Faculty votes ‘no confidence’ in Dean Avery, Botterud
Occidental’s faculty body overwhelmingly passed two no confidence resolutions against Dean of Students Barbara Avery and General Counsel Carl Botterud on Monday in an executive session. The motion on the Dean of Students passed with 65 in favor, nine opposed and six abstaining while the Botterud motion passed by a slightly wider margin, according to Faculty Council President Professor Amy Lyford.
Botterud has come under fire for a number of alleged actions regarding the sexual assault issue and recused himself from further advising the college on the matter. Avery has been criticized for her oversight of the sexual assault process over the last few years.
The votes are non-binding but represent the faculty’s position that it no longer has confidence the two administrators can effectively carry out their duties.
Avery did not respond to a request to comment by press time, but Botterud made a statement on the vote.
“The vote came as a complete surprise to me. I was not invited to the faculty meeting and received no notice that the faculty intended to hold such a vote. There are complaints against me by faculty members that are being investigated by an outside expert,” Botterud said in an email. “I do not know why the faculty decided to hold a vote while those processes remain underway. I intend to defend myself in the context of those independent inquiries and trust the process.”
Director of Communications Jim Tranquada also responded to the no confidence resolution in a prepared statement.
“We take the concerns of the faculty very seriously,” Tranquada said. “We’ve hired national experts to help us address the issue of sexual assault on campus and we are taking a series of proactive steps in that regard. Those steps are outlined inMay 1 memofrom President Jonathan Veitch. The College is committed to having the best policies, procedures and personnel in place to allow us to be a model for other colleges to follow.”
The Occidental Sexual Assault Coalition (OSAC) hailed the vote in a blog post, noting that getting the right people in place to handle sexual assault is key.
“As OSAC discovered in filing federalClery and Office for Civil Rightscomplaints, the sexual assault problems at Oxy have been more of a ‘people problem’ than a ‘policy problem,’” the post read. “Oxy can have the best policies and procedures in the nation, but if the administrators responsible for implementing them are unwilling or unable to uphold these policies and procedures, we are still left with a broken institution and system.”
The new development comes on the heels of an open letter sent from the faculty supporting OSAC’s demand for change and committing to work towards a college free of sexual assault that has 135 signatories at last update. The college has sent out an identical letter except for the absence of the phrase “agree with OSAC,” that has been signed by numerous staff and administrators.
On May 1, President Veitch sent a lengthy email outlining the changes the college has made to its sexual assault policies and practices and the work still left to do. In the email, he also released the preliminary findings of the consultants he hired to make recommendations to the college.
OSAC has since responded point-by-point to the recommendations, stating that 16 of the 17 actions and recommendations made were originally proposed by OSAC. But it also noted proposals and demands made by OSAC not included in the announcement including the lack of personnel changes in key positions responsible for sexual assault process oversight during the last few years and the absence of a commitment as of yet to put verbal consent back in the sexual assault policy.