Letter to the Editor: OSAC updates mission statement

Letter to the editor

Dear members of the Occidental community, 

We are Oxy Sexual Assault Coalition (OSAC). We are a student and faculty-led coalition here to raise awareness of the sexual assault epidemic on college campuses and to advocate for best policies and practices that provide for a safe and equitable student experience at Occidental College. Since OSAC’s re-establishment in 2017, survivors have continued to inform us of the pervasiveness of sexual assault and rape on the Occidental College campus. 

We acknowledge that there might be negative sentiment and a lack of understanding toward OSAC given our private nature as an organization on campus. We would like to affirm that our priority first and foremost is to support students and survivors. Below, we have outlined goals that we believe are essential to fostering a safe and hospitable environment on campus for all students. The nature of our work requires us to maintain privacy as well as agency. For this reason, we are not a registered club. That being said, this year we hope to engage more with the student body as that is an important aspect of our mission.

While they are similarly working to end sexual violence on campus, Project S.A.F.E. (Sexual Assault-Free Environment) has a different role and resources. They provide culturally competent and inclusive prevention education programs for all student groups on campus. In addition, they provide advocacy, resources and support services for survivors of sexual and relationship violence, including sexual assault, intimate partner violence, stalking and sexual harassment.

OSAC originally operated at Occidental College from 2007–2013. Then, they shined a light on the ways in which the college was failing students in terms of not providing adequate preventative education, not accurately reporting numbers of sexual violence, meting out excessively lenient punishments (such as a five-page paper for the crime of rape) and silencing and retaliating against survivors. OSAC was largely involved with the 250-page Title IX complaint against the college to the Department of Education Office for Civil Rights and a Clery complaint on behalf of around 50 members of the Occidental community. Even faculty overwhelmingly voted resolutions of no confidence against Barbara Avery, former Vice President of Student Affairs, and Carl Botterud, former campus legal counsel. 

Since then, there have been changes on campus for which we are grateful: 1) the implementation of a full-time Title IX Coordinator, though, as of Aug.16 it remains unfilled, 2) the hiring of a survivor advocate, 3) the removal of Dean Barbara Avery, 4) the expansion of Project S.A.F.E. from two student PAs to four and 5) the implementation of Greek Council Sexual Assault Bylaws.

Currently, we have identified seven key issues that we will be working with relevant administrators and other campus constituents to accomplish. The seven goals on our 2019–2020 agenda are:

  1. Seek to reform Occidental College Title IX policy re: sexual assault given new state and federal regulations.
  2. Seek to ban underground Greek organizations and enforce existing Greek Council Sexual Assault Bylaws for a registered organization.
  3. Seek to amend Greek Council’s regulations regarding sexual harassment/battery/assault prevention in all Greek organizations.
  4. Seek to educate the student body on the sexual assault epidemic and ensure that students are aware of their prevention, care, and support resources.
  5. Seek to participate in the development of first-year orientation and online prevention trainings for students and faculty.
  6. Seek to reform Residential Education hiring practices by implementing anonymous Resident Advisor surveys and guidelines for continually assessing RAs.
  7. Seek involvement in the Title IX coordinator and President of Occidental College search committees.
  8. Seek to incorporate Restorative Justice knowledge and practices in our work.

Email: oxysexualassaultcoalition1@gmail.com 

Instagram: instagram.com/oxysexualassaultcoalition

Facebook: facebook.com/osacisback

Please contact OSAC if you have any questions, concerns or want to talk.