The Office of the President held the first public forum discussing the issue of sexual assault on Monday at the Ford Alumni Center.
Student groups have made over 120 recommendations for the administration in the past year to deal with the issue of sexual violence on campus.
Interim President at the University of Oregon, Scott Coltrane, spoke for the first half of the forum, explaining the administration’s course of action.
Coltrane said the administration will meet with groups and review feedback this month. He said the administration will create a plan and hopes to share it by the end of March.
Spring term, the administration will create an advisory council to handle the issue. The council will appoint a new coordinator to revise and implement the plan, and conduct more climate surveys.
The administration then invited attendees to ask questions regarding the issue and course of action.
A member of the University of Oregon’s Senate Task Force Addressing Sexual Violence, Karli Smith, expressed her concern with the administration’s emails and asked whether the nature of the messages will change.
“Our messaging has not always been on the right topics or with the right message, and we’re working on that,” Coltrane said.
Alex Smith, a therapist and grad student, said he thinks the administration needs to ensure confidentiality for victims to create a culture that supports survivors.
Coltrane agreed and said $500,000 will be put towards programs and increased staffing to handle the issue.
A number of students felt dissatisfied with the way the president answered their questions.
Graduate teaching student and member of UO’s Coalition to End Sexual Violence, Dana Rognlie, asked the president how much the administration spent on sexual assault lawsuits. Coltrane would not disclose the information. He also did not comment when Rognlie asked whether the president’s office would send a formal apology for the way it has handled sexual violence.
The forum then broke into five groups to brainstorm recommendations for the administration.
Some students left at that point. A member of the Coalition to End Sexual Violence, Kathleen Pioveson, said it was pointless.
“We have already given them recommendations and we want to hear from them,” Pioveson said.
An impartial moderator led each group for the remainder of the forum. Members of administration attended, including Coltrane.
Coltrane said that his group discussion focused largely on improving sexual assault prevention in residence halls, and educating mandatory reporters like Resident Assistants on their options in reporting situations.
Vice President of Student Life Robin Holmes, also participated.
She said her group discussed the importance of transparent communication on the issue. Her group also agreed that establishing a strong message of what the University of Oregon stands for and its values will be beneficial in dealing with the issue.
Holmes said she felt the forum went well in that the dialogue and emotions expressed will drive change and therefore must continue.
“The fact that we are attempting to talk about it and come to a solution is a good step,” she said.