Social Media Storm Around Sexual Assault Accusations at Oakwood University
Social Media erupted in early September after stories of sexual assault on and around the campus of Oakwood University appeared on Twitter. Beginning on September 4, and using the hashtag #OUMeTOO, current and former students began to disclose specific accusations of assault, many calling for law enforcement to become involved. A number of women who shared their reports accused the university of failing to respond appropriately. The Twitter account, Call Them By Their Name, shared stories submitted anonymously by women and included the names of the men they claimed attacked or harassed them (that account, which used the handle @OUMeToo1, has since been deleted). Another user, @theebonygiselle, also shared anonymous stories (warning: graphic details). She encouraged people to flood the university phone lines demanding a statement from the university.
Writing in passive voice
Oakwood post a public response on their Facebook page on September 5 which focused on local resources for reporting sexual assault; however, the post was criticized for being too passive and not addressing the current allegations. The next day, President Leslie Pollard released a statement addressing the emotional impact of the allegations and promising to review Oakwood’s “campus safety and security measures and [their] support services.”
The Byrd has a word
Senior pastor Carlton Byrd alluded to the assault allegations in his September 7 sermon. He noted that sexual abuse is “of the devil.” He added that victims “ought to speak up and say something.” Both of those comments drew initial praise, but seconds later, his remarks quickly drew sharp criticism and accusations of victim-shaming when he warned that false accusations were also “of the devil.” Twitter users angrily responded that only a small percentage of sex charges are “proven to be fake.” Citing a 2010 study on false allegations, critics of Byrd’s sermon pointed out that data shows actual experiences of sexual assault are much more frequent than false accusations. They fear this emphasis on false accusations discourages real victims from speaking up for fear of being labelled a false accuser.
Word on the street is...
This story has drawn a lot of attention from local media. WAAY news spotted the #OUMeToo hashtag and reached out to students to report any assaults. Local news outlets AL.com, WHNT news, WZDX News, and others have also covered the story. The furor on social media seems to have lessened for now, but this story is ongoing and many students, alumni, and Adventists nationwide are waiting to see what Oakwood will do next to address this situation.
East-Central African Division inaugurates new School of Medicine
Extreme Makeover: School Edition
Rwandan President Paul Kagame, GC President Ted Wilson, and various leaders in Africa inaugurated a new School of Medicine in the East-Central African Division (ECD). Eustice Pennicook, dean of the School of Medicine, said the unveiling of this new building, which is housed on the Adventist University of Africa campus in Kigali, is the first of four phases for the university which also include a science complex, cafeteria, and updated student housing. Kagame praised the Seventh-day Adventist Church for making health a pillar of its faith and evangelism, thanking it for aiding to the country’s development over the last 100 years. He promised to provide the land and money to grow the school in the future. President of the ECD, Blasious Ruguri, thanked the GC for helping fund the school by dedicating the 13th Sabbath church offering in 2016 to funding the building project. (Brief background: Adventism typically divides the year into quarters with each quarter having one month with five Sabbaths (instead of four), totaling 13 Sabbaths in each quarter. Some of these Sabbaths include special offerings. It is unclear if the 13th Sabbath referenced was one isolated 13th Sabbath or if it was offering from each 13th Sabbath during 2016.) Ruguri also thanked the Rwandan President for providing a paved road that will make access to the campus easier. Ted Wilson charged the leaders of the EDC to strive for quality education instead of becoming complacent in comfortable facilities. It’s the second of its kind in Africa and the seventh in the Adventist Church worldwide.
AdventHealth opens new “Mission Control” in Florida
Houston! We have a...surgery?
AdventHealth has implemented a NASA-like control center called “Mission Control.” According to Central Florida Division Corporate Communications, it is the nation’s “largest command center of its kind” with a 12,000-square-foot high-tech center and 50 employees which make up AdventHealth’s team of experts, ranging from nurses to EMS dispatcher. This team will monitor patient situations in real-time across all nine AdventHealth campuses. The system also utilizes artificial intelligence to inform decision-making in areas like helicopter dispatch and patient transfers between units and facilities. Jeff Terry, the CEO of Command Centers for GE Healthcare, commented that Mission Control is “raising the bar of artificial intelligence in service of caregivers for years to come.” Some people have challenged AdventHealth’s claims of having the nation’s largest command center, citing that Kettering Health Network launched a similar 17,000-square-foot command center with 75-100 employees in January.
Editors: Ryan Becker, Kevin Christenson, Jill Evans
Contributors: Kristen Browning, Ben Curet, Juan Mora