The OC Blog Back Issues Our Mission Contact Us Masthead
Sudsy Wants You to Join the Oregon Commentator
 

Archive for the 'Ethics' Category

Keep your ducks in a row

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014

Less than a year ago I wrote a post about the failing and questionable academic standards here at U of O concerning student-athletes. I referred to a thesis about possible infractions committed at UNC Chapel Hill regarding student-athletes. This month another report was published that was the result of an investigation into the matter of helping student athletes remain eligible through a number of different ways.  The whole investigation can be found here but I am just going to list some highlights for y’all:

– More than 3000 students were believed to be involved in this scandal through the department of African and Afro-American Studies(AFAM). It should be noted that the report states that “while that number very likely falls short of the true number, it is as close as we can get to a definitive total without engaging in speculation”.

– The main blame of the report lands on former student services manager Deborah Crowder and chair of the curriculum Dr. Julius Nyang’oro. Crowder and Nyang’oro are found to have created classes within the department that required little to no work in order to keep student athletes eligible for competition. They gave high grade to papers without properly looking over them. They accepted papers that were found to be plagiarized as well as papers that were not written by the students at all.

– The report also specifics that through interviews with several coaches and administrators within the athletic department there is strong evidence to suggest that people knew about this “eligibility” scheme and that they knowingly let and encouraged the student athletes to participate in it. For example former football head coach John Bunting claimed that “He knew that they yielded consistently high grades for his players, and was told …that they were a key element… for keeping some players eligible”

– The report found no evidence that the higher ranking administrators for the entire university had any knowledge of the ongoing issues within the AFAM and the subsequent grade dishonesty.

The whole report reeks of the classic “see no evil, hear no evil…” mindset within schools; almost everyone had some idea that students were receiving higher grades than usual in these classes and that they were considered to be easy but no one ever made a formal complaint. This can be attributed to the fact that professors, athletic personnel and others feel an immense pressure to keep student athletes eligible as the sports teams bring universities millions of dollars each year. Because let’s be honest here; money makes the world go round, and colleges are no different.

Just look at how much money our won football team is bringing in to the school. Think about how much money Uncle Phil and the child exploiters over at Nike contribute to the school. If you think that this sort of scandal is an isolated incident then you are wrong. The truth is that all sorts of academic dishonesty and rule violations take places at universities all over the nation in the name of the holy dollar. Do you think it was a coincidence that our good ol’ buddy Chip left for the pros just before NCAA started looking into our football team? Everyone cheats. It’s as simple as that. Now, is the cheating due an institutional problem where the sports teams have become so lucrative in the NCAA system that they push academics aside? Or is a individual problem where some school just can’t follow the rules? Spend 10 minutes reading reports about similar academic scandals concerning student athletes and the answer will become very clear.

The Ol’ Dirty

Monday, March 10th, 2014

We were gonna say that the Emerald was starting to do better. The Ol’ Dirty had seemingly radically cut down on the number of bullshit articles(fluff!) which is a curse for us at the OC. Without a constant stream of bad journalism who are we supposed to make fun of!?! But relax, the Emerald is still as dirty as ever which the recent plagiarism/fabrication scandal shows. Don’t get us wrong, the OC is far from perfect, our magazine seems to copy edited by a blind dyslexic after all and during our 30 years of existence surely one of our writers made something up or screwed up. Shit happens but the Emerald seems to have more shit than others.

But the real story in today’s issue was the cover article about ASUO president Sam Dotters-Katz and Professor Bill Harbaugh.  Apparently the Emerald show of its journalistic integrity by publishing wild and unfounded accusations. Without any evidence or basis the Emerald still decides to print words that frame Harbaugh as having vandalized both Dotters-Katz’s and Ehlen’s car . Shit, even Ehlen himself says that it is “farfetched” that Harbaugh would have vandalized Ehlen’s car. Dotters-Katz is also quoted as saying “I don’t know if Bill did it personally. I’m not necessarily making that accusation…Even the professors I’ve talked to who hate Bill say this isn’t his M.O. I agree, but that’s not to say he’s not involved indirectly.”

Why the hell would you ever even print such wild indirect accusations? There are no grounds for it unless you count the personal feelings of two people towards a third as conclusive evidence. Naturally, we don’t know what happened and who did what to the cars and that’s the problem. That the Emerald knowingly perpetrates a person as a criminal even though there is no evidence besides the hunch of two people who are feuding with Harbaugh. The car incident should even be mentioned as there is no evidence and anything other than evidence found by the police investigation is just useless navel-gazing. But as usual the Emerald actually has a nugget of something interesting in the article but fuck interesting and important things when you can publish rumors and private beefs! Roughly 90 % of the article is spent prying into the personal issues between Sam Dotters-Katz and Harbaugh  while only the last part is actually devoted to the real issue; the lack of transparency within the University and many of its operations.

If the University has nothing to hide and everything is completely kosher then why is so much hidden and blocked out from the public? This sentiment can of course be used to justify the NSA’s spying scandal but the difference is that what we’re dealing with here isn’t a private matter, this is a public university and we as students have the right to know where our money goes and how it is spent. Simple as that, or so you would think but instead the Emerald shys away from the issues and becomes a gossip magazine that spews out shit worse than a frat boy after 20 natty ice and a pizza.

We’re fucking psyched about this development, keep being dirty Emerald!

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 President is Again ASUO President

Monday, February 18th, 2013

On February 15th the UO Con Court effectively said “Never mind,” responding affirmatively to a motion to reinstate ASUO President Laura Hinman.

