This is a guest piece submitted to the Oregon Commentator by a student. Unfortunately, by the time we received it we did not have space for it. We have instead chose to post it to our blog as the content is time sensitive. Be advised that the student is not a member of the Oregon Commentator and their views do not represent the editorial position of the Oregon Commentator.
*Note: I am not representing the interest of either opposing faction in terms of this issue: the Pacifica Forum, or its protestors. I represent the legal system applicable to all persons of this country as defined by the institution of the UO’s Code of Conduct, the Oregon State Constitution and the Federal Constitution. I am a realist; I hope I can convince readers to be realists with me.
There seems to be a general misunderstanding by the Pacifica Forum protesters about the causality and validity of their protest. The Pacifica Forum has become notorious for housing uncommon, extremist ideological perspectives that few of us share or respect. Speakers at Pacifica have denounced Judaism, preached hate, and lashed out at community members: they have been specifically praised and acknowledged by neo-Nazi organizations and the NSM (though it is important to point out that the Anti-Hate Task Force, the group leading the protest against PF, has been praised and acknowledged by neo-Communist organizations). But, in order to objectively and dispassionately review the behavior of the Pacifica Forum, as is necessary for legal dispute like banning them from government property, it is important to translate and apply our laws to this organization, not just attack them on morality and personal emotion before litigation is announced. Unfortunately for many protesters, our laws protect this organization.
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.
Here is video of last Friday’s Pacifica Forum protest. The camera work and audio is a little off but the ability to see the ruckus is still there. If you look closely you can see the OC news team in action, enjoying the anarchy.
From: Robin H. Holmes, Vice President, Division of Student Affairs; Charles Martinez, Vice President, Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity; Frances Dyke, Vice President, Finance and Administration
Over the last few weeks, faculty, staff, students and community members have expressed increasing concern about the presence of the Pacifica Forum on campus. Student leaders are concerned about personal safety and the well-being of our campus. We take these concerns very seriously.
In response, the Pacifica Forum’s reservation in the Erb Memorial Union (EMU) will be transferred to a different location for the remainder of this academic year. The alternative location, currently Agate Hall, will provide better security options for the campus, recognize the community rather than student nature of the Pacifica Forum, and provide a larger venue when necessary. We will continue to monitor and review this decision.
University administration and senior academic leadership are in the process of revising its facilities use policies. The goal is to clarify facility use on the University of Oregon campus and how and when university activities will be held by a university or outside group.
Students and community members may exercise their right to be heard, in support of or in protest, within the University’s time, place and manner expectations. The Division of Student Affairs, ASUO, Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity and the Department of Public Safety will continue to work collaboratively and diligently to ensure safety for all involved in peaceful, non-violent rallies and protests.
Use of space on campus to hold an event does not mean that the University endorses it.
As a public institution, we value free speech and academic freedom. As an academic enterprise, it is appropriate for us to debate the boundaries and expectations of free speech. Our primary mission is the advancement of student learning, research and service. Activities that occur on our campus should emanate from these core goals and must not jeopardize safety or disrupt our educational and workplace environments. When they do, it is our responsibility to respond.
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.
Yesterday we placed a Commentator distribution rack in the upstairs hallway of Lillis leading to its largest lecture hall. Not 24 hours later we received a message from the facilities administrator from the Lundquist Business College about its placement. According to the facilities representative the “Dean of the College” has decided where student publications will and will not be allowed. Amazing such an important man has so little to do that he makes such decisions. But I digress.
Evidently, the distribution rack is also not allowed upstairs because, “We have to move it every time we clean the floors.” The facilities representative wasn’t too pleased with me when I sarcastically replied with, “Oh no! 4 feet over to the left! And back again!” At that point in time he said, “Look, you can either move it or we’re gonna have to move it for you.”
Needless to say, I told him I thought it was against the University of Oregon’s mission and the mission of the ASUO to deny campus publications better distribution to its students, especially in such a high volume spot that is an exact mirror of the little corner that distribution racks are in just one floor down. He told me it wasn’t meant to be, “Anti-Commentator.” To which I replied with, “I wasn’t suggesting that. Don’t make that jump. All publications should be allowed to distribute near an enormous lecture hall.”(Although it should be mentioned that former Commentator publisher Guy Simmons told me he had quite the difficult time getting a rack in that building when it opened. They only wanted to allow the Emerald.)
I suppose we will be moving the rack. Thanks to the business school for, once again, proving they aren’t a bunch of douches.
Not Sarah Michelle Geller or Sarah Jessica Parker, but Eugenes own favorite Sarah Palin! According to the Register Guard, she’ll be at the Hilton Eugene April 23 to “speak to the faithful”. My question is whether they’ll have the meeting in the conference center or if they’ll be able to fit everyone in Sarah’s hotel room.
