Allegations still unaddressed against professor, set to return teaching this summer

People walk outside the front of Waldo Hall at Oregon State University on May 5th.
People walk outside the front of Waldo Hall at Oregon State University on May 5th.
Aisling Gazzo

Oregon State University students from the Women Gender and Sexuality Studies program are still waiting on a response from OSU to address the allegations brought against Associate Professor Qwo-Li Driskill.

In the fall of 2023, allegations against Driskill surfaced that questioned their Indigenous identity. OSU has not yet addressed the allegations. Students say they have been left to organize themselves to bring attention to what is happening.

“We’re at the point where the university is just shuffling us around, saying they haven’t heard about any of these issues, even though they have,” said Emily Robinson, a WGSS master’s student. “I will say that all of these concerns that students have had are on record with (Equal Opportunity and Access) and (Human Resources).”

Recently, students noticed that Driskill is set to return to teach two Ecampus courses during the summer II session for the OSU Corvallis campus.

According to OSU’s class scheduler, Driskill will oversee the thesis courses in the WGSS graduate program in the fall of 2024 at the Corvallis campus.

The director of OSU’s College of Liberal Arts, Larry Rodgers, can’t speak to why Driskill is listed to teach the classes or explain why the classes have been added to the scheduling.

“I’m not aware of scheduling plans this summer,” Rodgers said.

QS 262 Introduction to Queer Studies and WGSS 262 Introduction to Queer Studies are listed in the OSU class scheduler under the 400 classification. This means they will be offered exclusively to students online.

The classes offer instruction about, “Centering itself on activism and scholarship, this course examines homophobia’s and transphobia’s relationship with racism, colonialism, sexism, ableism, classism and other forms of oppression.”

Graduate and undergraduate students of the WGSS program are upset upon seeing that the classes are being offered.

However, Rodgers said he isn’t aware of any “student input” regarding Driskill.

Emily Robinson, a WGSS master’s student said that students have been in contact with Rodgers and Susan Bernardin, director of the School of Language, Culture and Society and the director of the WGSS graduate program.

Since the summer of 2023, a group called the Graduate Leaders for Equitable Education has been trying to get the OSU administration to listen to students, Robinson said about their concerns toward Driskill.

“Many of us have met with them (Rodgers and Bernardin) in the past, the students who originally wrote the first letter back in June discussed it with Bernardin, before it was released,” Robinson said. “So, Larry’s response that they don’t know anything about ‘student input’ is not true. Students have been meeting with them over and over, bringing issues to their attention.”

Robinson said she wants Rodgers and the OSU administration to address these allegations and give the students answers to their concerns.

Robinson spoke about her frustration concerning student’s future careers and academic goals. They’ve been taught by someone who has a “disgraced reputation” and she feels Rodgers and Brenardin don’t take their concerns seriously.

“(Rodgers) responded to us by calling all the issues ‘interpersonal issues,’ even though it’s an issue of Indigenous fraud. It seems to be like no one wants to talk about that,” Robinson said.

Robinson said GLEE and the other student organizers have yet to see their demands met and the lack of communication from OSU has been exhausting.

The students will continue to organize and seek resources outside OSU. Robinson said they’re going to reach out for help to get OSU to address the situation happening and plan what their next steps will be.

One method of organizing that the students have done is through GLEE’s online petition. It has gained over 3,000 signatures since going live last fall.

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