By Gavin Ross
Dean Christopher Rodgers is still under investigation by the department of campus security for actions during RA training (Ram Archives).
The op-ed entitled “In Defense of Dean Rodgers” likely represents the thoughts of many on this campus. As a result, I feel the need to set the record straight and correct those who misunderstand the wrongdoings of Dean Rogers, misunderstand the realities of sexual assault and misunderstand freedom speech.
First and foremost, the main issue is the lack of care and empathy Dean Rogers showed for students and victims of sexual assault on Aug. 18. The purpose of the training was to teach the procedures RAs should follow when reporting Title IX allegations.
This was not the time, nor the place, to talk within a political context. Doing so was inappropriate. Chances are high that there were victims of sexual assault in the room during said meeting. Later this was confirmed based on the reactions of RAs.
Showing these videos without warning shows a profound lack of better judgement, a lack of respect for the victims and a lack of understanding of the gravity of sexual assault. People were not triggered by his presentation of left and right (although a “left” and “right” viewing of sexual assault ceases to exist); they were triggered because he showed victim’s videos that reminded them of their trauma, without warning, without cause, and in doing so, minimized their assaults. He was suggesting that emotional safety was unimportant to the administration.
This is not a topic people need to ‘vigorously engage’ with like would economic policy or gun rights. Some students on college campuses will be assaulted; there’s no other way of looking at it. According to the National Victim Center and Medical University of South Carolina, 94 percent of women meet the criteria for PTSD one month after their rape. In addition, survivors are four times more likely to contemplate suicide according to Medical University of South Carolina. Secondly, Dean Rogers misunderstood the issue of free speech when he called for those who were upset by the video to simply leave the room “maturely” showing insensitivity and not holding the person playing the video responsible for upsetrting others in the room.
Dean Rogers chose to show associate give these videos, then associate these videos with political stances. For this poor choice, he must be held accountable.
Given the actions of the administration regarding the conduct of Dean Rogers, I do not have faith in the administration to handle Title IX investigations. Make no mistake, the actions of Dean Rogers represent gross misconduct and the administration’s defense of his conduct represents a history and culture of similar conduct within the Title IX office. This represents a failure of the university to defend its students.
We must empathize with our fellow students. This is not an inconsequential issue for philosophical debate. Real people have, are and will be hurt. Instead of arguing about left and right and if the problem is big or small, let’s discuss how to best support the victims, how to make them feel safe, wanted and dignified.
Gavin Ross, FCRH ’20, is a math and computer science major from Portland, Oregon.