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Journalists should be held accountable like you and me: A response to Kevin Sullivan

Thursday, January 9th, 2014

Due to it’s timely matter, The Commentator has decided to publish this piece online. It will also appear in our physical publication later this month. 

On Monday, January 6th columnist Kevin Sullivan published an opinion column in the Daily Emerald that left a rather sour taste in my mouth. Of course, I’m not much of one to read the Emerald regularly (because I already know how to have fun in the snow in Bend and find an instruction manual for this not necessary), but when I happened upon Kevin’s most recent opinion piece “Athletes should be held accountable like you and me” I knew a response from The Commentator would be necessary. Of course, here at The Commentator, we couldn’t agree more with Kevin’s notion that athletes are a favored bunch throughout our national universities (and especially here at UO). Kevin, we commend your effort to put these athletes in their place and ensure that everyone is held accountable for their actions.

The problem with Kevin’s piece is his insight into the Jameis Winston rape case that was closed a little over a month ago in December. Writes Kevin:

         Imagine a case of sexual assault. A 9-11 call surfaces after a month of the case being in the mainstream news but a year after the survivor first reported the rape. The survivor has already identified the man who had raped her and DNA evidence had proven that he indeed had sex with her.
        This guy was obviously convicted right?
        Wrong.

Now hold it right there, Kevin. Why should this guy obviously be convicted? Based on the story you just told, I reached the conclusion that the man should obviously not be convicted! We’re supposed to think that DNA evidence proving that two people had sex is evidence of rape? Because there’s no such thing as consensual sex, right Kev?

I’m not here to argue against the innocence of Winston [...] I’m here to state the truth writes Kevin right after conclusively referring to Winston as “the man who had raped her“. Welcome to America, where all are guilty until proven innocent… good thing our justice system doesn’t operate on the same rules that Kevin does.  All I’m saying is that we have words like “alleged” so that journalists can refer to the accused without definitively calling them, as Kevin does,  ”the assailant“. Throughout his piece, it is clear that Kevin has made his mind up about the Winston case. He repeatedly refers to the accuser as “the victim” and contextualizes the story in a way that makes it obvious to us all that the tenant of “innocent until proven guilty” is only applicable until an Ol’ Dirty Emerald columnist decides that it is not. And all this in a piece where Kevin calls out the media for not properly framing a story and for “poorly reported stories“. Kev, we’re all beginning to drown in the irony here.

Of course, I cannot disagree with your main point that the accuser received a lot of hate from FSU fans and the public alike. Yes, that happened, but it does not determine whether or not Winston is guilty or not. Let’s be honest this rape allegation will always be tied in with Jameis Winston’s name as well. The truth is, there just was not enough evidence to convict Jameis of anything. This doesn’t mean that he isn’t a rapist, but (without concrete evidence) we will never know what happened.  Of course, since Kevin is already sure of his verdict, we invite him to pour through the case evidence that the state attorney released.

The point is, while there is nothing wrong with disagreeing with our judicial system, it’s ethically wrong to debase the innocent until proven guilty that our justice system is based on. Kevin, until you’re ready to present concrete evidence that Jameis Winston is a rapist, we cannot refer to him as one. And when you do have that concrete evidence, we highly encourage you to fax it over to the Tampa police so the case can be reopened.

It was not only Kevin’s absurdly definitive reporting of Winston’s guilt that infuriates us here at The Commentator. It seems like it would also be relevant to point out here that the opinion piece misreported a couple things. Writes Kevin:

[O]ne insightful anchor on “Good Morning America” put it on Dec. 12, “I just want this one to go away.”
Let me repeat that.
One of the anchors from ‘Good Morning America,” the leading morning show in America, said that he wanted the story of the Winston case to “go away.”

Good thing you repeated this twice, Kevin. Does that mean we can charge you with two accounts of false reporting? Take a look at the video that is being referenced, and I think it will be as clear to you as it was to me- Stephanopoulos says “They just want this one to go away.” Of course, by changing this one critical word you completely change the intention of Stephanopoulos’ comment. I see what you did there. Clever, Kev. Very clever.

Of course, why stop here? Let’s also get a source for those statistics you’re referencing. Writes Kevin: “the percentage of women who falsely report rape is very low and not any higher than any other false reporting of other crimes” I’ll forget about how terribly phrased this sentence is for a minute, so I can present some statistics:

Since 1996 “unfounded” rape accusations are reported by the FBI to be around 8%, while other index crimes have been around 2%.  Of course, “unfounded” does not necessarily mean “false allegation”. It is almost impossible to discover the true percentage of false rape accusations, but many estimate that they are higher than index crimes. Of course, I’m guessing Kevin found his statistics in ”Against Our Will”. Nice. Very reliable source, Kev.

