On March 18, Senate Bill 854 was introduced to the state legislature, seeking to change how the governing board of public universities is composed. One of the sponsors was Corvallis’ Senator Sarah Gelser.
Along with changing how governing boards are made up, SB 854 would requires members to have a publicly available email address, be “available to present before board” for people working or going to school at the university – including unions and organizations, and require an investigation into the president every two years. Additionally, eliminating a major or minor program would require commission approval.
Disarm OSU, an activist group who describe themselves as “a unified movement of students, faculty, staff, and community members who oppose policing on the Oregon State University campus, and are seeking restorative justice for Black, Brown, Indigenous, and queer people in our community,” encourage community members to look into this bill. The campaign preferred to speak as a collective in this case.
“The bill proposes far more community involvement in the university’s governance than the current system, and this is exactly what we need to truly make OSU a better place,” they said.
In fact, when requested for comment about the hiring process for the new university President, the group said choosing another person to fill the seat would not sufficiently change the lack of support for assault survivors on campus.
“We want to stress that these issues are resulting from failed leadership of the entire Board of Trustees, not just the President,” Disarm said. “Regardless of who fills the President seat, the entire Board of Trustees has been complicit in the under-resourcing of survivors independent of the actions of the former President, as well as the interim President Ed Feser, who is also deeply unfit for our community.”
Many members have been advocating for the Survivor Advocacy & Resource Center to be expanded since August, which can be seen on the group’s Facebook page where they have recordings of those board meetings. The Board has ignored their calls.
“Furthermore, the faculty senate has voted no-confidence for the entire Board,” Disarm said. “The OSU community should be governed by others in the community, and no one person can do that perfectly.”
“The Board of Trustees, the highest governing board of OSU, are not members of our community and have demonstrated their inadequacy and lack of interest in governing our community in line with what we need,” Disarm continued. “We need institutional restructuring of our university far past the selection of a new president.”
Lastly, the group added that the focus on who is filling the seat of President rather than the experiences and needs of survivors is frustrating, as helping those in need is the best way to help the community as a whole.
By: Hannah Ramsey