Image Credit Addie Mcilroy
On Wednesday, February 23rd, the first ASSOU Town Hall meeting since the pandemic took place. Town Hall meetings are a great opportunity for students to voice their opinions about different aspects of SOU. The members of the ASSOU want students to know who to talk to in order to make a change. They are working hard on communication and urge students to be more involved in campus politics.
“The administration must demonstrate that they are listening,” said SOU’s newly elected president, Rick Bailey. The administration is eager to hear what areas SOU is excelling in, and in what areas it could be doing better.
Though not many students attended this meeting, those who did brought many thoughtful questions and concerns to the board. The main issue brought up was about student safety on campus. For instance, sexual assault on campus has been widely discussed at SOU in recent weeks. Students may remember administration sending out two emails acknowledging the number of assaults on campus, and tied the increase in reports to dangerous misuse of dating apps. These emails raised a multitude of questions for the student body, including the question of what SOU is doing to prevent these crimes from occurring.
The board elaborated on the intention of those emails. They assured the students that the emails were not “an acknowledgment of an increase” in sex crimes. They were merely upholding the university’s responsibility to inform the student body of a global trend in criminal behavior. Additionally, an increase in reports of sexual assault do not necessarily correlate with an increase of the crime on campus. Students may choose to report with more frequency for numerous factors, including accessibility to a clear line of support. With that said, the students mentioned that they would like to be informed if there is an increase in criminal behavior on campus. One student even asked if statistical reports of campus violence could be accessible to students. Notifying students on what campus areas to avoid at night and on any questionable behavior that has been detected is one step administrators could take to make students feel safer. However, SOU also has a responsibility to respect the privacy of the victims involved in these crimes.
Some other suggestions made by the students and board members were directed towards the safety of students who might walk alone at night after a late class or work shift. This included the placement of more street lamps and emergency lights in the darker areas of campus. Campus Public Safety also shared that they are actively on duty 24/7. Another student at the meeting added that putting cameras in the residence halls might make students feel safer. For any questions regarding safety or any other non-emergency topics, call (541) 552-6911. In addition, students can do their part by notifying CPS if any street lamps are out. In this case, call (541) 552-6321.
Sexual misconduct is not the only crime that concerns students. Hate crimes and discrimination is another reality that campuses are facing across the country. Many minority students are concerned about their safety due to national tensions between people of color and the police, as well as political radicals whose discrimination has caused controversy on campuses. One student mentioned a hate crime that occurred over social media a few years ago; the students want to know what the administration is doing to prevent hate crimes and how they are holding those who perpetuate these crimes accountable. At SOU, the same efforts to prevent sex crimes will be taken to prevent hate crimes. However, President Bailey did acknowledge the fact that cruelness is a sad reality that still exists. The administration is working hard to make SOU a safe, inclusive environment where students can feel free from social discrimination.
“We want to cultivate a community that is unified in defending against hate crimes,” Bailey said in the meeting. One of the most powerful moves a community can make is to speak out and unite against discrimination. Community support can largely impact the social atmosphere.
No one should have to face violence simply because of their identity. SOU strongly opposes this behavior and is consistently making efforts to make everyone feel welcome on campus. The administration invites students to contact the office with any questions or concerns. They also encourage students to attend Town Hall meetings and speak with administrators and ASSOU members directly. The SOU student body has a powerful voice and can use it to make changes on its campus.