On Sept. 21, Pacific’s administration held a Zoom forum to publicly address the issue regarding former university student Carrie Taveira, during which students felt that they were continuing to be silenced.
On Sept. 16, Taveira posted an open letter to students at Pacific, alleging she was raped while attending Pacific in 2016 and experienced harassment and discrimination afterward which led to her suicide attempt in fall 2019. A website called Pacific Doesn’t Care was created in support of Taveira with a demand letter which called for the University to act on several issues. Over 1,000 current students, former students, alumni, and community members have signed the demand letter at the time of this writing. In a later press release to the student body on Sept. 25, the university “categorically denies the allegations made in the 12-page letter published by the former student.”
“It is simply not true that the university’s faculty and staff denied her the right to report an assault, failed to investigate a report of assault, or acted with racial bias in this situation,” the administration wrote in their Sept. 25 email.
The press release (which does not name Taveira) also stated that a former student has made multiple “threats of gun violence” directed at faculty and staff at Pacific within the past year and a half.
During the hour-long Zoom meeting on Sept. 21, Hallick spoke alongside other University staff in regards to Taveira’s letter and the various responses it has spurred. Every attendee of the meeting was muted, and questions that were submitted via chat or the school’s website were filtered through moderators.
Students have said that the meeting with the president explained what Pacific’s system is when it comes to sexual assault and mental health, rather than addressing Taveira’s accusations and the specific circumstances at hand.
“It seemed like they were cherry picking questions that they could answer without admitting fault, while ignoring the questions that were more direct with holding Pacific accountable,” freshman Rhiannon Harris said. “None of my questions were answered, nor were many of my friends’ questions answered either. The few promises they made felt empty and hollow.”
Additionally, students felt that the meeting was broad in that the university solely reiterated its limitations in what they could say because of legal reasons and security issues.
“The whole Zoom call and tone that the panel members used felt very detached from the issue,” freshman Allison Wills said. “It was hard to hear any emotion or notions that they truly cared for the student body and their well being.”
For freshmen like Harris and Wills, the Sept. 21 forum was a way for them to understand the situation better and learn about what the administration is doing to ensure the safety of their students and spread awareness for the issue.
“I don’t think this Zoom was beneficial to the students concerned unless their intent was to fire everyone up even more than they already were. I think it just enraged the students and alumni more than anything,” Wills said.
In light of the recent developments, students have started to question their decision to come to Pacific. Their views on the school’s integrity when it comes to sexual assault and racism have changed due to the adminstrative action in this case.
“As a freshman, the decision to go to Pacific is still heavy on my mind. When I read Carrie’s letter, the first thing I thought was ‘How could I pick a school that would allow this to happen?’” Harris said.
Similarly, Wills has started questioning how the situation would be handled if an incident like this happened to herself or someone she knew.
“I thought that by being in a small private college, I would be getting resources and support from the community in the school. Now, I find myself asking questions like, ‘Will I be supported or believed? Would they try to sweep it under the rug to keep a good image of the university even if it wasn’t as complex as the case with Carrie?’” Wills said.
The controversy has sparked doubts within the minds of students across campus, and concern that Pacific may cover up the case without solving the real issue.
“My biggest concern is that Pacific will implement a small policy to try and keep the students docile without creating any actual change,” said Harris.
Wills said she is worried that the university and administration will do whatever they need to to get this issue resolved and under the table as soon as possible without addressing any of the real concerns and issues that this situation brought to light. “I’m scared that everything will go back to normal and be ‘happily ever after’ when in reality, there are some desperately needed changes in how they handle cases such as sexual assault or racial bias,” Wills said.
Following the initial release of Taveira’s letter, support from the student body has been prominently shown around campus. The spirit bench has been painted with messages defending Taveira and holding Pacific administration accountable.
“When people began to read Carrie’s letter, you could feel a shift in the atmosphere,” Harris said. “It’s been amazing to have conversations about rape and racism specifically in the context of school systems.” — Chandler Fleming
As our goal is to lift up the voices of the community at Pacific, we welcome any comments, feedback, or concerns you may have regarding this or any other situation. Feel free to write us a letter with your thoughts and opinions and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo: Jefferson VanDomelen, 2022; Yadira Baltier-Moreno, 2022 (Chandler Fleming)