The Con Court decided that Hinman’s nonfulfillment of duties, which is the reason she was pulled from office in late January, had been remedied by ASUO Vice President Nick McCain. The petition for reinstatement cited Hinman’s appointing of Pat Chaney to the elections board, followed by Chaney’s recommendations of four other applicants and finally by McCain appointing those recommendations on February 7th, during Hinman’s forced absence.

The completion of an elections board resolved the initial dispute brought to the Con Court, which was a grievance filed against Hinman by Joanna Stewart. The full Con Court opinion can be read here.

And they all lived happily ever after, despite the excruciating budget hearings and God knows what else.

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.”

Newtown, CT Shooting

Monday, December 17th, 2012

Our hearts go out to the grieving families in Newtown, Connecticut, in the aftermath of an elementary school shooting that killed 20 children and six adults. Shooter Adam Lanza killed himself soon after police were called.

This atrocity is unignorable. The Commentator is working on an article that addresses the gun control debate from all possible angles and from all possible perspectives. For now, our love and condolences are with Newtown.

The Address for donations is: SandyHook School Support Fund c/o Newtown Savings Bank 39 Main St Newtown, CT 06470

The address for the school is where cards, letters, teddy bears anything for the siblings can be sent for the families: Sandy Hook Elementary School 12 Dickinson Drive, Sandy Hook, CT 06482

Thanks to Swamp Fox Green for the donation information (the full post can be read here).

“Perceived” Rights and Smoker Ethics

Tuesday, December 11th, 2012

After getting off of work in the dungeon that is the Knight Library basement, I stepped into the afternoon rain. I pulled a pre-rolled cigarette from my pocket (Bugler brand – mangy, disgusting Bugler) and lit it. Standing off to the side so as not to spread smoke, an elderly woman shot me the evil eye before stopping in front of me: “There’s no smoking on campus. Go smoke across the street.”

I stared at her until she left.

This kind of situation has become all-too-common since the Healthy Campus Initiative, in partnership with the UO Health Center and the administration (with a special guest funding appearance from the ASUO), implemented a campus-wide smoking ban at the beginning of the Fall. The idea of a smoking ban isn’t anything new; the Smoke Free Campus Task Force (SFTF) issued a report in 2008 that sought to

tak[e] up the matter of campus smoking policy with the understanding that the issue is fueled by strong personal convictions for perceived personal rights, both the right to be free from the effects of secondhand smoke and the right to choose to smoke cigarettes (STFT Report, emphasis mine)

The rest of the report either references student support from polls drawn from other universities, or flat-out neglects student responses in order to reference various studies, policies, and polls from other universities. Under “Synthesis of Survey Findings of UO Faculty, Staff, and Students,” the report states that

Many survey respondents are ready to support the move to a smoke free campus… [and] also were confident that this could be accomplished with designated smoking areas… (Ibid.)

Oh, hey, there’s a reasonable point. But no! The STFT simply cannot concede, because “enforcement becomes very difficult and compliance suffers as a result.” You don’t say.

No matter what the administration does, what programs it implements, what funding it pulls or pushes, students will push against it. Lord knows the Commentator will. The Healthy Campus Initiative tried to remedy this student disconnect with the “STFU” posters, a internet-conscious campaign that seemed to confuse people more than encourage quitting (check out this post about the issue from our very own Editor Emeritus Sophia Lawhead).

Another argument is that it unfairly targets lower-income UO workers. Even those filthy hipsters at the OV agree with us on this point. Making workers go off campus for a 15 minute smoke break is not only inconsiderate, but damaging to already-strained labor relationships.

“All I wanted was a non-fat, cream-jizzed latte with peasant tears in it!”

So why bring up this almost-5-year-old report, you may ask? Because Frances Dyke and company never really cared about what students thought. The UO has become a brand, and it needs to sell itself in order to keep flagging state funding and private donor contributions steady. The publicity surrounding the ban has relentlessly focused on the “progressive” aspects of the program without attending to the opinions of students or faculty – and if so, only through narrow data samples used to prop up their point.

But the effects of secondhand smoke are serious. I completely understand the goal behind the smoking ban. Cigarette butt litter continues to be a problem, and has only been exacerbated by the ban — take a look at the 13th and Kincaid entrance to campus if you don’t believe me. Families with young children and people with respiratory problems are also rightfully concerned.

The only way to fight this ban, then, is to implement a personal smoker code of ethics to demonstrate smoker commitment to a healthy campus and personal freedoms. Here’s mine:

  1. Always smoke away from buildings and large groups of people, and/or areas of great traffic.
  2. Stop inhaling and pull the cigarette as far away from passing families with children.
  3. If someone asks you to smoke off campus, politely decline or simply don’t say anything at all. You’ll be finished if and when they call DPS.
  4. Put butts out and make sure they’re extinguished before throwing them away.
  5. Throw butts in the trash.
  6. If an officer asks you to put your cigarette out, assess the situation. Fines suck, but so do the deprivation of “perceived personal rights.”
  7. Overall, recognize that your activity is looked down upon. Take pride in this.

It’s not perfect, but it works for me. The Commentator will continue to fight this arbitrary ban with articles, letters, appeals, and upcoming events like Tobacco Appreciation Day. But the ball is in smokers’ courts. We at the Commentator will do our best to point out the massive cavalcades of bullshit directed at students who make the choice to smoke. This smoking ban is just another attempt at nannying the student populace; the administration never does anything without direct benefit to them, and they’ve fucked smokers to bolster their public image under the pretense of “knowing what’s best.”

The whole campaign feels like yet another pat on the head, another assumption about our intelligence, actions, and responsibilities. But we’re not kids anymore. We’re adults, students, workers, and yes, smokers. So smoke ’em if ya got ’em. It’s going to be a long, long battle.