From what the article says, Palin’s coming as a keynote speaker for the republican annual Lincoln Day Fundraiser (they’ll be a few months behind by April 23). Republican Party Leaders have been working for almost a year to bring her to Eugene.
No information was disclosed as to how much it cost the party to bring Palin to Eugene, or how much seating at the convention will cost. Interested Republicans can sign up by calling 541-342-4166.
Tonight there was a Pacifica protest meeting at Cafe Roma. The Commentator was a seemingly unwelcome addition to the meeting when it was stated by one of the Black Tea Society affiliates wrapped in a particularly douchey bandana that, “Contributors to the Oregon Commentator have voiced their support of free speech by ANY means necessary.” This seemed a bit absurd to me. I believe the blog comment (not a staffer’s post) was:
“OC editors, I respect you: Call me on it if I’m wrong to be frustrated with the funding side. I support free speech, and would, indeed, fight to the death to protect the PF’s right to it. (Well, maybe not Marr. But the others? Sure.)”
The protesters on Friday were disorganized to say the least. They could not agree on what it was that they were protesting, let alone whether they were to be silent or disruptive. Fortunately, this was first thing on the agenda.
Cimmeron Gillespie wanted to emphasize that protesters against the forum should not associate their cause with the question of free speech. Gillespie made it very clear that the reason for the meeting was to plan an effective protest against what they believe to be a narrow-minded group with ties to one or more groups, such as Volksfront and Stormfront, who have an alleged history of violent bigotry.
“Again, this is a campus and student safety issue,” Gillespie continued. He then ran us all through the plan of attack for their protesting of the next Forum topic: Neo-Communism and the Anti-Hate Task Force (which, supposedly, targets one of Eugene’s own Lane County Board members. Pictures of him and other protesters from last Friday appear on the fliers). The plan consists of three parts:
1. Framing – Emphasize safety, not free speech.
2. Administration – Gillespie described the UO administration as, “A giant tractor with no engine. We have to pull and push and move it how we want.”
3. Forum – Develop a reasonable argument with constructive questions that will lead Billy Rojas and his followers to either “hang themselves up,” or realize the error of their ways.
Emma Kallaway put in her two cents, using her experience with the administration to her advantage. She thought that this whole fiasco is even more complicated than it seems. The fact that the University of Oregon is a public institution funded by the state and part of OUS (Oregon University System), iterates that the buck doesn’t stop with Dick Lariviere. Furthermore, to change policy regarding alumni, old professors and rights to the usage of OUS property is asking quite a bit.
As for the Pacifica Forum, hopefully they will have a chance to exercise their right to free speech this Friday. Personally, I can’t speak to the extent of their connections with violent groups and whether or not they are using Pacifica as a front for their “socialist recruiting machine.”
There will also be a Senate meeting in the Walnut Room on Friday at 7pm. The first ten minutes will consist of four people recalling their individual altercations with Pacifica attendees. The rest of the time is reserved for questions.
Those wishing to learn more about the issue are encouraged to attend and not ignorantly yell and scream like a fucking idiot.
The new addition to the climbing wall. On the upper right is the end of the old wall.
The Rec Center is hoping to open their new rock wall this tuesday for classes. According to Dennis Munroe, construction should be complete soon but the wall won’t open for recreational climbing until safety light equipment gets in. Munroe explained that the wall won’t be given an after dark operating permit until the lights arrive.
The renovation began “the afternoon classes ended on dead week” said Munroe. Teams have been working for a little over a month now and the result is a great looking new wall. Munroe explained to me that the wall is adding 12,000 square feet, with an average of 3 holds per foot. All this translates into 36,000 new holds. The wall also boasts two whole new areas and two new cracks for crack climbers.
As I opened the door to our office today, there were two notes slipped under our door. Here’s what they had to say:
Dear Oregon Commentator,
We would like you to cover the Pacifica Forum debate that took place today. My friends and I went, but what we found was not the free exchange of ideas but a circus, a shouting match that ultimately ended in nothing of intellectual value. The Nazis stormed out in the first 5 minutes, and the leader of the Pacifica Forum was harassed for the continuing 25 minutes of so. While the Pacifica Forum member spoke (who was not a Nazi) the protesters made coordinated pointing motions with their hands that looked shockingly like Nazi salutes.
What I saw today was a horrible re-enactment of what the Nazis themselves did; silence unpopular opinion, appeal to the basest part of human nature, and ultimately a crime against free speech. I hate the Nazis, both those of Germany and the ones I saw today at the Pacifica forum, both protester and speaker.
P.S. When my black friend went up to speak to the forum leader afterwards a cop came up and asked him, out of everyone in the group if, “they were cool,” it was bullshit.
P.P.S. I think you guys have a great publication