[Updated] UO says it followed proper protocol in response to Sen. Wyden’s questions on sexual assault investigation
Update at Tuesday 4:40 p.m.:
On Tuesday afternoon, Sen. Wyden responded to the Emerald’s request for comment saying that he is open to a conversation with UO President Michael Schill.
“I love my alma mater and want to get this fixed as soon as possible – a goal that of course means I would meet with President Schill,” Sen. Wyden said. “That meeting would benefit immensely from including Brenda Tracy, a nationally recognized Oregon voice on the topic of sexual assault.”
Tracy is an advocate for rape survivors and member of the NCAA Committee to Combat Sexual Violence. She was sexually assaulted in 1998 by four men, two of whom were football players at Oregon State University.
Tracy also released a statement Tuesday that was critical of the university’s handling of the investigation.
“By all accounts, it appears that UO failed to follow their own policy,” Tracy wrote in the statement.
Hank Stern, Sen. Wyden’s press secretary, said that more work needs to be done by the university when it comes to establishing protocol to deal with sexual misconduct.
“It’s clear from the university’s answers to the questions Senator Wyden raised that more work remains to improve campus safety including establishing and abiding by clear and consistent processes when allegations of sexual misconduct arise.” Stern wrote in an email to the Emerald.
Here’s @brendatracy24’s statement on UO’s response to Senator Wyden’s letter. Story to come soon.
“By all accounts, it appears that UO failed to follow their own policy… Survivors expect and deserve better than that.” pic.twitter.com/4loyuouqdZ
— Kenny Jacoby (@kennyjacoby) November 14, 2017
On Monday, the University of Oregon released its response to questions posed by Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden on its handling of last year’s sexual assault investigation involving basketball player Kavell Bigby-Williams.
UO President Michael Schill wrote that the university chose not to pursue a conduct investigation against Bigby-Williams out of respect to the survivor’s wishes. According to Schill, the decision came after a law enforcement and Title IX team determined the evidence didn’t meet the criteria to override the survivor’s wishes in the situation.
The administration says that the Title IX coordinator and deputy coordinator, as well as the athletic director, followed university policies and guidelines.
The response was addressing Wyden’s letter from Nov. 3 that asked UO to respond to five questions regarding the incident, requesting that a response be given by Nov. 20.
The responding letter from the university, which amounted to 42 pages, included a response from Schill, answers to Wyden’s questions from the Offices of Title IX and the General Counsel and the 2016 annual Title IX report.
Wyden’s questions come after former Daily Emerald sports editor Kenny Jacoby broke the story on the investigation in June and published a follow-up story in Sports Illustrated that criticized the university for not following its own policies.
Schill, in his response, defended the university’s actions and denounced the reporting on the investigation as not honoring the survivor’s wishes for the situation to remain private.
Schill also mentioned that the Standard Operating Procedures for sexual assault are not university policy. Instead, they are meant as guidelines that execute the Student Code of Conduct and are how UO responds to disclosures and reports of inappropriate sexual violations.
Schill concluded his letter to Wyden with an invitation for a discussion with himself, the General Counsel and the Title IX team.
In addition to the responses, the administration provided a list of UO’s Title IX services and detailed the university’s sexual assault support system, naming resources that students can use and future solutions that will be explored throughout the years 2017-2019.
Some solutions are the Responsible Reporting Policy, which was recently enacted this year, and new training for grad students, employees of the university and community members.
This list included Schill’s commitment to upholding Title IX policies following proposed changes by the Department of Education and the UO’s free legal services provided to survivors of sexual assault.
Casey Crowley contributed reporting to this story.
Correction: The date Jacoby’s article was published has been corrected as well as details about Brenda Tracy.