Members of OU’s Student Union gathered in Cutler Hall, which houses the office of OU President Roderick McDavis, Friday afternoon to protest “the university trying to shut down the Survivor Advocacy program,” according to a post rallying supporters for the protest by Rachel Baker, a sophomore studying social work.
Concern from Student Union members arose after OUSAP’s former program coordinator, Delaney Anderson, took a job outside of the university.
Since Anderson’s absence, OU has not posted a listing to fill the position, Bobby Walker, a junior studying women’s, gender and sexuality studies, said.
Protesters maintained that without Anderson, there were no more confidential reporters left at OUSAP.
“They’ve done away with what SAP is supposed to do,” Ryan Powers, a junior studying philosophy said. “SAP doesn’t serve its purpose of assisting survivors.”
“The University is not shutting down the SAP program,” Venable said. “To the contrary, it has taken short term measures to address what has been identified as immediate needs and its next steps are focused on strengthening and fortifying the program and the services it provides to the clients it serves.”
Protesters gathered at OU’s eldest building at 3:00 p.m. and staged a sit in where they discussed their demands.
The list included suspending OUSAP temporarily until a new director is chosen, that an interim director be appointed in the meantime, that SAP be adequately funded and that SAP stay confidential, Walker said.
“We recognize that this is a big gap… It’s not going away, it’s coming back” Interim Vice President of Student Affairs Jenny Hall-Jones said.
Hall-Jones added that until the university can find a permanent replacement, officials are trying to find interim replacement that is licensed to be a confidential reporter.
At about 4:45, 15 minutes before Cutler closed, an OUPD officer informed protesters that they needed to leave or they would be arrested.
Protesters exited Cutler Hall with 30 seconds to spare.
As of about 4:45 p.m., protesters were planning to spend the night on College Green.
“We would essentially set up a tent city,” Walker said. “We stay until our demands are met or there’s commitments to our demands.”