This letter is in response to last week’s Weekly article, Oxy Sexual Assault Coalition’s (OSAC) Facebook post dated Oct. 28 and the Huffington Post article dated Oct. 29, all regarding the Pepper-Hamilton report. I make no claims about occurrences of sexual assault or responses to them.
Recognizing my privileges as a white male in relation to this particular injustice, my goal is to create the most supportive environment for those most affected by a culture of sexual assault at Occidental.
OSAC’s mission is ultimately good, but their rhetoric sabotages its success. Their Facebook post begins: “A dictator paid a million dollars for his people to say nice things about him while Oxy survivors continue to suffer in silence.” This is not the first occasion OSAC has disparaged the administration. It is increasingly difficult to believe OSAC is willing to privately cooperate with administrators when they publicly vilify the very same people. It is doubtful that effective communication between OSAC and the administration exists, which makes cooperative reform an improbable outcome.
OSAC has the right to operate through external legal pressure and without the college’s support, but by doing so they cannot claim innocence if collaborative outreach fails. The Weekly and Huffington Post articles question whether OSAC has polarized the campus on issues of sexual assault. I can attest to this polarization.
Until now, I have been to afraid to openly critique OSAC’s methods. My private attempts to do so resulted in the invalidation of my opinion and the discouragement of my participation in any further discourse. Even worse, any criticism of OSAC has become synonymous with the condemnation of survivors themselves. This is both unfair and untrue. Rather, I feel there is no platform for students to advocate justice for survivors without OSAC’s heavy-handed facilitation or the administration’s desperate attempts to save face.
I am not alone in this thought; conversations with my peers have come to the same conclusion. The student body is wedged between an out-of-touch administration and a coalition that appears more interested in gutting AGC than working with them toward a common goal. Through careful and respectful dialogue between advocates, the students and the administration, this can change.
OSAC does not have a monopoly on students’ voices. Reform is possible without reducing the trauma of our peers to a “good vs evil” media campaign. Justice does not have to come at the price of polarization. For these reasons, I do not support OSAC.
(Senior, Art History and Visual Arts and Group Languages)