Until OU’s administrators puts in writing that they will fund OUSAP, their words are meaningless.
Last week, the Ohio University administration responded to the cries of student activists demanding that the Ohio University Survivor Advocacy Program become a priority. The university should be embarrassed that it took three students being arrested, three others cited and many letters to the editor to garner a public response. This administration only seems to care about things that impact students when it’s a good PR move.
Dr. Shari Clarke and Dr. Pam Benoit seem to be stating that we, the activists, are spreading rumors in order to get what we want. It was Vice President for Student Affairs Ryan Lombardi who said “there are no plans at all to diminish any support whatsoever to any of those programs,” insinuating that this administration was already supporting OUSAP, which they aren’t. OUSAP runs on a federal grant that is set to expire in October, so there’s no way to “diminish” support that doesn’t exist. OUSAP has to pay for their own advertising, including the advertisements that are displayed on Baker’s television screens. If student survivors are a top priority, why don’t they get help to advertise their services on campus?
OUSAP has no conference room and no office. There are a limited number of advocates available to help students, especially when an advocate needs to go to the hospital to help a survivor. That did not seem to be a concern when administration members asked an advocate, who wished to remain anonymous, to leave OUSAP last weekend for drawing attention to the shortcomings in the organization's resources. She called for transparency, and the administration attempted to silence her.
In their reactionary Op-Ed (that their employees probably wrote for them), the administration shared its hopes to move OUSAP out of the tiny basement at the McKee House. How were activists supposed to know the administration was having these discussions when we, the students, aren’t included? How are they going to know what’s best for students when they only talk to us through The Post after we become a burden by bringing attention to something they won’t address?
What would have been said if there were no protests and no outcry from students demanding survivors be taken care of? The administration said it is “offering to work together to solve the collective problem of rape and sexual assault.” But neither I, nor any of my friends who were arrested and are loudly voicing their concerns, have had an official offering.
Let’s be clear: While the administration has insinuated that it will do something about OUSAP, that something is not clear. If we know anything about this administration, it’s that it will attempt to fund OUSAP with the least amount of money possible to make itself look good. This administration should be ashamed that President Roderick McDavis’ bonus this year is the same amount of money that takes to fund OUSAP for a year. Benoit's yearly salary is more than three times OUSAP's budget.
Until it is in writing that OU will fund the program, on OUSAP’s own terms, and that they will provide OUSAP with the proper space it needs, we will be anything but silent.
Jessica Ensley is a senior studying journalism and an active member of F--kRapeCulture. Email her at email@example.com.