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Shame on Y{OU} Homecoming Action

On the morning of Saturday October 8, 2016, student and community activists gathered in the basement of United Campus Ministry before making the short trek together to let their disgust with institutionalized Rape Culture at Ohio University be publicly known. Wearing shirts bearing messages such as, “OU protects rapists, punishes survivors” and “Shame on Y{OU},” protesters drummed on upturned buckets and held conversations about the issue with parade goers at the University's annual Homecoming Parade.

 

Last year, when OU's Survivor Advocacy Program (OUSAP) serving students, faculty, and staff lost its grant funding, OU Administration chose to fund the program at far below the minimum level necessary to provide adequate support to survivors of sexual violence on campus. Then when the program's Director left what had become an untenable position, the University chose to shut the program down for 9 months. Now, the program has reopened, but with staff who lack prior specialized training in sexual assault survivor services and without the crucial element of confidential peer advocates, a cornerstone of the program's services to students. Since re-opening, the program no longer serves faculty and staff.

 

Additionally OU has recently withdrawn their support for the Survivor Advocacy Outreach Program (SAOP), the area's first rape crisis center serving community members of seven rural, Appalachian counties, a program that had been housed at the University for the past three years. SAOP is now forced to find a new location and fiscal agent.

 

Lastly, although for the past three years, OU staff members had been pushing the administration to conduct a Campus Climate Survey assessing the climate around sexual violence on campus, they declined to do so until early this year when they realized that failing to do so would put the University out of compliance with federal policy. Although data collection for this survey was completed in April and results had been tabulated and analyzed before the start of the fall semester, the results of the survey have still not been made public.

 

“This to us represents a persistent pattern of undervaluing the safety and wellbeing of students. It creates an appearance of a University more concerned with budget and liability than with students' safety and well-being. And it shows that at Ohio University, administrator's concerns about budget and liability supersede what is taught as best practice in the University's own academic programs.” Evan Young, Campus Minister for United Campus Ministry.

 

“Over the summer, when there was nowhere else for them to go, survivors came to me for support. I was enraged at stories of survivors being punished by the University for reporting and perpetrators continuing to get free reign over campus. We are here today to make sure that all of these alumni, who look back so fondly on their time at OU, know that this University has institutionalized Rape Culture when they could be working to institutionalize Consent Culture. This is not the kind of University that I would want to celebrate or donate to. I am ashamed to be an alumni of this University.” Sarah Fick, founding organizer for People's Justice League, a local anti-street harassment campaign.

 

Survivors deserve to be provided with access to comprehensive, confidential advocacy services and to be afforded the ability to make informed choices regarding their own processes following an assaultive experience. Since January 2016, SAOP has been unable to maintain these standards. With our transition from Ohio University, we are thankful to again offer survivors what we know to be the most effective and supportive services through the reinstatement of confidential advocacy services.” Kat Wargo, Program Coordinator for SAOP. The SAOP crisis line can be reached at 740-591-4266.