Students & advocates calling for change in UO sexual assault case

Students at the University of Oregon have vowed to protest every day until they get changes they want on campus, after controversy over how the university handled a sexual assault investigation against three basketball players.

"Doing the right thing should not be this complicated," said Marina Rosenthal, a clinical psychology doctoral student and a member of the UO Coalition to End Sexual Violence. "Keeping our campus safe should not be this complicated. Follow federal law, say that you're sorry when you do the wrong thing, and help us move forward for a safe University of Oregon."

The students said they want a public apology from the administration for "lying about the university's failure to act on a reported sexual assault."

The three basketball players were accused of sexual assault before the NCAA tournament in March but were allowed to play during the tournament and kicked off the team later.

"When the university is made aware of an allegation of sexual violence, the UO immediately began providing support services, but took no action in this case that would, in any way, interfered with the criminal investigation," said UO spokesperson Julie Brown in an email.

Diana Camarillo works with the Oregon Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence in Portland. She said it would be a good idea for schools to immediately suspend student athletes from play as soon as a report of sexual assault against a player is made.

"Let's suspend you first," said Diana Camarillo, with the Oregon Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence. "So, the first thing you're going to do is not be able to play at this point."

"When we're talking about safety, it would probably be best to suspend immediately, pending investigation of outcome," said Camarillo.

The UO Sexual Harassment/Violence Protocol flowchart does not specifically address student athletes, but says that the Dean of Students can take emergency action against a student, for example, a temporary suspension.

The UO Student-Athlete Code of Conduct reads, "Student-athletes are expected to conduct themselves, both on and off campus, in a manner that brings respect to the University of Oregon and its athletic teams."

The Code of Conduct also reads, "If a student-athlete's head coach or the Director of Athletics believes the student athlete has violated the student-athlete standards, they may, at any time, reprimand the student-athlete, suspend or dismiss the student athlete from the team, or impose conditions of of probation on the student-athlete's continued participation on the team."

Camarillo said she also recommends more education and training for school staff on how to implement the policies they already have.

"We have to stand up against rape culture," said Camarillo. "We have to keep educating. We have to keep promoting bystander intervention. We have to keep making universities accountable."