Scott Coltrane meets with organizers of sexual assault survivor support rally
Students and faculty protested on Feb. 27 to the University of Oregon’s administration’s response to the lawsuit filed by the survivor of an alleged sexual assault in March of last year.
Protestors marched in silence to the Johnson Hall lobby and then chanted until several leaders of the rally were allowed into the offices to speak with Scott Coltrane, interim president of the University of Oregon, about their concerns.
Sophie Albanis, one of the students who spoke with Coltrane, said later that their conversation was productive but not entirely comprehensive due to a lack of time.
The students offered several recommendations for survivor support, including the recently passed ASUO resolution regarding the expansion of Fraternity and Sorority Life, as well as legal support services for survivors. In addition, they communicated their disappointment in the language used in the university’s countersuit, and the way the university has handled sexual assault as a campus safety issue.
Coltrane encouraged them to attend an upcoming campus conversation and progress report on addressing sexual violence, which will be held in the Ford Alumni Center Giustina Ballroom on Monday Mar. 2 from 4-5:30 p.m.
The event began on the lawn beside Hendricks Hall. Several organizers, many of whom were from the Women’s Center, gave short speeches about why they were gathered.
Among these was Zach Lusby, a survivor of sexual assault and vocal advocate for survivors on campus. He spoke about the need to change the way the university handles sexual assault both in terms of mindset and policy.
“We have the opportunity to change this culture, where people like me won’t be afraid to speak up,” Lusby said during his opening remarks.
The next part of the rally was a silent march from the lawn to the quad and back down 13th St. to the steps of Johnson Hall. Protestors carried signs and some had put tape over their mouths as a symbolic reference to the survivors who are silenced by various circumstances.
Paul Shang from the Office of the Dean of Students met the demonstrators at the steps and they stood in continued silence for several minutes as all the demonstrators got into place. Finally, the leaders broke the silence by leading the group in chants.
Faculty, including economics professor Bill Harbaugh and media studies professor Carol Stabile, turned out in support of the rally, which eventually proceeded all the way into the lobby of Johnson Hall. There, the protestors continued to chant for around ten minutes until Coltrane and several others opened the office doors to Albanis, Lusby and two other organizers from the Women’s Center.
While waiting on those in conference, the demonstrators settled into a sit-in in the lobby, taking to social media to invite others to join.
When the four came out of the offices, they debriefed the remaining demonstrators on their conversation with Coltrane, as well as encouraging them to attend the Mar. 2 forum. The rally ended just before 3 p.m.
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