It’s about damn time

Charlotte Abramson, Opinions Editor

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Trigger Warning: Article contains references to sexual assault and abuse

 

Opinions expressed in the opinion section are entirely the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of The Linfield Review, it’s editors and other staff members. The Review strives to keep it’s platform a public forum for all Linfield University students. 

 

After over 2 years of unrest within the student and faculty population, David Baca is finally being replaced. It’s about damn time.

When I transferred to Linfield spring of 2020, I knew of the accusations surrounding David Baca and the David Jubb scandal, but it was too late to change my mind. Linfield’s nursing program was superior and it was where I was headed. 

Although my major quickly changed as I realized I didn’t enjoy science, Baca’s place as chair on the Board of Trustees remained and my mind was blown. Why? Why, when it was so easy to see that Linfield’s students and faculty had lost confidence and were calling for his dismissal

The Board of TRUSTees, it’s ironic.

I’ve felt a lot of things recently about my enrollment at Linfield University. Proud, respected, self-assured and confident, supported wholeheartedly by my professors and peers. But also ashamed, discouraged, angry, upset and afraid. I know I am not alone in this. 

When Linfield students took to social media and the streets to protest Baca’s continued access to our education and safety, nothing was done. We were ignored and pushed aside despite the news coverage, and the survivors of said scandal were disregarded. 

It soon lost momentum as these things do, because our society promotes rape culture and marinates in it. Linfield is no exception. 

It’s such a pretty campus from the outside though, isn’t it?

When a well-loved tenured professor, Daniel Pollack-Pelzner stepped forward to speak up about the sexual harassment and discrimination rampant on campus, he was fired. In response, many students stepped forward as spring term concluded, sharing their own heartbreaking accounts of how they felt Linfield had failed them.

What no one talks about is how they were the few who felt like they could. 

I’ve held friends as they’ve cried because of the harassment and blame their educational institution dished out for being a sexual assault survivor. I’ve spoken to women who I know won’t ever come forward because of the damage that was done as their school tried to “handle it”, or because their assaulter held a position of power. 

Or simply, because society tells them nothing will be done. 

For those reading who think it isn’t such a big issue, you are part of the problem. According to RAINN, the national sexual assault hotline, “13% of all students experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence, or incapacitation (among all graduate and undergraduate students).” 

While Baca stepping down is a start, there is much more to do. The mandatory sexual harassment and discrimination training on Blackboard all students must complete by Oct. 1 is a start, but we need more. While the members of the board are now required to complete annual training on sexual misconduct and Title IX, it was clearly needed from the start. 

The fact is we need more of everything. More resources and support for students affected, more mental health services offered and more training for the board and administration. We need fundamental structural change, this is a systemic problem. Slapping a Band-Aid on it and simply reviewing Title IX is an insult to all survivors.

A recently published letter to the editor in The Linfield Review titled “A call for leadership change”, submitted by dozens of faculty and alumni, has called for a change in leadership. Not just for Baca’s removal from the board, but also for President Miles Davis to resign. 

So now, Kerry Carmody is stepping in as interim chair of the board starting Oct. 1. But why is another old white man replacing another old white man? Where are the women? Where is the diversity? It’s like the boy’s club out there, but saying “boys will be boys” and looking away is no longer acceptable. All students, faculty and staff are entitled to feel safe at school. If they don’t, which not all of us do, then there is a serious problem. 

As Halsey, an American singer and songwriter said in her speech at the 2018 New York City women’s march, “Every friend that I know has a story like mine”. EVERY friend that I know has a story like mine. I encourage you to listen to her poem and then tell me sexual assault isn’t real. It doesn’t matter if you’re a student, a professor or a celebrity, we are all the same. 

Some will say demanding safety and encouraging discourse surrounding sexual assault is an attack on men, radical feminism if you will, pushed by the leftists and the media. Some will say it’s a non-issue because they don’t know anyone who’s been assaulted. I almost guarantee you do, and if you don’t yet, you will. 

As a survivor, I deserve better. For all my fellow classmates who don’t yet have the voice to step forward, they deserve better. For all the students who have already been harmed because of the school’s failure to address the issues we face now, they deserve better. Our school, our students and our faculty deserve so much better. 

Do better Linfield. 

Protect your students.

 

Resources:

If you or someone you know has been affected by sexual misconduct, harassment or assault, please reach out to someone for help. You are not alone.

RAINN resources

Hotline: 800-656-4673

Linfield University’s Sexual Misconduct and Relationship Violence Support Team

Susan Hopp-Title IX Coordinator 

503-883-2588

[email protected]

Confidential Campus Advocate 

 503-883-2806

 [email protected]

 Student Health, Wellness & Counseling 

 503-883-2535

 [email protected]

 University Chaplain 

 503-883-2259

 [email protected]