University of Oregon officials have decided that the Pacifica Forum is no longer allowed to hold meetings within the EMU for the rest of the year. University Administrator Dr. Paul Shang informed last nights crowd several times throughout the senate meeting that the UO’s Administration has banned the controversial group from holding meetings in the EMU for remainder of the year.
That was just the beginning of an ASUO senate meeting that had to be one of the most emotional and intense senate meetings this school year. Over 70 students attended the meeting pushing the maximum occupancy of the Walnut Room to the limit, making a few onlookers watch from the windows. The new resolution stated that the Pacifica Forum should remove themselves from the UO’s campus. The resolution was amended later to state that the students no longer want the Pacifica Forum gathering on campus.
Before the proposal was presented the ASUO allowed for 20 minutes for a guests speakers list. Several audience members declared that they feel unsafe on campus. Ashlie Watts a student at the University of Oregon declared that “I’m from Southern California and I never experienced blatant racism until I came to Eugene.” BSU president Michael Reta declared that BSU members do not feel safe on campus.
The issue of campus safety was at the heart the argument for the resolution. People who presented the resolution brought up several safety issues citing one instance of a Pacifica Forum member bringing a knife to campus, several instances of protesters being targeted by Pacifica Forum members on fliers and several instances of harassment through E-Mail from members of the forum.
The senate got very emotional in debating whether or not this resolution would infringe people’s right in free speech. ASUO Vice President Getachew emphatically exclaimed that “This is not an issue of free speech, this is an issue of safety.”
The administration is hesitant on making a quick decision on whether or not to remove the group from campus entirely. Dr. Robin Holmes stated. “We want to make sure that we can protect the institution.” It seems that the administration is going to take a while on making a decision on whether or not to remove the Pacifica Forum entirely from campus. This is largely in part because removing the group could be in violation of the 1st Amendment.
The resolution will be voted on at next weeks senate meeting.