After the controversy concerning the Red Cross blood drive held at McNeal Pavilion on March 31, the Associated Students of Southern Oregon University senate met Tuesday, April 15 to discuss the matter with Athletic Director Dennis Francois, Red Cross representative Christina Dunlap and Vice President of Student Affairs Jonathan Eldridge.
Several members of the SOU community including the softball team, Student Athlete Advisory Committee, Women’s Resource Center, Responsibility Education and Community Transformation group, Gender Sexuality Union, Oregon Student Public Interest Research Group, Commuter Resource Center, Veterans Affairs and the Residence Hall Association, among others, were in attendance.
Katherine Gohring, a sophomore, made her voice heard at the meeting. Many thought the meeting was about the presence of the American Red Cross on campus.
"It’s not about the Red Cross; it is about the practice of the discrimination. It is not okay to bring a discriminatory practice on campus," said Gohring.
The Red Cross ban stems from procedural questions asked to donors. Men are asked if they have engaged in sexual intercourse with other men, and women are asked if they have had intercourse with men who have previously been with other men.
Discussion was held over the actual definition and relevancy of a Red Cross ban, as well as the motives of SAAC and Francois in hosting a blood drive on campus without seeking consent with ASSOU senate and President Monique Teal as those in the past have done.
Francois had a chance to answer questions and to clarify his actions regarding the athletic department’s decision in hosting a blood drive on campus. Francois claimed he was not aware that there was a ban on McNeal Pavilion premises.
"It was my understanding, due to a conversation with a former administrator here, that the blood drive banned on campus pertained to the student union," Francois said. "I did not knowingly violate this policy."
"I should have solicited a more clear response from the administration. In terms of communication, I take full responsibility for that. For this I apologize," Francois said. "Our intentions for the blood drive were by no means meant to be derogatory or disrespectful to any groups on campus."
SAAC representative for football Anthony Scolamieri addressed the gallery and acknowledged the repercussions of the blood drive.
"I do apologize," Scolamieri said. "[SAAC] did not look into it thoroughly."
There were many who still pursued more answers and information in light of the apologies by Francois and SAAC.
Sen. Christina Thuerwachter commented, "There’s a reason we have this ban as a student body. Our anti-discrimination policy is important to us," Thuerwachter said.
"It really is puzzling to me that there would be [a] no discrimination policy on one part of campus but not on another," said Veterans Services Coordinator Carolyn Shirley.
Despite that ASSOU and administrators have upheld the five-year precedence of the Red Cross ban in the past, Eldridge said that he could not find a written document known as the "Red Cross ban."
"I’ve yet to actually see anything that actually says what senate passed [five years ago]," Eldridge said.
Sen. Steve Ryan reminded the senate and gallery that this is not the first time a written document has not been found and alluded to possible misplacement of the document.
"There’s been a long history of not being able to find paper work [in student senate]," Ryan said.
Sen. Taylor York commented, "Although there is no resolution, there is a five-year precedence that administration has upheld. Historical precedence supercedes a paper trail."
Senate passed a motion to uphold the ban of Red Cross blood drives on campus and enter in a written record to avoid further miscommunication. Senate will discuss the matter further at 6 p.m. on Tuesday in SU 313. All students are welcome to attend.