Efforts are now underway to address the demands of the STEAM Collective, or Students for Transparency, Equity, Accountability through Mobilization. On Thursday, Feb. 21, STEAM held a town hall meeting, in which students read aloud their list of demands to WU administrators.
On Monday, March 4, administrators and members of STEAM gathered for the first time since the town hall. Vice President for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Jade Aguilar facilitated the meeting. The group decided it will now split into separate committees, with each committee tasked with one demand to address.
“We all agreed that it would make sense to tackle each one of these [demands] individually,” said Aguilar. “It’s not a huge move forward, but I think we all agree now on a process, on how to move forward.” She added that most of these meetings will be open to any student who is interested in attending.
Aguilar and Vice President for Student Affairs Ed Whipple agreed that communication between University administrators and students can be improved.
“How do we maintain better lines of communication in the future so that everyone is aware of what’s going on, of what the rising issues might be?” asked Aguilar.
“All of us have pretty much open door policies,” said Whipple of himself and his fellow administrators. “We want to see students. I know that it can be somewhat intimidating to walk into an administrator’s office, but that’s what we’re here for.”
As reported in last week’s issue, members of STEAM received verbal backlash in response to the town hall, some of which came from students affiliated with Greek Life organizations. During the town hall, STEAM member Nell Crittenden (‘21) described an incident that occurred within one Willamette fraternity, in order to convince administrators that a third-party review of Greek Life should occur on campus. Immediately following the town hall, unhappy members of this fraternity, among them IFC President Andrew Choe, verbally challenged Crittenden, an event witnessed by The Collegian.
Earlier this week, STEAM released a statement addressing this response from students. “[T]hese reactions completely ignore that STEAM offered institutional critiques of Willamette University,” the statement said. “STEAM is advocating for institutional change.”
Following the town hall, the Panhellenic Council (PHC) and Interfraternity Council (IFC) released a joint statement that condemned this backlash. The statement was signed by the presidents of PHC and IFC, Julia Fleener (‘20) and Andrew Choe (‘20), respectively.
Aguilar said concerns about backlash were not brought up in Monday’s meeting.