Alumni petition delivered to Veitch, calls for change from administration

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Elizabeth Amini ’95 delivered an alumni petition demanding personnel changes in the administration, among numerous other points, to President Jonathan Veitch’s office Thursday. The petition, created by members of the Occidental College Alumni Action Network (OCAAN), does not include the names of individual signatories, but organizers said hundreds of alumni have rallied behind the cause. In the event Veitch fails to meet the demands within seven days, the petition calls for his resignation.

“Hopefully he will have the decency to implement the safety demands or to leave, and hopefully the [board of trustees] will have the decency to do the right thing. The safety problems need to be fixed this week. Safety can’t wait” Amini said.

Although Amini dropped the petition off herself, she was careful to emphasize the faceless and leaderless nature of movement so as not to overshadow the number of other alumni involved. She explained that she dropped the petition off because she is close to the school, not because she is the movement’s leader.

President of the Faculty Council Nalsey Tinberg, Chair of the Politics Department Caroline Heldman and a handful of students also came to show their support for the movement.

“We join with the alumni to show our support for the alumni and the call for systematic change at the college,” Tinberg said. “I am grateful for their involvement, and their request should be taken seriously.”

Psychology major Hannah Kessel (junior), who co-wrote last year’s petition calling for timely alerts on all sexual assaults, attended the event to show her distaste for Veitch’s handling of the issue of sexual assault on campus.

“I have had the unfortunate opportunity to hear [Veitch’s] conceptualization of consent and how rape happens here, and it is very troubling to me,” Kessel said.

Politics major Hannah Baillie (senior) also attended to express her support.

“I agree with what they are doing, and I think a lot of students do, too,” Baillie said. “I wanted to show them that.”

Before dropping off the petition, Amini posted signs outside of the Arthur G. Coons Administrative Building to alert students of alumni involvement and impending action. One sign read, “The problems at Oxy END NOW.” Amini cited the schools “toxic indifference” to the issue of sexual assault as the reason alumni stepped in.

Veitch defended the college’s stance on sexual assault and the actions taken to address the issue.

“It’s impossible to look at the progress we have made – from the revision of our sexual misconduct policy and the hiring of full-time Title IX coordinator, Ruth Jones, to the investments we have made in Project SAFE and mandatory preventative education – and say the college is indifferent to the issue of sexual misconduct,” Veitch said in an email to The Weekly. “Our goal is to create an environment where students reject sexual misconduct and feel comfortable coming forward to report and receive the care and support they need. As I have said many times before, the college is committed to the safety and well-being of all of our students. The only way forward is to keep our focus on what’s best for them.”

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1 COMMENT

  1. What was said was “instances of toxic indifference”. There’s no question that Oxy’s administration has taken some steps but the real question is simply: is Oxy substantially safer now?

    Specifically:

    1. Is the campus free of the students who have been found guilty of rape or sexual assault? Or are they living on campus or returning back to school? You can’t claim safety while allowing perpetrators to return. The chances of them raping another student is too high. Letting someone like that back onto campus this shows a toxic indifference to the safety of the students and is especially cruel for the person who was raped and his/her friends.

    2. Why do you use the phrase “Sexual Misconduct” for your policy? Sexual misconduct is when someone flashes you. Call rape and sexual assault what they are: sex crimes. Referring to something so serious in such a casual manner sends a negative signal. The policy needs to be renamed “Sex crimes and Sexual Misconduct Policy”.

    3. Why was a book report given as punishment for rape and/or sexual assault? In what way can you be sexually assaulted where a book report is an appropriate punishment?

    4. What happened to the person/people whose judgment was so terrible that they thought assigning a book report would be appropriate? Have they been fired? They should have been fired immediately – at the very latest right after the first newspaper coverage. Most importantly, have the inappropriately light sanctions been reviewed and changed for those cases?

    5. What percentage of those who are found guilty of rape or sexual assault are expelled?

    6. Why does the health center not have rape kits or a SANE nurse? SANE training only takes 40 hours. Certainly student safety is worth 40 hours. The college should provide rape kits and help the police so that rapists can not only be expelled but also convicted and imprisoned.

    7. What was the official reaction to OSAC’s Grade Report outlining the current urgent safety problems that the campus is facing?

    8. Why are the Trustee Board meetings such a secret? It’s been hard to simply find the meeting date. While it’s understandable that portions of the meeting are confidential, there should be an open forum portion where students, faculty, alumni, and staff can have their concerns heard directly by the Board.

    9. What was the administration’s official reaction to the two votes of no confidence and faculty petition?

    10. What has happened to the administrators who discouraged survivors and intimidated their supporters? Are they still employed by the college? They should have been fired a long time ago.

    That’s what we call toxic indifference and it ends now. These problems will be completely addressed this month. No more promises, no more vagueness, no more talk without direct and immediate action. The administration had plenty of time to solve these issues on their own. If the Alumni are stepping in it’s because we consider the lack of proper safety to be an emergency.

    We’re meeting with Oxy’s President this Friday. We’re not here to ask easy questions or to brush things under the rug. We’re here to solve these problems together by the end of the month. We expect full cooperation from the administration and the Trustees during this time. Safety cannot wait.

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