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: Governor Kate Brown urges Oregonians to get vaccinated

15 counties qualify for extreme risk amid rapid surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations

Charles Boyle |‌ Deputy Communications Director

April 27, 2021

Vaccinations key to staying safe, fully reopening the economy: “There are appointments available right now all across the state.” 

Governor partnering with Oregon Legislature for $20 million emergency relief package to immediately aid businesses in Extreme Risk counties 

County health and safety restrictions to be evaluated weekly, with counties remaining in Extreme Risk for a maximum of three weeks 

(Salem, OR) — Due to the rapid spread of COVID-19 in Oregon, Governor Kate Brown today announced updates to county risk levels under the state’s public health framework. With hospitalizations rising above 300 people statewide, threatening to overwhelm doctors and nurses, 15 counties will move to the Extreme Risk level effective Friday, April 30 through Thursday, May 6. In addition, nine counties will be in the High Risk level, four at Moderate Risk, and eight at Lower Risk. A complete list of counties and their risk levels is available here.

“If we don’t act now, doctors, nurses, hospitals and other health care providers in Oregon will be stretched to their limits treating severe cases of COVID-19,” said Governor Brown. “Today’s announcement will save lives and help stop COVID-19 hospitalizations from spiking even higher. With new COVID-19 variants widespread in so many of our communities, it will take all of us working together to bring this back under control.”

Governor Brown is partnering with lawmakers to approve a $20 million small business emergency relief package to immediately support impacted businesses in Extreme Risk counties through the commercial rent relief program.

In an effort to speed up the return to normal business operations, county COVID-19 data will be evaluated weekly for at least the next three weeks. Any updates to county risk levels next week will be announced on Tuesday, May 4 and take effect on Friday, May 7. Counties that improve their COVID-19 metrics will have the opportunity to move to a lower risk level. Counties will remain in Extreme Risk for a maximum of three weeks.

Continued Governor Brown: “The fastest way to lift health and safety restrictions is for Oregonians to get vaccinated as quickly as possible and follow the safety measures we know stop this virus from spreading. I recognize the burden these restrictions place on Oregon businesses and working families. My goal is to lift these restrictions as soon as it is safely possible, and keep Oregon on the path for lifting most health and safety requirements by the end of June so we can fully reopen our economy. But we will only get there if enough Oregonians get vaccinated. There are appointments available right now all across the state.”

Governor partnering with Legislature for $20 million for immediate aid to businesses in Extreme Risk counties, announces updates to outdoor capacity limits

Governor Brown is also partnering with legislators on a $20 million emergency relief package to provide immediate aid to impacted businesses in Extreme Risk counties through the state’s commercial rent relief program.

Governor Brown continued: “After conversations with legislative leaders, I am confident we can move quickly to bring relief to businesses and their employees in Extreme Risk counties. The vast majority of Oregon businesses have followed our health and safety guidance to protect Oregonians from COVID-19, even though doing so has come with an economic cost. This emergency aid will help businesses in Extreme Risk counties.”

In addition, the Governor announced that outdoor capacity limits for bars, restaurants, and other sectors will be raised from 50 to 100 people in Extreme Risk counties, with health and safety measures, including physical distancing, in place.

Added Governor Brown: “We know that the risk of COVID-19 transmission is lower outdoors. I am urging all Oregonians, if you choose to gather with others, keep it outdoors. Indoor transmission is a key driver in the COVID-19 surge that is making renewed health and safety restrictions necessary.”

The Oregon Health Authority will also be working to align Oregon’s outdoor mask guidance with the CDC guidance announced today.

Three-week limit placed on Extreme Risk level, Portland-area hospitals to closely monitor capacity

Under the Risk Level framework, counties move to (or remain in) Extreme Risk when they meet the county metrics for case rates and percent positivity, and Oregon meets statewide hospitalization metrics: COVID-19 positive patients occupying 300 hospital beds or more, and a 15% increase in the seven-day hospitalization average over the past week.

Counties will stay in Extreme Risk for a maximum of three weeks, and will be able to move to a lower risk level sooner if their COVID-19 case rates are brought down in the intervening weeks, or if Oregon moves below 300 statewide hospitalizations or the seven-day hospitalization average percent increase goes below 15 percent.

The Governor has also worked in partnership with Portland metro-area hospitals to ensure systems are in place to closely monitor and manage hospital capacity. Health systems in the Portland area are using the coordinated system developed at the beginning of the pandemic to manage hospital surge capacity, bed space, essential services and non-urgent procedures as needed over the next three weeks in order to preserve hospital beds and critical care capacity.

Continued Governor Brown: “I want to thank hospital and health care leaders for the work they are doing to manage hospital bed space, so that no Oregonian is turned away from receiving the health care they need. Now, I am asking Oregonians to do their part to help stop the spread of COVID-19 in our communities so we can help support our nurses, doctors, and frontline health care workers.”

The Governor has asked hospital leaders to alert the Governor’s Office and OHA immediately if additional measures are needed to preserve hospital capacity.

If, after three weeks, Oregon still exceeds statewide hospitalization metrics and one or more counties still meet the case rates and percent positivity for Extreme Risk, the Oregon Health Authority will evaluate why and make recommendations to the Governor’s Office.

For more information, call Media Contact, Charles Boyle, at 503-931-7773.

