Historic Moments of Black Excellence at Oregon State University

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Student of Color Speak-Out

In 2015, members of OSU’s students of color communities gathered in Gill Coliseum to address concerns and experiences of racism and anti-Blackness on campus and in their lives. The “Students of Color Speak Out”, organized by three queer folx in the community, was a result of a petition that circulated around campus, demanding President Ed Ray and university administration to acknowledge, prioritize, and address the concerns of students of color on campus. In an intentionally unordered fashion, students of color approached the microphone and audience of over 500 students, faculty, and community members, and bravely spoke of their experiences of racism and marginalization at Oregon State and in Corvallis. In an attempt to make the Speak Out more accessible, the university decided to livestream the event online, which drew in more than 3,000 viewers. The urgency and crucial need for racial justice on campus became clear when the video, which was setup to allow anonymous comments, was flooded with violent racist, sexist and anti-Black comments and threats toward the students who were sharing their experiences. Students at the microphone and in the audience followed along in horror, pointing to the comments as exhibits to the very experience that preceded the Speak Out.

The Speak-Out concluded with “a call to action for administration to make institutional changes that move OSU toward being a more socially just and inclusive campus” (Untold Stories, 4). Since then, the university has implemented termly Town Hall meetings on equity and inclusion, created a new position for strengthening diversity and inclusivity across campus, announced constant and immediate dedication to racial justice, and re-named the former Office of Equity and Inclusion to the Office of Equal Opportunities and Access.