Mount Hood

Press Release: BIPOC hidden figures at Western

Highlighting Elizabeth Braatz, the student behind the Satisfactory/No Credit Academic Policy

Makana Waikiki |‌ IFC Chair

April 24, 2021

Monmouth, OR- Black, Indigenous and Students of Color at Western Oregon University are consistently not given credit on the momentous changes to our campus policies that they led. Not only are they not mentioned in the publication of these changes, but their white counterparts are specifically congratulated for their hard work in creating that change. Often, when students of color speak up and claim the work that they did, they are told that it was a group effort and they are “hogging” the credit. Although there are many examples of this that occurred over the course of the last school year, there is one that cannot be ignored anymore. With the university beginning conversations surrounding the approval or extension of these changes, these incredible students need to be seen. The Satisfactory/No Credit grading option that was offered as an option this year was proposed and passed by Elizabeth Braatz through the faculty senate. 

Elizabeth Braatz is a Black, Hispanic, Native American, LGBTQ+ student here at WOU, Elizabeth also has an auditory processing disorder she was diagnosed with at seven years old. Throughout her time at this university, she has always advocated for students from all different backgrounds to ensure that they are given every opportunity to succeed here at WOU. As a Resident Assistant this year and an active student leader, she saw and heard the concerns and fears of her peers surrounding their success in classes during the pandemic. With so many students forced to take on extra jobs, assist their family and take on increased responsibility and pressure, their academics were the last thing on their minds. Elizabeth knew that if the grading policy remained the standard A through F, that the students here at WOU would suffer. She immediately began collecting statistics, drafting the policy and presenting it to the faculty senate. With the help of Faculty Senate President Leigh Graziano and ASWOU Senate President Liz Marquez Gutierrez, she was able to pass the Satisfactory/No Credit grading option policy for the 2020-21 academic year.

As Elizabeth Braatz has worked closely with the Faculty Senate President Leigh Graziano, we were able to get a quote from the Senate President herself. This is what she has to say regarding Elizabeth’s efforts. “Although it wasn’t mentioned in the Faculty Senate presentation on April 13, the proposal to revise our permanent S/NC policy is indebted to the activism of Elizabeth Braatz. It was Elizabeth’s presentation at the Faculty Senate in fall 2020 that prompted the Faculty Senate to vote to adopt this emergency grade mode again for the rest of the academic year. Learning from this moment, the Registrar brought forward a proposal to revise our permanent S/NC policy so that it is more useful for students and can be another vehicle of student success and retention. But, I think we are in this moment because of Elizabeth’s work, and it’s wonderful to see our policies being revised because of student-led activism.”

This policy allows students to opt in and use the Satisfactory/No Credit option for the courses that they are taking. Students have from the start of the term to the end of the seventh week to opt in. The academic policy is not functional for all programs, majors or courses. It is available based upon the various departments, and their decisions on whether or not they want to provide this option within their department. It is important that students seek advising from their academic advisors to find out if their courses allow for this academic policy, as well as if it is in their best interest to use this option. It is simply an opportunity for students to do what is best for them as we continue navigating through a difficult and challenging time in history.

We were able to speak with Elizabeth Braatz regarding her experience and thoughts about the Satisfactory/No Credit option. She said, “For awhile, I really did not mind being a hidden figure in a sense because ultimately, all I wanted to ensure was that students were given the opportunity to succeed during an extremely difficult and challenging time in our history. I was diagnosed with an auditory processing disorder when I was seven years old, so I am able to understand the stress and difficulty in trying to adapt to new concepts, teaching styles, methods and curriculum. I have worked so hard to be where I am today, and I no longer wanted to go unheard or unseen. It is important for me to have my work be acknowledged, and to no longer be a hidden figure. It is important for credit to go to where credit is deserved.”

This incredible student leader deserves to have their hard work and commitment to student success recognized and appreciated. Without their courage and resilience the support we as students need to succeed here at WOU would not be possible. They are also just one of the hundreds of amazing and influential BIPOC students that have chosen WOU as their home and are fighting for change and inclusion. Our administration is leading us to believe that they are creating these changes, when it is the BIPOC students who pay to be here that are fighting for students and their success.

