UP hosts 'Building Institutional Courage' event this Tuesday, follow-up discussion Wednesday night

By Hannah Sievert | September 24, 2018 1:35pm
Jennifer Freyd is a professor of psychology at the University of Oregon and will speak at this week's event: “Campus Sexual Violence: Moving from Institutional Betrayal to Institutional Courage.” Photo Submission by Blaine Edens

This week, two events will be held in The Bauccio Commons that may seem well-timed in light of last week’s protest against Fr. Paul Scalia.

On Tuesday at 7:15 p.m., Jennifer Freyd, a professor of psychology at the University of Oregon, will speak at the event, “Campus Sexual Violence: Moving from Institutional Betrayal to Institutional Courage.” 

On Wednesday at 7:15 p.m., students and UP staff can unpack Freyd’s talk and discuss how they relate to it at the event “Building Courage UP.” The event will include panelists and speakers from a number of groups on campus, including Title IX team, Active Minds, Students Against Sexual Assault and ASUP, among others. 

Wednesday’s event will also include small group discussions and shared personal stories of students who have experienced feelings of betrayal or distrust toward the University. 

On Wednesday night, Sarina Saturn and Louisa Egan Brad, psychology professors and the facilitators and organizers of the event, will share data from the survey they’ve conducted for the past few weeks. The confidential survey, which is in effect until noon Wednesday, gauges students’ trust in how the University handles sexual assault cases, how it responds to its errors and whether or not it is supportive of all members of the UP community.

Saturn and Brad plan to take the survey’s results and action ideas from the conversations to members of the administration after the event. 

“We can have conversations but unless we have policies moving forward, those conversations sound like dead ends,” Saturn said. “I’m hoping that through Jennifer’s talk that we might be able to think of policies to at least propose to the administration.”

Freyd is known for her research on institutional betrayal and institutional courage, and how the two affect an institution’s culture.

In an email to The Beacon, Freyd described institutional betrayal to mean “harm done by an institution to those dependent upon the institution,” including “an institution failing to respond effectively to sexual violence that occurred in that institution’s context – and sometimes an institution even creating conditions that are conducive to sexual violence.”

The presence of institutional courage, though, is the antidote to betrayal, Freyd said. 

“(Institutional courage) includes institutional accountability and transparency, as when institutions conduct anonymous surveys of victimization within the institution: Institutional betrayal can be replaced by institutional courage,” Freyd said in the email. “Courageous institutions refrain from punishing the whistleblower. Rather, cherishing the whistleblower is what a courageous-- and wise-- institution does.”

Brad said she sees the administration as receptive to the input from these discussions.

“I believe that the administration has their hearts in a place where they’re trying to improve the university climate, and so I think they’ll be really interested in the results of the survey and in people’s ideas, to hear directly from students,” Brad said. 

Brad had the idea to invite Freyd to campus after the controversy surrounding the Wally Awards last spring. She heard Freyd speak at a conference, and pitched the idea of bringing Freyd to campus at a faculty forum in April. The Garaventa Center signed on as a sponsor after Karen Eifler, the co-director of the Garaventa Center, heard about the proposed event. 

“It’s going to be very productive,” Saturn said. “(We need to) have a brave conversation about -- maybe there’s a disconnect, maybe we need to listen to make sure we are addressing all of these issues that are in the hearts and minds of the audience, so that we can do the right thing.”

Freyd’s talk is sponsored by a number of groups on campus, including the Garaventa Center, UP athletics, UP’s psychology department, Residence Life, Active Minds, among others. For more information about the talk, email the Garaventa Center at garaventa@up.edu.

Hannah Sievert is the Editor-in-Chief for The Beacon. She can be reached at sievert19@up.edu.