Letter to the editor: student asks for transparency

Sophomore Katie Martinez addresses concerns around transparency in Linfield’s leadership.

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My name is Katie Martinez, a current sophomore at Linfield University and a McMinnville local. I am reaching out to you from a place of concern. As a current student investing in my future at this institution, it is important to me that I attend a school that values transparency and elevates student voices. I chose to attend a liberal arts school so that I can grow not only academically, but morally, by engaging in diverse perspectives and to better understand the systems that influence our world and the very human experiences that these systems effect. Hence, it is very concerning to hear from my trusted peers and a professor whom I have developed a meaningful professional relationship with, about the sexual misconduct and harassment from Trustees.

I am also concerned to hear from multiple sources about the balantant anti-semitism both from President Miles Davis and on campus (the appearance of swasticas in a dorm building in December 2019). I am deeply disappointed with the response President Miles Davis has hence provided for his actions. Linfield University claims to be an institution that does not discriminate and that will produce extraordinary students. I, as a student, now expect extraordinary action and extraordinary accountability in return. 

Linfield University needs to be transparent about the actions of people in power and hold them accountable. Linfield University needs to acknowledge the power dynamic at play in the cited incidents of misconduct and antisemitism. Linfield University needs do its homework: engage in anti-bias trainings at all levels of power, improve its means of support for survivors of sexual harassment in all its forms. Linfield must cultivate a campus culture that is able to engage in discussions of consent and power. 

Sexual assault is about power, and until Linfield confronts the disinfranchisement of student voices, the hegemonic system that hurts survivors, and the lack of ample supportive structures to begin healing the trauma these systems have created. If not confronted as such, this cancer will spread and cripple this institution from within. The “uncommon” values meant to challenge Linfield students to do better, be better, will ultimately falter and fail as the facade, intended to hide the discriminatory systems and actions of those in power, is laid bare. 

I have no interest in this scenario becoming Linfield’s future, so I will act. But ultimately, I alone as a student do not have the power. Trustees, listen to Dr. Daniel Pollack Pelzner. Do not let Trustee Dave Baca and President Miles Davis continue to censor his reports and the work he does, listening to professors and students. Listen to the advice from the Anti-Defamation League. Listen to the students and alumni, to their stories. Listen to professors. People in power protect other people in power. This is the standard, the norm. I beg of you, make Linfield “uncommon.” 

Linfield, do not protect people in power, who no longer deserve the power they hold. Linfield: there are resources to help a traumatized institution heal. The Center for Institutional Courage is a great place to start. The work of Dr. Jennifer J. Freyd of the University of Oregon and leading trauma psychologist can assist Linfield University moving forward. I ask that Linfield University commits to the ten principles of Institutional Courage. It is only through such work can policy and culture change to change and trust to be renewed.

Linfield University: acknowledge the trauma felt by this campus; hiding trauma, making it invisible, does not enable healing. Write better policies, clearer policies, to protect from ALL forms of sexual misconduct. There must be changes to the trustee behavior guidelines. There must be training for trustees on sexual misconduct, among other topics about supporting a diverse student body. Trustees, you decide what happens at this University. No amount of money or graduate programs will uphold a facade of security and transparency; it is time to have moral courage. I now look forward to hearing your intentions to engage in these necessary changes.

Sincerely, 

A concerned student

Katie Martinez