For more information contact Elizabeth Braatz at and Leigh Graziano  at

Press Release: BIPOC students call on WOU Board of Trustees to meet student needs

Black, Indigenous and Students of Color at Western explain their all encompassing proposal to the WOU Board of Trustees

Makana Waikiki | ASWOU IFC Chair

For Immediate Release

April 3, 2021

Proposal from Black, Indigenous and Students of Color at Western Oregon University Calls on the WOU Board of Trustees and WOU Administration to Meet Student Needs

Monmouth, OR — Black, Indigenous and students of color at Western Oregon University released a comprehensive proposal to the WOU Board of Trustees which they will present at the April 21, 2021 Board Meeting, bringing attention to student needs through funding and re-evaluation of needs that WOU and it’s administration have failed to provide for students, staff, faculty and the community.

The proposal is separated into two categories of student needs at WOU; fiscal and re-evaluation. Over the past several years, students at WOU have shared their frustration due to lack of support through resources from the administration. Students of color continue to be some of the most impacted student groups on this campus and have been advocating for a center on campus that brings them together, that it is a safe space and one that promotes and celebrates the diversity and richness of their cultures. The first fiscal demand is to fund the Freedom Center, a space created by BIPOC students for BIPOC students at WOU. This space will provide study rooms, technology, and a place where students of color can go for support, resources, and most importantly a safe environment on this campus.

Our proposal also addresses the serious need for a post-secondary education at WOU that is affordable, accessible and provides students the resources they need to succeed. The Incidental Fee is an important revenue source that funds vital services, programs, resources, like the food pantry, and employment opportunities for students and staff. These services and programs need to be funded however, it is tied to enrollment and with the decrease in enrollment rates that we continue to witness it leaves areas that provide essential services and resources underfunded. We are asking the Board of Trustees to subsidize the cuts the Incidental Fee Committee (IFC) had to make this year (~$203,000) so that all IFC funded areas that benefit students will be fully funded going into the next academic year.

Through the Incidental Fee Committee’s open hearings, student athletes voiced their concerns that they are in need for new uniforms and gear. There needs to be investments to support the student athletes on our campus that help recruit new students to our campus. We are asking for $122,000 to be allocated to the Student Athletes for their uniforms and gear. This allocation would double each sports’ budget as they are severely underfunded.

This past year we have witnessed increased attacks directed towards communities of color and how this has affected the mental and physical well-being of the students of color on our campus. This university wants to pride itself in its core values of diversity and respect stating that “equity and inclusion are a fundamental basis in human diversity” and yet students of color are the ones demanding and working towards creating the Freedom Center. Students should not be the only group of people on our campus that want to create a safe and welcoming environment; this should be a mission we all strive working towards. The Board can take action to help address this issue by funding a Director of Equity and Inclusion. Funding for this position would be for 2 years and would be hired by a committee of BIPOC students, faculty and staff. This position would address instances of systemic racial and social injustice, support students, staff, and faculty of color in achieving their goals at WOU.

The Board of Trustees must also re-evaluate how faculty and staff are hired. There is a lack of BIPOC representation in the administration, faculty and staff positions. President Fuller must prepare a plan to set a new policy to hire faculty and staff positions, and a plan that includes representation from no less than one BIPOC student, no less than one BIPOC faculty member, and no less than one BIPOC staff member, by the next Board of Trustees meeting. Additionally, the Board of Trustees must reconsider our plan around campus reopening for fall term at their next Board of Trustees meeting, with a dedicated agenda item with 30 minutes of public comment on the matter. The board must also collaborate with ASWOU to hold a series of public forums next Fall 2021, in which students, faculty and staff will be able to provide feedback on the following topics: Campus Public Safety, faculty racism in the classroom, Student Health & Counseling Center, institute first year cultural competency and systematic racism class for all WOU students to take their first year, instituting cultural curriculum into all classes offered for Undergraduate and Graduate degrees in consultation with the Director of Equity and Inclusion, and COVID-19 Response.

This comprehensive proposal from BIPOC students at WOU addresses major concerns WOU students have expressed for years and we urge the Board of Trustees to take action by approving our budget asks and re-evaluation recommendations. It will take all of us — students, faculty, staff, the administration and the Board of Trustees to save our university and restore the level of trust, transparency, accountability, inclusivity and most importantly our sense of community.

For more information, contact ASWOU IFC Chair, Makana Waikiki, at


April 11th, 2021

“We as a community have put our trust in people and systems that don’t deserve it. We are putting ourselves at risk everyday we get up and try to get an education here at WOU. With the increase of hate crimes, the lack of resources for marginalized communities, and increase in the price and difficulty of higher education, we need the Board of Trustees to prioritize our needs. The students of WOU are bringing this proposal forward, of our fiscal and re-evaluation needs that WOU and it’s administration have failed to provide for their students, staff, faculty, and community. It is time for change.”

— Makana Waikiki (she/they) Student Leader and Student Rights Advocate