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Archive for July, 2010

Housing and Facebook

Monday, July 26th, 2010

The Ol’ Dirty is reporting today that, similar to 2008-09, the UO has let in more freshmen than they have room for in housing. This time, instead of sending them across the river to live in Stadium Park, the UO admin has another plan:

Students are first notified that there isn’t enough room within University Housing. Then, they are invited via Facebook to join a specially created group called “UO Apartment/Roommate Connection.”

“Only the people we’ve identified who have registered for housing can join,” Shang said.

The University is also now affiliated with the new Courtside Apartments through Property Management Concepts, much like how the University entered an affiliation with Stadium Park Apartments in 2008-09 to help house incoming University freshmen.

It is impossible to look at this spike in enrollment outside of the state’s budget woes, and subsequently the University’s budget woes. Although the decisions on how many incoming students to enroll includes a multitude of factors, the bottom line is more students (particularly out of state students) = more money for the UO, and more leverage for further changes of University funding policy. (This includes Lariviere’s white paper, or other proposals.)

The whole Facebook thing is interesting, too. WOO SOCIAL MEDIA, and all that. I guess everyone has a Facebook now, especially young people, so it seems appropriate. And if you’re looking to create a networking community . . . I think the UO could probably set something up independently of Facebook, but there’s no guarantee kids will use it. Anyway, that’s not really the important part. I wonder who on Facebook invites these freshmen to this group. I hope it’s Richard Lariviere.

Finally, Kat includes some interesting facts at the end of her story:

The residence halls have the capacity to hold about 3,700 students, 3,000 of which are freshmen. The University intentionally limited freshmen enrollment to 3,765 in 2009, but in 2008, freshmen enrollment was at a record high of 4,205, which put further stress on University Housing and led to the Stadium Park agreement.

P.S. Where is Amelie’s Housing Advocate Amanda Hilts on this issue? Isn’t this, like, her job?

Volume 28, Issue 1: The Summer Issue, Part II. Look for it on racks monday!

Thursday, July 22nd, 2010

The Summer Issue, Part 2, will be on stands monday. Get a full color sneak peek here.

Credit Where Credit’s Due

Thursday, July 22nd, 2010

We at the Oregon Commentator love to poke fun at our fellow campus publications, but sometimes you have to give credit where credit is due. In the latest issue of the Oregon Voice, which is downloadable in PDF form at their website, they have included some worthwhile gems. Most importantly, this:

Jacqua-fina

Way to remain relevant, OV. I actually laughed out loud when I read it. Good work.

Opinions on the Riverfront — Amelie Rousseau edition

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

ASUO President Amelie Rousseau was published in the Register-Guard this week, along with a UO alum and a grad student, with an opinion on the UO’s proposed riverfront development. As is the general student opinion on the riverfront, they’re not too pleased:

More than two years has passed since the University of Oregon announced plans for the Oregon Research Institute’s office building and parking lot along the banks of the Willamette River, yet construction has not begun. Instead, the university is burning through taxpayer money and public goodwill by defending a development plan approved when Ronald Reagan was president and mullets were fashionable.

Rather than rolling out the bulldozers at one of several viable sites that aren’t shrouded in controversy, the university has chosen to tout the proposed building’s green design features. Instead of addressing the fundamental problem with the site — that construction on the riverfront forecloses on all other options for using this precious public land for generations to come — the university has been tinkering with the placement of its 200 parking spaces.

They go on to appeal to the reader, mentioning taxpayer funding of this project and how there are other locations that might have been more appropriate had the UO gone through an extended public hearing process.

I can only imagine that Rousseau’s name on this letter shows that she is representing students and our thoughts on the riverfront projects. I certainly applaud that. But I also understand the University of Oregon administration’s reluctance to consult with students on larger-scale building projects. In reality, most students are either ignorant or apathetic, or both. This is more evidence of the UO’s inability to engage, but I think it goes both ways. The administration should be consulting with students on their development projects. Whether or not most students would care is another story.

More on the OLCC

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

The DOJ has released their opinion on the OLCC homebrew issue from a couple weeks ago, and if you were looking forward to a beer or wine competition at this year’s state fair, you are sure to be disappointed:

In a legal opinion made public today, the Oregon Department of Justice has concluded that amateur home brewers lose their exemption under state law that they be licensed as a manufacturer when their home brewed alcoholic liquor is consumed outside the home.

The law in question is ORS 471.403(1), which states:

No person shall brew, ferment, distill, blend or rectify any alcoholic liquor unless licensed so to do by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission. However, the Liquor Control Act does not apply to the making or keeping of naturally fermented wines and fruit juices or beer in the home, for home consumption and not for sale.

Due to the DOJ’s lack of transparency, I’m having trouble finding the actual memo. Beernews.org has some more on the story, including some clarification on how the issue came to light. Also see this article from the Oregonian.