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

Press Release: Satisfactory Senate Resolution

ASWOU and WOU Faculty Senate approve the Satisfactory/No Credit grading option

Liz Marquez Gutierrez | ASWOU Senate President

WOU students: 

On behalf of the ASWOU Senate I am excited to share that the E-Satisfactory/NoCredit* grading option will be offered for Winter and Spring of 2021. The S*/NC grading option was offered last spring term to support students adjust to learning in a remote format due to the COVID-19 crisis, however, it was not a grading option for fall 2020 although ~95% of courses were offered online. 

As fall term began, we remained concerned about the mental health and well-being of students, understanding that learning in a remote format during a pandemic continues to be a challenge. In order to address this issue, the ASWOU Senate passed Senate Resolution 6.21 requesting WOU Faculty continue offering students the S*/NC grading option for the remainder of the 2020-2021 academic year. Additionally, Elizabeth Braatz who is a phenomenal student advocate, created a survey to collect student support for the S*/NC grading option to demonstrate how this grading option would greatly benefit students this academic year.

Thankfully, the WOU Faculty Senate voted to approve the S*/NC grading policy for the rest of the 2020-2021 academic year. This effort would not be possible without the support of students who filled out and shared the survey with their peers. I would like to thank Elizabeth Braatz for her incredible work in creating a survey to collect student support for this grading option and for presenting the survey results to the WOU Faculty Senate. I would also like to express my deepest gratitude to the WOU Faculty Senate for listening to students’ concerns and for their support of Senate Resolution 6.21.

On December 29th, 2020, the University Registrar sent an email to students providing more details about the S*/NC grading option. It is highly encouraged that students work with their academic advisor when deciding between S*/NC and A-F grading options for winter term as it may impact financial aid status or admittance to future programs (e.g. nursing school, law school).

We hope this grading option provides students the opportunity to successfully complete their courses as we continue to adjust to a new learning environment.

For more information, contact ASWOU Senate President Liz Marquez Gutierrez at

Press Release: IFC fee autonomy is a win for student voices

President Johnson outlines IFC’s success against obstruction and clears up misinformation about the Incidental Fee

NJ Johnson | ASWOU President

Dear Campus Community,

The ASWOU Incidental Fee Committee will be charging a flat student incidental fee of $150 for winter term to all WOU students and President Fuller has confirmed that this will be collected by the University. This fee funds vital resources and programming such as the food pantry, student government, multicultural groups, and activities-based clubs which, during this pandemic, remain just as essential to the success and well-being of WOU students as ever.

I would like to thank the hundreds of students who took part by giving feedback in this process. While our campus community is a vibrant and diverse group of individuals with different perspectives, the overwhelming sentiment we heard was that students wanted us to protect funding for student jobs, access to the food pantry, multicultural groups and resource centers, student government, and activity-based clubs.

Just as they did earlier this year regarding Fall term’s incidental fee, President Fuller and his office attempted to obstruct this student led, democratic process this term. We filed an appeal with the Higher Education Coordinating Commission, and soon after, Administration officially recognized ASWOU’s fee autonomy regarding our right to fund these student led programs and resources. Amidst a host of other attacks on the rights of our faculty, staff, and students coming from President Fuller, this acknowledgement of the student voice is a huge win for this year.

Given some of the false information that President Fuller’s staff has been directed to spread to students, we wanted to provide some factual context regarding the student incidental fee.  First, this fee is less than the original fee that the vast majority of students would have paid were it not for social distance learning.

Second, while administration has targeted graduate students with the false assertion that this is a change to the structure of fees that Graduate students pay, the fact is that there is no change to whether graduate students take part in paying the incidental fee and are able to benefit from these paces and services it provides. Graduate students are often exploited by administration both as students and as workers, we acknowledge this unique circumstance and reiterate that we as ASWOU are here to fight for your rights and interests.

Third, this fee is the only amount of money you pay into WOU that students have democratic control over. We share the student body’s concerns regarding the cost of tuition and fees at WOU; a large amount of the work ASWOU does is in advancing legislative initiatives to combat the cost of attendance at WOU. Because of our commitment to fighting to keep the cost of attendance at WOU down, we have directed the Oregon Student Association to introduce legislation which will increase transparency and regulation around all fees that students pay, both the incidental fee and the large host of other fees which students currently have no democratic control over.

We encourage students to get involved in the incidental fee process in the upcoming terms through attending our hearings, filling out the survey forms we send out, and contacting ASWOU officials, whose email addresses can be found here. Information and updates can be found on ASWOU social media and We also ask students interested in more transparency around the large amount of fees charged to students at WOU to get involved this winter in working to pass state-level legislation which would better regulate student fees at public universities and colleges in Oregon. If you would like to be involved in the statewide student effort to pass legislation which regulates student fees, please contact Oregon Student Association at for info on how to do so.

Make no mistake that more work lies ahead to protect the legal autonomy students must retain in the process of assessing and distributing incidental fees. The overwhelming majority of students have expressed to us the importance of protecting the areas funded by the incidental fee and the rights students hold over this process. ASWOU will continue to ensure that students are kept updated on these matters and encourage every student to engage in the process for Spring 2021 and the 2021-22 academic year. Remember that when students are heard, students win.

For more information, contact ASWOU President NJ Johnson by emailing at or by phone at (503) 838-8555