Students protest the board’s decision to keep Chairman Baca

Protesters+were+encouraged+to+stand+in+marked+spaces+that+were+measured+6ft.+apart.+Pictured+is+McKenna+Mussner%2C+a+senior+environmental+science+major%2C+leading+a+chant+with+her+fellow+students.+Mussner+combined+forces+with+two+other+women+to+organize+and+bring+the+event+to+fruition.

Luke Fia, '21

Protesters were encouraged to stand in marked spaces that were measured 6ft. apart. Pictured is McKenna Mussner, a senior environmental science major, leading a chant with her fellow students. Mussner combined forces with two other women to organize and bring the event to fruition.

Alexandra Feller, Editor-in-chief

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“Never underestimate the Linfield community,” a phrase that is often told to students as freshmen. It is meant to assure them that no matter where they go– in the world, or in their career path– they will always have a wildcat to lean on.

On July 16, the Linfield community, which included students, alumni, staff, faculty, and McMinnville community members, united to protest the decision to keep David Baca as Chairman of the Board of Trustees in addition to demanding better sexual assault policy at Linfield.

Baca was alleged to have mishandled sexual misconduct allegations between board members and students and faculty. After an 88 to 18 vote of no confidence on Baca from Linfield faculty, the college announced he would remain in his position. Students have been actively voicing their concerns regarding this decision through social media.

One petition, created by an anonymous Linfield student, gained notable traction after it was posted in a Phi Sigma Sigma Facebook group. The petition was signed by members of the sorority around the United States and now has over 3,000 signatures.

In addition, Hannah Waterman, a senior bio-chemistry and Math double major, created an email template for concerned individuals to send to President Davis or administrators.

These email templates and petitions to have Baca removed, circulated social media, grabbing the attention of Linfield students, alumni, and others concerned about the college’s wellbeing.

Waterman, a member of the sorority Phi Sigma Sigma and FSL Bystander Engagement Training Co-Coordinator, posted the petition in a sorority Facebook group. It “really blew up,” she said. Members of her sorority from chapters around the country showed their support through signature. 

Waterman was one three women who decided to organize Friday’s protest. McKenna Mussner, a senior environmental science major, and Miriam Peterson, the daughter of sociology professor Jeff Peterson, also helped bring the event to life.

Mussner has been living in McMinnville this summer. While working at Evenpull Farms, she met Peterson, who works at Britain Vineyard. 

The three connected over their concerns for Linfield, Waterman explained, adding, 

“It’s frustrating to me that Linfield still hasn’t made a statement acknowledging concerns,” Waterman said. “The only statement Linfield has made is that there are no board members with sexual assault allegation against them, but that doesn’t really address the problem.”

They started planning by reaching out to Allison Horn, the director of events at Linfield, who told them to consult with Campus Police Security, where they talked to Denis Marks, “He was supportive, but his biggest concern was the pandemic. He didn’t want to bring a ton of outsiders on campus,” Mussner recalled.

Continuing with a greenlight from CPS and McMinnville city police, they then bought 150 masks in case protestors forget theirs and began advertising online. They reached out to friends and posts were made on various community boards.

“It was definitely helpful to have Peterson’s insight,” Mussner said. “She is really connected to the McMinnville community and hand encouraged folks to wear masks when advertising the event as a precaution.

Peterson reached out to her father to inform faculty and invite them to attend the protest as well.

During the protest, Waterman said she talked to a few faculty members who were happy that Linfield students are taking the lead because when students speak up it tends to make more of an impact than just faculty voicing concerns to the administration.

Waterman, Mussner, and Peterson created an opportunity for students to submit protest sign captions as a way to show their support from a distance. A variety of signs were made from quotes that people sent in.

Waterman felt their efforts were successful, “I think a lot of students are upset and want change,” she said. 

In addition, she spoke with a few Delta Psi Delta fraternity members who expressed concerns over how sexual assault is handled in fraternaty and sorority life. They expressed interest in forming better systems in Greek Life to deal with reports of sexual assault and misconduct. 

Delta member Joseph Murphy said in an interview after the protest, “Frats should be places where men go to find community, and they should seek to become better men.” 

Murphy, a senior who is double majoring in physics and Mathematics, continued by recognizing, “Fraternities have a long way to go, but they have been taking more positive changes by being more active in supporting student initiatives.” 

While Waterman is happy with the success of the protest, she does not want this to deter anyone from Linfield, “We don’t want them to be afraid to go to Linfield— this is just to raise awareness and solve the problems at hand,” she said. 

Waterman praised Jeff McKay and Susal Agre-Kippenhan for their support during this process. She wants to make sure students know they are doing everything they can to act in the best interest of the students, and have been nothing but cooperative during the organization process. “They really are trying their best to help us,” she said.

 Mussner is happy with the success of the protest, but wants to make sure awareness does not stop there, but rather continues to work its way through sexual assault and misconduct policy changes at Linfield. 

“We ask the school to prove they are committed to handling sexual assaults in a safer way, and that starts with firing Baca.”