“Football should not trump [...] our judicial system” writes Kevin in conclusion to his article. Let us remind you, Kev, that bad journalism should not trump our judicial system either.

Alright, kiddos, that’s all we’ve got until we hear back from Kevin. In the meantime let’s all remember that everyone accused of rape is guilty, especially if there isn’t enough evidence to prove it.

Thomas Tullis

ASUO Flippity Floppity

Friday, April 5th, 2013

Remember these things?

photo

They’re coming back. On Wednesday April 3, 2013 the Associated Students of the University of Oregon did something utterly hilarious. They decided to spend $1,960 on another feel-good measure, but this time, it’s all flippity floppity. Almost $2,000 was authorized to be spent on– *DRUMROLL*– cigarette butt receptacles!

Wait, it gets better! They are being installed off campus! 

These receptacles were ripped out of the ground 7 months ago on the student’s dollar and now they are needed again, because our University still looks all trashy. Who is surprised? Not this Commentator.

Yes, totally unforeseen by the ASUO and supporters of the Healthy Campus Initiative was the fact that a toothless ban on smoking wasn’t going to stop smokers. All it did was alienate and inconvenience people. Their response was to take their smoking to the UO borderlands where half-smoked cigs fall to the ground or flow into the sewers.

So the ASUO Executive branch put forth a special request to the Senate on Wednesday, asking for $1,960 to be spent on designated cigarette butt receptacles to be installed at two major campus entrances. These receptacles are to be multi-purpose trash bins (or something) with signs. The requesters explained that the sign would depict not just cigarette butt disposal, but other trash as well (in order to discourage littering while not endorsing smoking).

The motion to fund this back-patting flippity flop passed like a hot potato. I can’t say I disagree that the University needs these smoking stations, as they will come to be with people congregating all about them, basking in the last few puffs of their cigarettes. But now when people enter the UO, they’ll see smokers and their butts littered around an all-to-obvious trash can and have to walk through all their smoke.

I guess that’s better than having a designated smoking area ON campus but AWAY from the main flow of traffic right? 

I would say I told you so. But I’d probably be told to Shut The Fuck Up.

Win a Sudsy T-shirt!

Monday, March 4th, 2013

Want to win one of these??

sudsy_tees

Where in the world is the Oregon Commentator? Do you know where we moved the distribution box missing from the picture below?

Email your responses to WINTHINGS(at)OREGONCOMMENTATOR.COM and win a free Sudsy t-shirt!

Disclaimer: Sudsy t-shirt must be picked up on campus.

13th & Uni

The Commentator has fallen victim to dismal segregation and hilarious categorization. The photo above demonstrates how bigotry can have a serious effect on a journal of opinion. The Commentator distribution box just couldn’t take it anymore and ran away to another location. Can you find it?

And anyway, who’s decision was it to put the Emerald next to the Register Guard and the Weekly? The latter two clearly contain news of some manifestation.

McDermed Lacking Pertinent Information

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

It is clear that the University of Oregon Police Department do not care what the students want.

Interim Police Chief Carolyn McDermed, Captain Pete Deshpande and Kelly McIver are putting on a series of sham forums in order to coo us into thinking our voices are heard.

Even Kelly McIver admitted to the lack of student input on Tuesday during the second public forum regarding the armament of UO police officers. An audience member, citing a Register Guard article, stated:

“In 2011, students voted against arming police in a campus referendum.”

Hearing this, McIver, the Communications Director, said “There wasn’t much advertising.”

Nobody in the room was able (or willing) to confirm whether there had been a campus referendum or not.

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OSPIRG Still Trying To Steal Our Money

Monday, February 25th, 2013

Somehow OSPIRG continues to crawl about our campus “advocating” causes it could otherwise accomplish or address itself.

“Do you care about Crater Lake?”

No. I care that the insane amount of money I spend at this school goes toward practical, achievable things (or even causes, if you will). It’s great that our (NOTE: a very vague and presumptuous possessive adjective) interests as students are being “advocated” for by people with good intentions, but that’s not enough. If the students behind OSPIRG want it to be a group so badly, it needs to fit the same criteria that other student groups are subject to.

Senate Ombudsperson Ben Rudin (who, contrary to popular reports, does not double-park in handicap spaces nor does he boot sick puppies from the sidewalk) was quoted in the Ol’ Dirty link above, explaining, “The fact that I agree with most of what they advocate does not make one iota of difference, legally. The fact that their viewpoints are popular does not make one iota of difference, either. Factoring in either of those is a flagrant violation of viewpoint neutrality.”

If the students behind OSPIRG really care about a certain set of issues, and want to spend the students’ collective I-fee on changing things for the better, they must address their structure (read: become a transparent group, not a PIRG), center their focus, and enact said change on the campus from whence the funds came. Lord Phil knows we’ve got enough problems right here on campus.

