Pacific addresses racial sign, harassment

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On Sept. 30, Mark Ankeny, the vice president of enrollment management and student affairs, sent out an email to everyone at Pacific University to remind people that harassment and attacks toward one another will not be tolerated on campus.

In the last three weeks of September, there were three bias-related incidents that were reported at Pacific. The incidents were both verbal and visual and may not have been generated by anyone on campus. A sign was found on the tree near the Cannery Field parking lot. It stated, “Black “Lies” Don’t Matter.” Someone in the community likely posted this sign because others reported seeing a similar sign on the back of a pickup in town to Ankeny. The sign “had overt racial overtones,” Ankeny said.

“One incident involved verbal harassment that was intended to make a person of color feel unwelcome,” Ankeny. “Every educational institution has an obligation to investigate any form of racial harassment because of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This act prohibits discrimination based on a student’s race, color and national origin in schools and colleges receiving federal funds. The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) investigates whenever an educational institution has a history of not complying with this expectation.”

The reason why he decided to make a statement in the email was to bring attention to Pacific’s new porthole that was launched late August on the website. The Support at Pacific feature gives students across all four of Pacific’s campuses access to eight student resources and reporting options.

“In the past, people have not always known where to turn for help when they are facing something, whether it be a sexual misconduct issue or a bias harassment,” Ankeny said. “It’s really about, how do we help people know where to get help going forward.”

Another reason he sent the email out was to draw attention to what is in the student code of conduct because they did not have a clear statement until two years ago. Article III.B.3 prohibits any behavior that is threatening, endangering and discriminatory, making it more clear and easy to hold people accountable.

“I don’t think we have this overt problem or anything around bias of student to student at all, it was more of a timely message given the environment we are living in at the moment to remind people of these elements,” Ankeny said. “That’s why I felt like we should come forth and remind people about responsibility and how we would help people and hold people accountable.”


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