Equal Rights Affairs Committee continues discussion on campus policy

At its second meeting of the semester, the Equal Rights Affairs Committee expanded on the issues brought up in its Sept. 27 inaugural meeting: reaching out to students, raising awareness, working on policy, and working with the Oregon Student Association to increase voter registration. ERAC Chair Kaitlin Hoback led the meeting and was joined by Senators Carla Rose Allen, Catherine Everett, and Eli Matz.

Members brought to light upcoming events in a continued effort to create an ERAC presence at university resource center functions. They highlighted events such as the Portland State Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies’ 40th anniversary celebration happening 5:30–9 p.m., Oct. 11 at Smith Memorial Student Union. According to the Facebook page for the event, there will be snacks, door prizes, and a keynote speaker: Dr. Nishant Shahani, a queer studies professor at Washington State University.

PSU’s Disability Resource Center will host monthly meetings for its Invisible Disabilities project from October to June of this year, and on Oct. 17 they will have a screening of the film Being You in Lincoln Recital Hall room 75.

Members also brought attention to the recent Free Bresha movement, a coordinated effort to get charges dropped against Bresha Meadows, a 15-year-old girl who killed her abusive father in self-defense and is consequently being incarcerated at the Trumbull County Ohio Juvenile Detention Center. In upcoming days, events will be held across the country to bring awareness to this case, and Hoback said she hopes that the ERAC could put together its own event.

As a subcommittee of the Associated Students of PSU, members of the ERAC are aware of the need to address the campaign platforms that candidates with the Unite PSU slate ran on last year prior to winning the election. Each committee has issues that its members specifically want to work on; for the ERAC, the two main issues are sexual assault prevention and providing equitable representation. Though these goals will be achieved through a collaboration of all ASPSU members and committees, the ERAC will draw up policy blueprints to address the issues in upcoming meetings.

“The blueprints state specifically what we’re going to work on to address these issues,” Hoback said.

The next step for the ERAC’s drafted policy, “Affirmative Consent and Amnesty for Reporters and Victims of Violent Crime,” is finding a PSU staff member to sponsor the policy and then finally present it to the university policies committee. To get it ready for this final step, ERAC members used their second meeting to go over the wording of the policy with a fine-toothed comb, an endeavor they will continue at next week’s meeting. The policy hopes to protect reporters of violent crimes in an effort to encourage more witnesses to feel safe coming forward.

Drafters changed certain language of the policy to better clarify its meaning and intent. The sections of the policy ERAC members clarified and changed include the “Definitions” section and its wording of the definition of affirmative consent; the “Goals” section about how the policy seeks to make it easier for victims and witnesses of violent crimes to report them and get the help they need; and the “Institutional Responsibilities” section, where the university’s obligations towards the victims, reporters and assailants are outlined.

For more information on the ERAC’s stances and issues, meeting minutes and agendas view its public documents here.