Hold on, I’m not done yet. If Ombudsperson Rudin didn’t say it good enough the first time, he left a comment under that Ol’ Dirty article that really hits the nail on OSPIRG’s head:

It’s a legit consideration when deciding how to contribute your own money, not other people’s.

“To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical” – Thomas Jefferson. I think he should have included women, but otherwise the statement is dead on.

Chief McDermed Contradicted by Community Icon Officer Randy Ellis

Sunday, February 24th, 2013

The arming of UOPD is problematic in a number of ways. As the Register Guard points out, the East 13th Avenue police substation of EPD is in danger of losing funding– something the businesses and residents of the area don’t want.

Wait, area businesses and residents are in favor of EPD’s presence on East 13th Avenue? Not necessarily. What they favor is the man behind the badge, officer Randy Ellis.

As the RG reports, EPD’s only remaining substation is run by Ellis. The experienced officer has been patrolling the area between Kincaid and High for about 20 years. Back in the early 1990s, 13th Avenue was a drug-addled, trick-turning, vagrant-fest. Ellis turned that all around with his intimate foot patrol.

Ellis, quoted by the RG:

“As far as I’m concerned, technology is overrated,” Ellis said. “I don’t like it. You don’t talk to people.”

This bears a striking contrast to the perspective of Interim Police Chief McDermed when asked about patrol time spent walking/biking versus driving: “Our cars are our offices.”

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UOPD Interview with Photos

Thursday, February 21st, 2013

About 15 people gathered in the EMU Walnut Room Tuesday for coffee and discussion of the arming of UOPD. Interview here. Below, a photo essay by Oregon Commentator photographer Jazmin Avalos.

DSC_1141

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Have Coffee with the Chief

Monday, February 18th, 2013

There are two opportunities this week to go one on one with UOPD Chief Carolyn McDermed. You can ask questions and make comments at these small, informal events:

Tuesday, Feb. 19, 3:30 pm to 4:30 pm EMU Walnut Room
Thursday, Feb. 21, noon to 1pm EMU Board Room

But visit this site first: http://police.uoregon.edu/FAQ
And the next two public forums:

Tuesday, Feb. 26, 4:30-6:00pm EMU Fir Room
Wednesday, March 6, 11:30am-1:00pm Knight Library Browsing Room

Well I heard there will be coffee.

Deja Vu at the Campbell Club

Saturday, February 16th, 2013

A little bit of deja vu as the UO looks at expanding the powers of our campus police force:

When a “telephonic search warrant” was issued by a municipal court judge to enter the Campbell Club after lack of compliance with police, residents then decided to cooperate.

As reported by the Ol’ Dirty:

After police finished their search, 14 residents were taken into custody and stayed the night in the Lane County Jail after being charged with prohibited noise — where six of those 14 were also cited for interfering with police in addition to one resident cited with resisting arrest. Another nine residents received citations in lieu of custody for prohibited noise, and eight minors received MIP citations.

See the old post by former Commentator CJ Ciaramella detailing a similar raid from about 5 years ago.

The Fight for Transparency Continues

Saturday, February 16th, 2013

“Oregon’s public records law is internally contradictory and ambiguous,” Senior Assistant to the President, Dave Hubin says.

Did you know that the UO has a faculty Senate? They meet once a month and even have committees devoted to certain aspects of governance. All meetings, including those of Senate and its committees, are open to students. I attended one yesterday– it was all very new and scary to me. Wondering how their efficacy compares to the ASUO Senate?

At a Senate Transparency Committee (STC) meeting, Economics Professor Bill Harbaugh (head of the committee, who’da thunk it?), lined out some important questions for Dave Hubin at an STC meeting. Some of them were addressed.

The first: Why is Public Records Officer Lisa Thornton no longer attending the STC meetings?
Members urged that Thornton’s position necessitates her participation in matters of transparency.

Hubin explained that the Public Records Office is of least authority since Richard Lariviere charged him with overseeing the Office, having it report directly to the Senior Assistant.

“Because it reports directly to me, it makes sense for me to represent the Public Records Office in this venue,” Hubin said.

“I think it’s great you come to these meetings, but if you are representing the Public Records Officer, you need to be prepared to answer detailed questions,” Harbaugh said.

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UOPD Firearm Forum, Gun Rant

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

Almost 40 (a generous estimation) people not affiliated with the newly named University of Oregon Piggy Department gathered in Great Global Scholars Hall last night and a public forum started around 6PM. The subject? The arming of UO Police Officers.

Jamie Moffitt explained that amidst budget cuts with EPD and lessened support, the growing campus community has heightened needs.

Public information officer and communications director at UOPD Kelly McIver maintained that armament is part of the mission to keep the campus safe. He also reiterated a few times that UOPD will generally refer students to the Office of Student Conduct, rather inject legal troubles into their lives.