The law is vague, and was born out of a post-Prohibition era attempt to regulate the newly-legal booze flow. Legislators and law enforcers wanted to keep a close watch on the consumption of alcohol. They wanted to regulate it harshly. It isn’t that much different than what’s happening now, right? The OLCC wants to manage every drop of hard alcohol in this state, to, as they put it, prevent over-saturation. They claim to have the best interests of Oregonians in mind, all the while raking in $172 million for the state, most of which goes into the general fund. And let’s not forget last year’s Bend OLCC controversy.

A government organization with ultimate power over a popular commodity is dangerous, self-serving and a horrible precedent for the state of Oregon to set. Popular opinion is turning, though, was more and more people have been expressing their opinions. Maybe the revolution is starting. Maybe Oregonians are going to start fighting back, taking what’s been rightfully ours all along.

I don’t know, maybe I’m just drunk.

The dumbest fucking thing ever

Monday, July 19th, 2010

So I was going to do a post bout the Afghan soldier evacuation and the $500 million in planned aid to Pakistan. Then I saw this, a fan made video turned advertisement on Apple’s website touting another use for their titular iPad.

Ignoring the fact that the iPad is pretty much a glorified, expanded iPhone–a less sophisticated computer with a touch screen–this ad takes the cake in Apple consumer pretentiousness.

Effectively touting how you can use velcro to suspend an iPad anywhere in the home/car/work, the ad re-makes the wheel when you remember that it’s just as easy to prop the damn thing up without needing to place velcro all over the house.

The highlight of the video comes as a user places the gizmo on velcro placed on the wall. Not only would two black bars look fucking ugly on the wall when it’s not covered, but this idiot is using the iPad as a picture frame.

Let us compare:

Here’s the rundown of a picture frame

K-Mart 8×10 Picture Frame: $3.90

Photo Print: $2.50 (your milage may vary)

Hammer: $4

A goddamn nail: 10¢

Total: $10.50 and a little elbow grease.

And now iPad and Velcro

Adhesive Velcro: $3.90

Apple iPad: $300

Total: $304 and some ugly ass black stripe on the wall

I enjoy new technology, I really do. But the way this fucking trinket is hyped is goddamn deplorable. There’s nothing new or interesting to see, folks. Move along, move along.

Beer and Fairs

Friday, July 9th, 2010

From the OLCC blog:

The Oregon Liquor Control Commission was recently asked whether certain public competitions involving home made alcohol products were in compliance with the law. We provided guidance to the State Fair and other licensees which stated that such competitions were not authorized because they did not fall within the requirements of this statute ORS 471.403 clearly states that the Liquor Control Act (including the requirement for a liquor license) applies except for beer “brewed in the home for home consumption and not for sale”.

In consultation with the Department of Justice, we have received an initial analysis of the statute regulating home brewing (ORS 471.403) which also indicates that the law only allows for consumption of home brews in the home. The home brewers lose their exemption to craft brew without a license when the home brew is consumed outside of the home.

For all you Oregon State Fair-goers, this means no more home brewed creations to tickle your taste buds. From KATU News in Salem:

The irony is the Oregon State Fair has been holding this home brew competition for years under the same law that is now being interpreted to make the competition illegal. And this in a state known for its microbrews. For example, Oregon is the second largest producer of craft beer in the U.S. and Portland alone has more breweries than any other city in the world, according to the Oregon Brewers Guild.

I don’t know what the deal is here. Oregon’s beer culture is one of the largest ways we draw people into this state and provides important stimulus to our depressing financial situation.

Incidentally, this falls right around Sen. Ron Wyden’s announcement that he will be co-sponsoring legislation to reduce craft beer taxes in Oregon, something he hopes to have in place by the end of 2010:

The bill being discussed by Senator Wyden would reduce the excise tax on breweries producing fewer than 2 million barrels a year. The tax would be reduced from $7 to $3.50.

Oregon brewing, responsible for $2.3 billion dollars a year, is an industry that Senator Wyden identified as a key player in getting Oregonians back to work.

It’s interesting to see the different priorities coming from different offices in the state, especially as this ruling from the OLCC and the DOJ is a shift in interpretation from the past 22 years of the home brew competition’s existence. I’m curious to see how it plays into this fall’s elections as well, as I’ve been told that Oregon gubernatorial candidate Chris Dudley is all about privatizing liquor distribution in this state. Like Dudley, I have little patience for state agencies that seek to parent said state’s citizens while raking in $172 million a year.

Toilet Jokes Don’t Need A Translator

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010

So those of you not aware, I’m currently in South Africa during the World Cup. A few days ago during the Germany-Argentina game, I went to watch the game on the beach, where they have Fan Parks set up. Basically, there are a bunch of beer tents and food vendors so you get wasted and watch the game with thousands of strangers. Anyway…

I was in line for the port-a-potties. There’s a German guy in front of me, and an Argentinian behind me. We’re standing there watching the shitters when a guy stumbles out and stops. He’s standing there trying to pull his pants up, but the port-a-potty door keeps smacking him in the face, therefore preventing him from rectifying his pantaloons. This goes on for about a minute when the German guy turns to me and says, “braucht er wischte sich die esel?” and I respond, “I think he’s got shit in his head.” and immediately after the Argentinian laughs. The German and I turn to hear him say, “¡Qué culo!” and all three of us laugh and point at the man, who quickly walks away.

