Someone sent me this letter from the President of OSU. This is what real leadership looks like: not legalistic maneuvering, or reactions based on fear about the effect on brand or public image. “Our concern moving forward is to assist her healing.” A lesson in leadership for us all.
December 10, 2014
Dear Campus Community,
I would like you to know that we have concluded an investigation of the 1998 sexual assault that has been reported recently in the media.
This afternoon, Angelo Gomez, executive director of OSU’s Office of Equity and Inclusion, and I met with Brenda Tracy, the survivor of the assault, and shared the results of the university’s investigation into how OSU handled the incident. The assault reportedly involved two Oregon State football players at the time and other men not enrolled at the university. Ms. Tracy has made public through the media what she experienced.
I want to thank Ms. Tracy for raising the public dialogue about the consequences of sexual violence. I am grateful to her for raising the important discussion about how society assists survivors of such violence. While we cannot undo this nightmare, we apologize for any failure on Oregon State University’s part in 1998 to better assist Ms. Tracy.
Federal and state laws regarding student educational records do not allow OSU to share publicly what we shared confidentially today with Ms. Tracy as the survivor of this sexual violence.
What we can share is that the student conduct environment in 1998 that dealt with off-campus matters involving a non-student was very different nationally – and at OSU. If this case was reported to us today, we would pursue significant student conduct actions – even if this violence took place off-campus and involved a survivor who was not a student.
I assure you that today we would respect the survivor’s wishes and their confidentiality. We would work with the survivor to fully pursue conduct sanctions including the suspension or expulsion of those OSU students who committed such an offense. And we would work to stop the sexual misconduct, prevent a recurrence and assist the survivor.
Earlier this month, I asked Oregon State officials to evaluate possible retroactive student conduct actions in this case, but they determined that law will not allow the university to take such action. Changing how the criminal process was managed in 1998 in this case is beyond OSU’s control.
As you may know, Ms. Tracy has expressed interest in talking with current members of the OSU football team regarding her experiences. We remain open and willing to have Ms. Tracy talk with members of the OSU football team to the extent that she is comfortable doing so and it is consistent with her healing. And we are open to have Ms. Tracy talk with members of the broader OSU student community, but only if it is consistent with her wishes.
What we learned these past weeks of Ms. Tracy’s life and suffering is heart-breaking. Our concern moving forward is to assist her healing.
Edward J. Ray
Oregon State University
600 Kerr Administration Building
Corvallis, Oregon 97331-2128