Tess Carter stood face-to-face with Michael Alexander, the university’s interim vice president for global diversity and inclusion, and told him what it’s like to be a victim of rape on the PSU campus.
“It’s been five, six months, and my rapist is still walking around,” said Carter.
More than a dozen Portland State University students stood behind her, fitting themselves into the eighth floor elevator lobby of the university’s Market Center Building with intentions to deliver 1,300 signatures to the PSU’s Title IX coordinator, Julie Caron.
Caron was off, Alexander told them.
“Believe me, I believe your truth,” Alexander said.
Carter said she went through the formal process of filing a complaint to initiate an official investigative process at the university five months ago. She said she was interviewed by the university but then heard nothing back.
“PSU had us in for an interview so we can discuss [the incident] and then we heard nothing from them,” Carter said. “The university has failed women, the university has failed its students, the university has failed men and non-men — it has failed literally everybody.”
Now, students are demanding the university expel a male student accused of raping multiple women and that it suspend individuals being investigated by the university for sexual assault. They say the university engaged in “silencing culture” by imposing code of conduct violations against three students involved in interrupting the accused student’s class on April 30.
“We’re clearly looking to make sure that we fulfill the requirements of Title IX,” Alexander told the students.
“You’ve already failed many times,” one student replied.
Another protestor asked from the back of the crowd: “How many survivors does it take for your guys to know better?”
“There’s no number,” Alexander replied. “I have heard you, and I am here to hear you.”
In response to the protest, PSU said this in a statement:
“Because of a federal privacy law known as FERPA, we cannot disclose the details of any student conduct complaint.
However, we can share that PSU has investigated every complaint of misconduct — including sexual misconduct — that has been brought to the attention of the university’s Title IX Coordinator, Dean of Student Life or other appropriate university officials. Our student conduct process is designed to protect students, comply with Title IX and ensure due process for all parties involved.”
Editor’s note: The story has been updated to clarify Tess Carter’s connection to the protest.