by Alex Slusher
On October 25th, The Oregonian published an article to its front page that shocked members of the OES community.
The article stated that a fired employee of the Episcopal Diocese of Oregon had filed a $845,000 lawsuit against Michael Hanley for assaulting a female priest and misusing the money donated by Mayor Ted Wheeler’s late grandmother. Michael Hanley is the elected bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Oregon, and therefore serves as the Chairman of OES’ Board of Trustees. His full biography can be found on the OES Leadership page.
In the weeks following the publishing of the article, personal responses to the article and its publicization of the accusations varied. Shock, vindication, anger and uncertainty were among the emotions felt around the OES community, while the lack of a public statement from administrators at OES caused even more of a disconnect.
While some members of the community (both students and teachers) were curious to hear OES’ response to the accusations, others were completely unaware that the accusations had even been made.
As far as the investigation is concerned, no decisions have been reached. The Oregonian stated that the original complaint was dismissed after an investigation by the Protestant Episcopal Church and the Standing Committee of the Diocese of Oregon, however it must also be noted that according to a quote on OregonLive from the victim of the assault’s lawyer, the investigation was led by a friend of Hanley’s, and Matarazzo (the victim’s lawyer) thus classified the investigation as “problematic.”
It must be noted that while Mr. Hanley is not involved in the day to day operations of OES, his position at the school still makes him an important representative of its values. His photo is first among many on the OES leadership page, and he is often a speaker at the Belltower ceremony on the first day of school and at senior commencement in June.
But no clear decision regarding Hanley’s trial has been made as of yet, and as a result, it is important to observe the due process of the justice system. One should also note that the school is in a tough position when it comes to deciding whether or not to release a statement. Making a statement about the Hanley accusations creates a strong link between the school and Hanley, a link which in many ways is not explicit, while not making a statement charges the administration with an already perceived lack of communication to students and/or obfuscating or withholding information. Both of these actions have positive and negative impacts associated with them, which, again puts the school in a very difficult situation.
Regardless of whether a statement is released , many students have requested a platform where students can be kept up to date and discuss issues such as the Hanley accusations. When a public, non-confidential event that involves our community occurs, it is important that OES provide better systems of communication, so students can discuss these issues with themselves and those who run the school.
Ruby Aaron 18’ noted that a possible solution for this communication issue could be “a space where administrators and students can engage in regular conversations about the happenings of the OES community.” In this way, current events at OES can be discussed without placing OES administrators in a difficult spot as to whether or not to make a formal announcement.
The platform could be in the form of an online discussion, weekly meetings, or open conversations with administrators such as division and school heads. Whatever the platform for communication and discussion ends up being, OES clearly needs a better way for students to feel like they can make their grievances heard and discuss the issues that surround the school, the country, and more.
The Dig will have more on both the allegations against Hanley and the push for more open conversation as the stories unfold.
Thanks for reading.