“Police are not here to police students,” McIver urged. Fun fact according to officials: 88% percent of the suspicious persons investigated by UO Public Safety last year were people unaffiliated with the UO.

Interim Police Chief Carolyn McDermed said it’s really all about relationships. Building a relationship with the community in order to best serve their needs.

The Register Guard has a good play-by-play.

Yes, as of January 1st, 2012 the men and women public-safetying our campus are suffering an inferiority complex. Currently, the UOPD has eleven sworn police officers with thirteen public safety officers aiding them. Only a “couple of” (which I can only assume to mean at maximum but also minimum two) officers are on duty during its 24/7 operation.

In the spirit of the Great Global Scholars Hall, I must ask, “Qué tipo de mierda es eso? Súper inefectivo!”

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Senate Jan. 30th

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

Goin  live at 7pm!

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ASUO vs. Athletics- At the Cost of a Marching Band

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

The ASUO Executives have proposed a funding cut to the Oregon Athletic Bands (OAB) budget for the 2013-2014 school year. The proposed cut is deep, potentially taking away $150,000 (which is nearly all of the ASUO’s contributions). This $150k amounts to nearly 1/3 of the total OAB budget- which, by the way, is an ASUO recognized Student Organization. The ASUO Executives feel that the OAB should be funded by Athletics, not student incidental fees. There hasn’t been much of an argument presented (ASUO President Nick McCain’s letter can be found here).

Basically, I think this is absolutely ridiculous. We are a student group, and meet all the qualifications to be funded by the ASUO. There has been a tremendous out pour of support (much of which can be found here). This is essentially a game of chicken between the ASUO and Athletics, and we, the Oregon Athletic Bands, are caught in the middle.

Any student at the University of Oregon should realize how much of an impact the OAB has. Convocation, an event every student is supposed to attend, is also one of the first University events a student will attend, and the marching band plays Mighty O, and leads the entering class in the singing of the pledge song.

We are an organization, by the students, of the students, and most importantly, for the students. Please come support the Oregon Athletic Bands at our budget hearing on Thursday, January 31 at 7:00 PM in Columbia 150. We appreciate all the support we can get! If you cannot attend, feel free to send a friendly note to the ASUO. Go Ducks!

All I want for Christmas are Chip Kelly’s balls

Monday, December 24th, 2012

An excellent piece about how Chip Kelly’s balls piss off boosters. Merry Christmas everyone! Also Kwanzaa. And don’t forget Winter Solst– fuck it, pass the ham.

More Like EMU ReferenDUMB, Am I Right?

Friday, December 21st, 2012

It’s 10pm on a Friday night, which might be our last night alive, but here we are again discussing the debacle that is the EMU Referendum .

Student and USSA member Lucero Castaneda (the n having one of those squigglys above it that WordPress is reluctant to allow) has filed a grievance against ASUO president Laura Hinman, claiming a biased approach to the EMU referendum. For those of you who haven’t followed the sketchiness, this post from before the EMU referendum vote and this post from after can help catch you up.

The rule Castaneda accuses Hinman of violating is as follows:

The ASUO Elections shall be conducted in a manner consistent with the best interests of the student body. The elections shall be conducted in a fair, orderly and impartial manner, and the educational atmosphere of the University shall not be compromised, by any member of the ASUO involved in the electoral process.

Castaneda wrote; “The EMU Renovation Task Force…engaged in a heavy-handed pro-yes campaign on the EMU referendum. This is clearly indicated in the memo between the Task Force and the political consultant firm they hired, RBI strategies.” Click here for the memo.

She also says that Hinman’s membership in the EMU Renovation Task Force establishes her unfair inclination on the issue. The example provided is the ASUO’s education campaign, which Castenado says contains “slanted language and pro-renovation opinions presented as fact.” Students wishing to learn about the issue were directed to this website; judge for yourself.

Castaneda then cites Hinman’s selective approach to student involvement:

Campus outreach during the week of the referendum disproportionately targeted Greek life. No student union or other student group with space in the EMU was notified of the referendum, yet several fraternities and sororities were visited by members of the ASUO Executive and encouraged to vote in the referendum. Why would [Hinman] go out of her way to travel to the homes of students belonging to fraternities and sororities to encourage them to vote, but not attempt to contact students already present in the EMU? The reason is that [Hinman] perceived Greek students to be more likely to vote yes, and students belonging to groups within the EMU more likely to vote no.

Castaneda suggests that, because the methods to achieve a “yes” vote on the EMU renovation appear to be biased, a second vote is in order. “The most logical remedy is to invalidate the results of this referendum, and hold a second referendum on the same question, this time under the jurisdiction of a duly appointed elections board.”