The edited footage presented here shows only the incident between Selleck and the camera crew. The video is part of unused footage from The Hunting Ground Documentary, filmed on Occidental’s campus April 27, 2014.
Update: Director of Communications Jim Tranquada issued a response to the video May 8.
The Occidental obtained video footage May 4 of Board of Trustee member Cathie Young Selleck ‘55 shoving her hand into a camera operated by an alumna* — a member of The Hunting Ground film crew — at a vigil for sexual assault survivors outside Booth Hall April 27, 2014. Occidental announced Selleck as one of four speakers and honorary degree recipients for the 2018 commencement ceremony on women and leadership March 16. Following the announcement, Micaela Stevens (senior) sent an email and handed out flyers March 19 calling for the removal of Selleck from the ceremony. In her email, Stevens wrote that Selleck argued against survivors and physically assaulted the alumna in 2014. Her email included a petition calling for Selleck’s removal, with 482 signatures as of May 5. Professor of politics Caroline Heldman, alumni, current students and President Jonathan Veitch debated Selleck’s inclusion as a commencement speaker in three separate letters to the editor April 4. Given differing accounts of the incident, The Occidental is publishing the footage in full for readers to come to their own conclusions.
The full footage presented here shows the incident between Selleck and the camera crew as well as the confrontation between politics professor Caroline Heldman and Trustee Steven Hinchliffe ’55. The video is part of unused footage from The Hunting Ground Documentary, filmed at Occidental’s campus April 27, 2014. In the video — part of unused footage from The Hunting Ground — Selleck repeatedly says “this is not working” and pushes the camera after leaving a confrontation between Board of Trustee member Steven Hinchliffe ‘55 and Heldman. Immediately after pushing the camera, voices can be heard saying, “wow,” “you can’t touch that,” “I can call the police on you right now” and “keep shooting that.” Selleck walks a short distance before stopping for an interview with Juliet Suess ‘14, former editor-in-chief of The Occidental. Suess reported on the vigil in 2014 and wrote that Selleck pushed the camera into the alumna’s face.
According to Selleck — who issued a statement via Jim Tranquada, director of communications, before the video became public — she was walking back to her car outside of Booth Hall.
“I was startled by a bright light and a large camera held by three people who suddenly appeared in my path and were running directly at me,” Selleck said via email. “I was frightened and reacted instinctively by raising my hand to protect my face. The person holding the camera did not slow down or stop, and my hand therefore came into contact with the camera. It was an unfortunate incident, and I’m sure, unintentional on both our parts.”
The footage does not show the camera crew running towards Selleck.
According to Heldman — who was an eyewitness in 2014 and reviewed the video footage — the evidence contradicts the administration’s previous statements.
“This video proves that Cathy Young Selleck didn’t trip and accidentally shove a video camera into the face of an Oxy alum, as the administration has claimed on multiple occasions,” Heldman said via email.
Heldman said that the video brought back memories of the vigil, which was peaceful until Hinchliffe confronted a student and Selleck pushed the camera operator.
“I remain shocked at how trustees treated students and alums, and watching this video brings me right back to that awful night,” Heldman said via email. “Many who were at the silent protest felt all alone when the campus did nothing in response to this incident. Giving a trustee a leadership award who acted so poorly toward students and alums is baffling.”
During the Spring 2014 board of trustees dinner in Booth Hall — meant to celebrate the completion of the McKinnon Center, according to Heldman — Oxy Sexual Assault Coalition (OSAC) members held a silent vigil outside. Former OSAC member Ray Buckner ‘15 said they and other OSAC members were handing out flyers and trying to engage with trustee members as they exited the building. Buckner said that Hinchliffe approached them and began to ask questions. According to Heldman, she heard Hinchliffe’s raised voice and sprinted approximately 20 feet to make sure the students were protected. The footage does not show this initial interaction.
Heldman said Hinchliffe raised his voice at her and the students for 15–20 minutes. This interaction is captured in the footage, which runs for 31 minutes and 41 seconds. According to Heldman, Selleck did not walk out with Hinchliffe, but came out shortly after and left much earlier. Buckner said that Selleck witnessed the verbal altercation between Buckner and Hinchliffe and did not attempt to intervene.
According to Heldman, the alumna was filming with a bright light on the camera. As Selleck walked down the path to exit the dinner, Heldman watched Selleck shove the camera into the face of the videographer. Heldman said that she observed how the camera went into the filmer’s face and upper body. Buckner described the same instance and said that Selleck actively turned around and shoved her hand into the camera. Andy Eichar ‘16 said he saw the same interaction, confirming Buckner’s observation. According to Buckner, when Heldman described the action as assault, Selleck denied shoving her hand into the camera.
Heldman said that it was clear that trustee members Selleck and Hinchliffe intended to confront OSAC members. According to Heldman and Buckner, Veitch and other members of the board left through a different exit, avoiding the vigil altogether.
Heldman and Occidental alumni Buckner and Eichar co-authored a letter to the editor describing a first-hand account of the 2014 incident between OSAC and the board of trustees. Occidental seniors Gabriella Anson, Juliette Blackmun, Kelly Chang, Samantha Farrell, Anthony Garcia, Lyn Tan, Margaret Schedl and Micaela Stevens signed a separate letter to the editor expressing their discontent with the selection of Selleck. In response, President Jonathan Veitch authored a letter to the editor defending the inclusion of Selleck at commencement.
According to Veitch in his letter to the editor, a 2014 review by then Board Chair Chris Calkins ’67 and subsequent follow-up during the past week revealed differing eyewitness accounts regarding the nature of the contact between Selleck and the videographer. According to Veitch, Calkins called the incident unfortunate but did not conclude that the contact was intentional.
According to Calkins, he did not witness the altercations as he was already past the area. Calkins said he ran the investigation in 2014 by interviewing people he could identify or were referred to him by others as participating witnesses, including faculty, staff, students and trustees.
“With respect to Ms. Selleck there were conflicting accounts, but generally those I spoke to agreed that the videographer was in the path as she was leaving, and that she raised her hand in the direction of the camera and the bright light,” Calkins said via email. “It did not appear that there was any intention to physically engage, notwithstanding that the path was partially blocked. If contact occurred it was incidental.”
According to Heldman, Calkins sent an email to her May 19, 2014 regarding the results of the investigation after she filed a formal complaint about the incident April 28, 2014. In the email, Calkins described the differing interpretations of the incident, acknowledging that some viewed the physical contact as an intentional act while others saw the action as incidental.
“This incident made it clear that Occidental administration and the board of trustees have a level of moral bankruptcy,” Heldman said. “It was a sobering realization of institutional dynamics and how Oxy was going to respond in the face of visible violence.”
Calkins said he believes the current petition mischaracterizes Selleck’s actions and beliefs.
“Ms. Selleck is one of Oxy’s longest-serving trustees, and was one of the board’s first women chairs,” Calkins said via email. “She has been a strong and forceful advocate for the steps the college has taken to address the issue of sexual assault. It’s an impressive record of service that deserves to be recognized.”
Selleck is scheduled to speak at the 2018 commencement ceremony May 20.
Update: This article was updated May 5 to include the date The Occidental obtained the video, a 1-minute edit of the video and captions for the edited and full-length clips.
Update: This article was updated May 8 to include a link to Tranquada’s response.
*Sources declined to share the name of the alumna
This article will be updated as the story develops