Thursday, April 22, 2021

To: OSU Community Members

From: Edward Feser, Acting President, Provost and Executive Vice President
          Becky Johnson, Interim President-Elect

April 22, 2021

OSU Community Members,

At Tuesday evening’s “Humanity and Hope” event, we heard from Black members of the university community that although the guilty verdict in the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin was important, it is only one milestone on the road to true racial justice and equality. We agree.

We write today to share additional actions consistent with OSU’s commitment to antiracism. These add to work underway as part of OSU’s “Moving Forward Together” initiative, diversity strategic plan, and Strategic Plan 4.0.

  • Policing centered on de-escalation. Under the leadership of Associate Vice President for Public Safety and Police Chief Shanon Anderson, OSU is developing policies, practices, training programs, and codes of conduct to guide its policing that emphasize de-escalation practices and appropriate use of force policies. Underpinning the policies and practices is a commitment to community policing. A public safety advisory committee and an oversight committee will be key mechanisms for accountability.
  • OSU Assist. We are formalizing and strengthening cross-unit collaboration and coordination of Corvallis campus 24/7 crisis prevention, mental health, and response services under a new umbrella program called OSU Assist. The search for a coordinator for OSU Assist is underway with the hiring of crisis responders following. OSU Assist and the Department of Public Safety and police staff will have a close working relationship to assure that students are supported with holistic services.
  • Juneteenth 2021 will be recognized as a university holiday. The treatment, experiences and struggles of Black Americans in Oregon are well documented. Oregon was founded under a system of racial exclusion that has lasting effects to this day. We applaud the Oregon House of Representatives’ approval of HB 2168 calling for June 19 to be a paid state holiday. This legislation is supported by Gov. Kate Brown and we anticipate that it will likely pass the Senate and take effect in 2022.

We hope that occurs, but in the meantime we are declaring Friday, June 18, 2021, as a university holiday in honor of Juneteenth, and call upon each of us to observe this day in recognition of OSU’s support for Black Americans and commitment to ending systemic racism. Juneteenth acknowledges the true end of slavery in the United States in 1865, two years after adoption of the Emancipation Proclamation, and is a long standing African American holiday, honoring Black history, culture, resistance, and resilience.

  • Advocacy for policing reform. We applaud Oregon legislators and advocates for considering several important public safety legislative proposals in the current legislative session. OSU’s Government Relations team is tracking this legislation and OSU will contribute input and support for changes that advance policing reforms within our university and statewide.

Our community’s efforts to dismantle systemic racism require us to work collaboratively as faculty, staff, students, administrators, alumni and stakeholders. The “Moving Forward Together” web page includes an input feature for community members to submit additional recommendations and proposed actions.

We pledge to provide updates as OSU’s antiracism work proceeds.

Sincerely,

Edward Feser
Acting President
Provost and Executive Vice President

Rebecca Johnson
Interim President-Elect