parents, and staff in leading Occidental College toward being a national leader on campus sexual assault issues.
President Veitch’s May 1st letter to the campus community outlined a number of steps his Administration has recently taken, as well as steps they plan to take and recommendations from two lawyers, Gina Smith and Leslie Gomez of Pepper Law, hired by the Administration to address the federal complaints filed by OSAC. This memo is a side-by-side comparison of each step/recommendation from the May 1st letter and the 87-point evaluation Matrix/12 Demands produced by the Oxy Sexual Assault Coalition (OSAC). Of the 17 actions/recommendations from the President/two attorneys, 16 were previously proposed by OSAC (with the exception of the recommendation to expand the number of Deputy Title IX Coordinators).
A number of vital components are missing from President Veitch’s letter and the attorneys’ recommendations. First, the President offers no convincing argument as to why promises will now be upheld as they have not been in the past. Secondly, specific policy changes are also loudly absent from this document (e.g., a return to zero tolerance and verbal consent), as well as a timeline for implementing these specific changes. Thirdly, as has been made abundantly clear to the President, Occidental College can have the best sexual assault policies and procedures in the nation, but if the administrators responsible for upholding them cannot or will not do so (as has been demonstrated by the Dean of Student’s direct role in violating federal law), these policies and procedures will be meaningless.
Put simply, without the proper personnel changes and recommendations, Oxy will be unable to adequately address sexual assault issues on campus in any real or meaningful way. We are in a moment of crisis and we need immediate and effective change to repair the immense damage key administrators have wreaked on our students and our campus.
The Administration has already spent approximately $60,000 on two attorneys, and countless resources putting a positive spin on the Administration’s actions, instead of simply upholding promises previously made to the campus community. While OSAC is supportive of every genuine move forward in the fight against sexual assault on our campus, many of these actions have previously been promised, and we will maintain pressure until substantial change is actually enacted.
Below is a point-by-point analysis of the recommendations put forth in President Veitch’s May 1st, 2013 letter and in the recommendations made by the two attorneys hired by the Administration.
Thank you, Oxy faculty, for your May 1st resolution to demand sexual assault policy changes that will support students and survivors. We are so grateful to have faculty support in light of so many colleges where faculty have either been indifferent or too fearful of speaking out against their administration’s mishandling of sexual assault issues.
We understand that faculty are often the first responders on college campuses in seeing firsthand the impacts that sexual assault has on students. We thank the 128* (and growing!) of the 140 or so full-time Occidental faculty members below for their unwavering support of students below.
Thank you for speaking out against injustice both in and outside the classroom.
Thank you for supporting survivors and assisting them every step of the way.
Thank you for attending our Sleepover for Sexual Assault Awareness (the late-night discussions, the delicious camping food, the hot chocolate and marshmallows, the tent building, the everything…).
Thank you for creating an Oxy that makes us all proud.
We, the undersigned Occidental College faculty, reaffirm the right of all students to live, work, and study on a safe campus where equity prevails.
We, the undersigned Occidental College faculty, recognize and commend the courageous efforts of the members of the Occidental community who are working to ensure that sexual harassment, sexual battery, sexual assault and rape have no place in our community.
We, the undersigned Occidental College faculty, agree with OSAC that there must be changes to the sexual assault policies, there must be procedural integrity in hearing board cases, there must be additional resources for sexual assault and rape survivors, and that there must be significant, on-going sexual harassment, battery, assault and rape education for all students.
We, the undersigned Occidental College faculty, vow to work constructively and tirelessly to transform the policies and underlying culture of Occidental College toward the elimination of sexual harassment, sexual battery, sexual assault and rape.
Allison de Fren
Heng Lam Foong
Mary Beth Heffernan
G. Simeon Pillich
Clarence L. Terry, Sr.
Horacio R. Trujillo
For all of the Oxy parents, alumni, and friends who have wondered what they can do to help make Oxy a safer campus, we are pleased to announce the formation of the Oxy Community Against Sexual Assault (OCASA). You can like their Facebook page by clicking the image below or visiting the link here.
Thank you to all of the amazing and supportive people who have supported survivors across our campus.
“My rapists admitted to ‘gang raping’ me to all their friends, and were proud of it. Even though this was horrible to hear, I was still glad I didn’t report my rape to Oxy. The reporting process most likely would have been just as damaging as the rape itself. It is sad to me that even when my assailants admitted to rape, I was still afraid to report to the school for fear of not being believed.” – Anonymous Survivor Story
“Because his sanction was overturned on appeal, once I graduate, I can never come back to Oxy. I can’t visit friends who still go here, I can’t go to alumni events, I can’t even show people around where I went to school because there will always be a chance that he is here. He is allowed to be here. I was raped during the first week of my first year at Oxy. I was robbed of anything resembling a normal college experience. Yet four years later, after reporting in the hopes that I could feel safe on campus again, I’m still the one who doesn’t get to feel safe or valued at the college I go to.” – Anonymous Survivor Story
“I would love to someday feel proud when people ask me where I went to college, instead of ashamed. I would love to feel welcome on campus. I would love to be able to encourage students to attend Occidental. But how could I ever in good conscience recommend that anyone enroll there?” – Anonymous Survivor Story
OMAR + OSAC Present: Sleepover for Sexual Assault Awareness!