As you may be aware of, since last week’s Senate meeting, the debate over the Forum has turned to a matter of “student safety”. Several people spoke at the Senate meeting about how they felt threatened by members of the Forum’s choice of words, specifically with comments regarding rape etc. Even ASUO President Emma Kallaway has received an e-mail with pictures of her taken by Pacifica members with her comments written below.
Now, although our detractors would beg to differ, the Commentator prides itself on giving fair judgment to situations, especially ones that are sensitive to civil rights. Since the efforts of protesters last week to turn the issue towards student safety, the Commentator has been feverishly trying to uncover examples from students who feel they have been violently attacked–indeed, if such an event had happened, that would call for a serious discussion on the Forum effecting student safety.
Unfortunately, as you can read in Ross’ article, there have been no explicit threats or acts of violence by members of the Pacifica Forum to our student body. Rather, I should say, that if there has been explicit threats, we have not been able to find evidence of it. We have contacted both DPS and the EPD and neither of them have any reports filed about a member of the Pacifica Forum making an explicit threat of violence. Further, those making the claims of violence or threats from the Pacifica Forum have been unwilling to provide evidence or documentation of these events.
My question is this: If you felt threatened–I mean really, truly in fear for your safety on campus–wouldn’t you file a report with campus safety or the EPD? Would you even show up to school at all? Or, as has been the case in the Commentator‘s search for evidence of these threats, wouldn’t you like to oust the guilty parties to members of the media, for all the campus to read and see?
Instead what we are left with is the implicit threats that many students have taken to heart. Indeed, I find myself shocked to find out that Emma Kallaway received an e-mail with pictures of her taken at the Forum. Yet even Kallaway told us that the e-mail, “Was more of an intimidation than a threat.” The same goes for what we were told by one student that a Pacifica member told them to “watch out at night”.
Of course, the connection you have to make here is between actionable and non-actionable threats. I myself have received much worse threats (from people writing on campus computers) than that due to this very blog. I’ve been told that, “If I ever see you on the street I’ll fucking bash your head in”.
Threats are everywhere. Just two years ago, a student filed a report with the Bias Response Team when a multicultural group offered “tickets” to students to “go back to your home country” on Columbus Day. Or who can forget when, in 2001, our very own Student Insurgent decided it wasn’t an “implicit threat” to University of Oregon professors who conducted animal research when they printed the professors’ home addresses and phone numbers alongside a manual that explained the tactics of the radical Animal Liberation Front.
So far, it seems like the Pacifica Forum invites a bunch of mean, old, asshole Nazis who have wild views. The heightened emotional response, as Drew pointed out in his editorial, cannot be linked directly to one side or the other. Is it the Pacifica Forum that started yelling? Or was it the “silent” protesters that decided to yell intelligent things like “Fuck free speech”? The cries that Cimmeron Gillespie and his constituents make–ones of “violent people being drawn to campus by the Pacifica Forurm”–are so far unfounded. Further, at the meeting Ekblad attended last week, he told us that Gillespie told his associates, “We want to make sure we make the issue about safety and not about free speech. Especially to campus media.”
What worries me here is that the Anti-Pacifica people have conveniently found a new tool with which to remove the Forum from campus–the issue of student safety–when their real motivation is that of the Forum’s content. Protesters of the Forum have yet been able to produce legitimate, explicit threats of violence from anyone. Instead they are relying on implicit threats–always a slippery slope considering the subjective nature of the matter.
On Wednesday the ASUO Senate Rules Committee will vote on their resolution that “declares support for moving the Pacifica Forum off the University of Oregon campus”. I have no doubt that the motion will pass, if not unanimously, with resounding force. Although Senate resolutions are merely a way for the ASUO to voice a popular opinion (and is therefore non-binding) it will send a message to the Pacifica Forum that the students of the University of Oregon do not wish to listen to their drivel.
Unfortunately, it will also send a message to University students that their right to free speech isn’t really free at all.