On Oct. 24, several unauthorized fliers titled “This is Bellevue College” were found posted in the women’s restrooms on campus. The flyers’ contents dealt with the current Bellevue College sexual assault lawsuit. They were quickly taken down by public safety, and a statement was released by President Jerry Weber that detailed the reasons for such swift action. The President also sent a campus-wide email, detailing steps that Bellevue College is taking to ensure the safety of students.
The fliers were altered copies of an article by Lynsi Burton, a SeattlePi reporter, that detailed the specifics of the current lawsuit. Entire paragraphs of the original story were omitted, and the content of what was printed was edited for tone and emphasis. The offender’s name and the offense committed were highlighted with significantly larger font sizes. The flier declared dissatisfaction with the college’s failure to enact meaningful change. Bolded at the bottom of the flier read: “Bellevue College Has Failed To Respond.” Lynsi Burton was not immediately available for questioning for her response to her article being used this way.
In an email that gave general information about the content of the fliers and reasons for the college’s rapid takedown of the papers, President Weber said, “The fliers, in addition to being unauthorized by the college, are painful for those who have been impacted by sexual violence.”
The Director of Public Safety, My Tran, could not comment on the specifics of an investigation into the fliers, due to its ongoing nature. However, Tran did have information for BC students about what should be done if fliers like this are found around campus again. “The most important thing is for students to call us if they notice anything that doesn’t appear to be official. We really appreciate it when folks let us know. They can call us directly at (425) 564-2400, or report it online at www.bellevuecollege.edu/reportconcerns.”
Tran also had information about how to determine if a flier was approved or not. “If you take a look at the fliers or posters on the bulletin boards, you’ll notice a stamp with a date and initials of the person who approved it. The other thing to look for is if the flier doesn’t identify the person or organization disseminating it.” If there are any questions about the validity of a flier, a call to Public Safety’s office will have someone over to inspect the offending poster. Public Safety’s first priority is the immediate safety of the students. Tran, when asked about sending personnel to validate posters, responded with, “We’re happy to check it out.”
Last year, the accused faculty member was removed from campus, following the civil suit brought against the state and college. However, that was just the beginning of Bellevue College’s reactions to the lawsuit. On Nov. 5, President Weber sent out a new email that detailed current action that Bellevue College is taking to protect students and faculty, and prevent future sexual violence or harassment.
The email explained that Bellevue College has been working with sexual assault recovery experts LifeWire and the King County Sexual Assault Resource Center to develop action plans and procedures to “rebuild the trust that has been broken.” Future plans include mandatory inclusionary training for the President’s Cabinet and the creation of a community action statement to, “guide us in creating a climate where faculty, staff and students feel safe and heard.” The Title IX and Human Resource offices will also create an integrated system to increase communication and shorten response times to complaints.
President Weber’s email also claims that BC has already taken several steps forward in its plan to make the campus a safer place for students. Administration changes have been made to ensure a “culture of safety and inclusiveness.” BC has also made updates to Policies 1440 (Discrimination, Harassments and Retaliation) and 1450 (General Complaint Resolution), to ensure they are “more consistent with the requirements of the Office for Civil Rights and BC Student Rights.”
Bellevue College has recognized that there were flaws in the system and are currently working to improve.