There is a mismatch in higher education between diversity/equity/inclusion (DEI) verbiage, and reality. Institutions often commodify these values for recruitment and funding, while actors in academia often espouse these values to advance their careers rather than improve the lived realities of under-represented groups in academia, particularly in scientific fields. Unfortunately for everyone, performative allyship is encouraged and rewarded.
In 2021, while I was a PhD candidate at the Department of Integrative Biology (housed in the College of Science), I filed a civil rights lawsuit against Oregon State University and instigated policy changes when I settled my case out of court. I had language changed within the student code of conduct to reflect updates to the state of Oregon's constitution, which make it unlawful to impose non-disclosure agreements on victims of discrimination in work settings. It is impossible to create equitable and just academic communities without the input, voices and experiences of groups of people that have historically been excluded from academic circles. I am really pleased that university policies are attempting to keep up with state laws.
In this settlement, OSU paid me a sum of money which did not completely cover my legal fees. I had to obtain additional funding from AAUW's (American Association of University Women) Legal Advocacy Fund to be able to afford my legal fees. The excess funds that I received from this case will go towards setting up the Beaver DHAM fund for minority retention at Oregon State University. I want to lower barriers for women of color at OSU to exercise their civil, employment and educational rights. I truly believe my department, college, and institution can and will Be Better Beavers 🦫 and I look forward to being a proud alum of OSU.
Institutional Betrayal, Institutional Retaliation and Institutional DARVO are not uncommon, and I highly recommend anyone engaging with their institution's Title IX compliance entities to be familiar with these concepts and the insidious harm they cause. If you are experiencing similar situations and are in need of resources, please reach out to me and I will try to help. I cannot offer legal advice but I can try to be a source of support in other ways. You may also email me for court documents if you are unable to find them online.