Creating Change and Community: Histories of Activism at OSU

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“Creating Change and Community: Histories of Activism at OSU” is a pop up exhibit that highlights historical moments of student activism at Oregon State University. Each panel includes background information, an overview of strategies used, and the impact and result of the student activism. The exhibit is intended to celebrate student speech activity and activism at OSU. Celebrating every moment would be impossible; this exhibit features specific moments and is intended to represent diversity across time, strategies, and issues. We hope to expand the exhibit with additional examples of activism.

The exhibit “popped up” by the SEC and MU plazas during weeks 1 and of fall term 2018…

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The stories featured include:

  • The Black Student Union Walk Out ~ As a local embodiment of the national Civil Rights Movement during the 1960s, in October of 1968, fifty-five OSU students established the Black Student Union (BSU) with the mission to give Black students a united voice regarding their educational experiences and needs. Just a few months later, a conflict between the head football coach and a player named Fred Milton, a black student athlete, sparked the newly formed organization into action. As a result, the BSU walk out of 1969 forever changed race relations on OSU’s campus.
  • African Students’ Association Anti-Apartheid Movement ~ Apartheid in South Africa, from 1948-1994, was the legalized policy of segregation and political, economic, and social discrimination based on race. In the 1970s, the United Nations condemned apartheid as a violation of human rights, and various organizations in the international and United States sports community barred South Africa from athletic competition. In the early 1980s OSU’s African Students’ Association voiced its opposition to the OSU wrestling team’s connections, specifically the head coach’s relationship, to the South African Wrestling Federation. Those in favor of the relationship argued that sports and politics should remain separate, while those in opposition argued that the OSU wrestling team’s actions were indirectly condoning apartheid.
  • Declaration of Indigenous Peoples’ Day in Corvallis ~ For many years Indigenous communities have condemned the celebration of the federally recognized holiday “Columbus Day” to commemorate Christopher Columbus, a man who, along with his contemporaries, launched an era of genocide and slavery. Instead, Indigenous communities have called for the recognition and celebration of the Indigenous peoples thriving in the Americas prior to Columbus’ arrival, as well as in the present day. On Monday, October 12, 2015 the City of Corvallis celebrated Indigenous Peoples’ Day for the first time and became a part of the larger national movement to honor the history and living legacies of the first peoples of the Americas.
  • Students of Color Speak Out ~ Inspired by the students at the University of Missouri, on November 16, 2015, members of OSU’s students of color bravely shared experiences of racism endured throughout their lives and as part of their educational experiences at OSU. The “Students of Color Speak Out” in Gill Coliseum was the result of a petition to President Ed Ray to address the students’ need for the university to prioritize their safety and well-being. The “Speak Out” concluded with a call to action for the administration to make institutional changes to move OSU toward being a more socially just and inclusive campus.

To access the exhibit PDFs, be sure to download the file when prompted.

The exhibit is a part of OSU’s “We Have Work to Do” campaign, #wehaveworktodo

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We Have Work To Do encourages all Oregon State community members to find their roles as essential contributors to the creation of an inclusive and equitable university.

The exhibit was curated by members of the Coalition for Supporting Activism & Protected Speech at OSU. Members include representatives from ASOSU; Office of Student Life; Office of Institutional Diversity; School of History, Philosophy, and Religion; OSU Libraries Special Collections and Archives Research Center; Diversity & Cultural Engagement; Advancing Academic Equity for Student Success; Educational Opportunities Program; the Center for Civic Engagement; Student Experiences & Engagement; and the Ethnic Studies Program.

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