December 7, 2015

To the Oregon State University Community,

Over the past few weeks, I pledged that Oregon State University will act quickly to address the concerns of racial injustice that have been shared recently by many of our students so as to ensure that our university is a safer, more just, caring and inclusive community. I am proud that our students showed the courage to ask us to listen to the experiences they have had to deal with on campus and offer valuable suggestions for next steps.

I pledged that this University will not simply talk about these essential matters. I promised that we will act in more effective and systemic ways than we have in the past because regardless of the intent of past efforts to draw our community together, business as usual has failed to serve our needs. While I am announcing specific actions today, more action will be required in the months ahead to position us to attain the equity, inclusion and social justice that we all seek for our community. Our process for going forward will include on-going collaboration with our students, faculty and staff. Furthermore, we will more fully communicate with the entire OSU community each step of the way.

Following discussions that I held on Nov. 23 with student leaders and colleagues, I am announcing today that:

  • I will create a position of Chief Diversity Officer for the University, reporting directly to me.

This Chief Diversity Officer will oversee institutional change actions, initiatives and communications regarding diversity, equity and inclusion throughout all facets of our University. I am creating this position to advance more rapid progress toward our highest aspirations for social justice in our community. This focus on institutional change will help advance Oregon State University to be a community characterized in all we do by inclusive excellence.

I also will create a separate office to continue oversight for Title IX, Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action, all ADA matters, complaint resolution and accommodations for people with disabilities. The broad purpose of this office will be to provide equal access, opportunity and engagement for all, while meeting the University’s compliance needs. The Director of this office will report directly to me, and will work closely with the Chief Diversity Officer to identify current and systemic issues that the campus must address.

In order to allow sufficient time to smoothly implement such changes in counsel with key staff, complete details, including the appointment of the Interim Chief Diversity Officer, will be announced by the end of January. Until then, the Office of Equity and Inclusion will maintain all of its present responsibilities.

  • I will add student representatives to Oregon State’s existing Leadership Council on Equity, Inclusion and Diversity.The leadership council will continue to advise me on long-term initiatives and campus climate issues, and also will serve in an advisory capacity to the University’s Chief Diversity Officer.
  • I and other university leaders will hold quarterly “town hall” meetings to engage with members of the campus community on topics related to civil and social justice, equity and inclusion.
  • The University will create referral systems and resources to address bias concerns.

These resources will include exploring a hotline for reporting concerns regarding racial bias, harassment, safety and related matters. This hotline service would provide an opportunity for community members to make a phone report regarding bias matters and have reports to the confidential hotline elevated in a timely manner for follow up by the appropriate university office. To report an immediate issue at this time, please go to:http://oregonstate.edu/oei/complaints

  • The University will develop required on-line educational programs as well as orientation programs in racial awareness, civil and social justice and diversity for entering students.
  • We will prominently communicate the University’s commitment -- and its expectations -- for safety, civil and social justice, inclusivity and racial and gender equality to be practiced by all associated with Oregon State. The recently announced policy regarding transfer student admissions is intended to increase campus safety.
  • The University will complete its investigation into the sources of the racially insensitive and hateful comments that were posted on the chat room during the Nov. 16 “speak out;” take appropriate disciplinary and educational action; and provide the community with a summary of findings.

I have asked Provost and Executive Vice President Sabah Randhawa to chair an action committee to evaluate, implement and monitor our immediate and on-going actions to address safety and diversity issues. The committee will include students and institutional leaders.

Throughout the rest of the academic year, I will provide further updates to the Oregon State community, including information on additional action plans, such as hiring initiatives to increase faculty diversity to be developed in collaboration with the deans and vice presidents and the faculty senate; expanded employee training; further curriculum efforts to advance equity, inclusion, diversity, and civil and social justice; additional steps to engage our students in these essential matters on a continuing basis; and steps to regularly report the outcomes of our shared efforts.

These actions -- and Oregon State’s aspiration to be a fully inclusive and just community -- are not just a set of words. They are my commitment, and it is my clear understanding that “business as usual” is not good enough at Oregon State University. Actions will be taken and results achieved.

You have my full commitment to social justice, civility, respect and safety for all. And I ask for yours.

 

Edward J. Ray

President