Let’s just say none of us spoke the others language, but when it comes to mocking others…

Insults need no translation.

Lest We Forget

Tuesday, July 6th, 2010

Magic everywhere in this bitch.

Rearing Its Ugly Head

Tuesday, July 6th, 2010

I was interrupted the other day as I sorted my belongings out in my new room by a knock on the door. I was expecting a friend but was instead greeted by a cheery, rotund face at the door.

“Hello sir!” he boomed in a slightly over enthusiastic voice, smiling with an all-too-mechanical demeanor. I was a little weirded out, until I noticed his polo embroidered with an OSPIRG logo. I promptly ordered him off the property.

Can we put a neighborhood watch out for OSPIRG going door to door?

There’s no telling when OSPIRG will get the message. It’s not that we don’t want to help fight major environmental issues, it’s that we don’t want to waste cash on dinners and gifts. This idea that shoveling money to lobbyists in Salem, and then paying the staff of an organization dedicated to getting that money, sounds far less efficient than any environmental policy, green building, or book buyback program.

And the worst part of it is that I’m not rigidly opposed to the ideas OSPIRG promotes, but it’s not a responsible way to achieve those ends. There must be a way to tell these drones that it’s possible to be environmentally conscious without being a money grubbing douche.

Summer Senate Round One: Procedure, Procedure, Procedure

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

Last night’s ASUO Summer Senate meeting was bogged down in procedural hiccups. For those of you who don’t know, the ASUO operates on a 12 month fiscal cycle, starting on July 1 (today), and thus ending on June 30 (last night). ASUO Accountant Lynn Giordano was there to navigate the mostly-freshman senate on the intricacies of this process, but each agenda item had its fair share of bumps in the road. Add to that a Summer Senate Chair who has never chaired a meeting before, and you’d think the meeting would end in explosion. I have to say, that for being unprepared, all parties did fairly well.

There were six “special requests,” the most interesting of which being from the Men’s Center. This past year, the Men’s Center conducted a series of focus groups surrounding healthy relationships. These conversations and interviews are on an audio recording in their office. Incidentally, the Men’s Center had a portion of left-over money from an unused “Stipend” line item (they couldn’t get anyone to fill a stipend position). Thus, they wanted to move that unused stipend money into a new line item to pay someone to transcribe the interview. This would have been all fine and well, if the budget cycle hadn’t ended last night. Even if Senate had moved the money into another line item, that money would have transferred into the 2010-2011 surplus at midnight last night (it’s confusing, I know). Brian Jacoby (Men’s Center Director) and Senate decided that they would use the 2010-2011 stipend money for the transcription project, and he would come back to surplus to get money for a stipend position next year, should they fill it.

This is most interesting considering the only other consequential special request on the agenda. ASUO President Amélie Rousseau and ASUO Accountant Lynn Giordano came in to request that Senate earmark funds from the ASUO Executive budget previously allocated for a Sustainability Coordinator position. Essentially, former-ASUO President Kallaway and Rousseau tried to evade the previously stated budget constraints by funneling 2009-10 money through a department so it could be spent in 2010-11. When that didn’t work, Rousseau came to Summer Senate to ask them to earmark the funds for use in 2010-11. This is largely unprecedented, with the only earmarking in recent history being used to fund the 24-hour library.

Obviously, this raises concerns about the ASUO’s abuse of process. As Sen. Bocchicchio mentioned at last night’s meeting, “We’re making an exception for ourselves, when it’s something no other student groups are allowed to do.” In fact, the Men’s Center request could have been solved by earmarking the stipend money and allowing them to use 2009-10 money in the 2010-11 budget cycle. When this was brought up, Sen. Stark-MacMillan responded by pointing out the differences in the requests, saying, “We found a solution that worked with them, now we need to find a solution that works with us.” Ultimately, Senate voted to approve the earmarking for $10,000 of the Sustainability Coordinator position’s potential future salary.

Other notable moments of the night:
- Summer Senate Chair Kaitlyn Lange cracked the whip on Robert’s Rules of Order, announcing that senators will only be able to speak twice on a debatable motion and will be limited to ten minutes. The latter is fairly reasonable, and the former exists to prevent back-and-forth and other repetitive discussion. She also called out Sen. Bocchicchio for being redundant, to which he challenged the ruling of the chair. It was pretty epic.
- There are now three Summer Senate internal committees: Rules, Outreach and Projects. They’re pretty self-explanatory. I’d like to see how much Summer Senate actually gets done before September.
- The body chose not to allocate themselves summer stipends. The money that was allocated for June stipends rolled into surplus today, and they are not going to give themselves funds for the rest of the summer. Because the Green Tape Notebook (governing document / constitution of the ASUO) says they can’t.

I think if Senate can do the work necessary to prepare for meetings this year, they might actually do a good job. I suppose we’ll have to see. During the next meeting the body will have $5000 to play with, plus some time before the meeting doing office hours to get some work done. And they’ve set themselves up for it. I hope they’re ready.