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A Sit Down With Dr. Art Robinson

Thursday, October 30th, 2014

Those of you who know me know I am a political junkie. I need my daily fix of news and politics or I end up shaking and babbling in the corner somewhere going through painful withdrawals. Usually this comes in the form of watching CSPAN and visiting a wide variety of news and political sites on the internet. Once in a while, however, I get a treat and Tuesday was one of those times.

I was invited to a meet and greet with Dr. Art Robinson, Republican candidate for Oregon 4th district running against Representative Peter DeFazio. I figured I was in for an hour of listening to someone campaign and my presence would be acknowledged, but that would be about it. Instead what I got was an hour sitting right next to Dr. Robinson engaged in conversation about issues what he thought, what I thought, and very little about his opponent. In fact I do not think Dr. Robinson actually mentioned his opponent during our conversation.

For someone in the final stretches of a campaign this was a delightful surprise. In today’s world of constant mudslinging and partisan bickering I expected to at least hear some trash talk of the opponent, but no none. Dr. Robinson was more interested in what I had to say about issues and where he stood on those issues.

Another thing that kind of surprised me was he did not follow up everything with an answer. Dr. Robinson was genuinely interested in what I had to say. Usually when you talk to politicians during campaign season you get a lot of “I hear you, and this is what I will do to fix it.” It probably helps that Dr. Robinson is not a politician, but instead is a scientist and researcher.

I will also point out that at no time during our conversation did I mention I was a writer, or that I wrote for the OC. He had no reason to think I was nothing more than a college student that was taking the time to come meet him before heading home to my wife and kids.

I was impressed with Dr. Robinson before I met him and I am glad to say he did nothing to change those opinions. If you have a chance to meet him I hope people will take the opportunity to do so. Talk to him, listen to what he has to say, do your own research, and then make your decision Tuesday.

Meth Pipes For Sale

Friday, February 15th, 2013

IMG_0007

This is Wes. He lives in the Whiteaker neighborhood. In past few months, he’s been taking action to stop the sale of what he calls meth pipes around his home.
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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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Kidnapping on Villard this morning

Saturday, January 19th, 2013

We just received this news update from EPD:

Case # 13-1268

At about 2:30 this morning, two men left their apartment on Villard Street to pick up a friend. When they got into their car, a frightening surprise awaited them. Jeramey Ortega, 27 of Halsey, OR was in the backseat, and told both men that he would shoot them if they did not comply with his demands.

Following Ortega’s orders, the two men drive him to various locations, wherein each man had seized opportunities to flee the car at a convenience store and a Coburg Road shopping center, respectively. The first victim to flee was giving police a description of the kidnapper right around the time the remaining victim caught this aggressor slippin’ and punched him “at least 20 times before ordering him out of the car,” as the report states. Ortega then ran South where he was reported to be sleeping in a car on Centennial Loop about four hours later. The police arrested him without incident after noticing he matched the suspect description. Ortega was wanted for warrants in two other jurisdictions and  a Parole Violation.

Watch yourselves and be safe out there people! These victims were lucky to be unharmed.

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.

“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.

Pay Attention: EMU renovation and Social Host Ordinance

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

Two (or three) things students should be aware of these coming weeks:

  1.  A supposedly “informative kickoff meeting” for the EMU referendum vote will be taking place TOMORROW (WEDNESDAY), November 7th at 3pm in the Mills International Center. Learn more about the renovation and how you can get involved. The ASUO Executive’s plan for the following week of voting will be addressed, as well as how students will be educated and informed. Students can’t have a voice if students don’t attend!
  2. The Eugene Social Host Ordinance can lead to a $1000 fine for having gatherings of five or more with alcohol served or consumed, noise complaints, littering ect. There is a petition to oppose it. There will be a rally in the EMU amphitheater on November 19th, 6:30pm and those opposing the ordinance should certainly show up at the Eugene city council meeting at 7:30pm in the Bascom-Tykes Room at Eugene Public Library (100 West 10th Avenue). They need 100 students in order to show the city council that the student body opposes this ordinance. There will be limited transportation provided for students to reach the Eugene Public Library. Anyone interested in helping campaign for this event should contact Senator Lamar Wise in the ASUO.
  3. And, oh yeah… you have about 2 hours to vote in the general elections. That’s important, I suppose.

Prevalence of On-Campus Sexual Assault Highlights University Failures

Thursday, July 5th, 2012

As anyone with a working University email address already knows, the Department of Public Safety (DPS) recently sent out an email detailing two separates rapes that occurred near Autzen Stadium and Chase Village. The tentatively-worded email states that

“Police have learned from second and third hand sources that there may have been three separate rapes within a five-day period near Chase Village and Autzen Stadium, beginning Thursday, June 28. No female victims have come forward or wish to file a report, so the information is unverified…

In one incident on June 29, a woman was walking alone around 10 p.m. on the bike path near Autzen Stadium when she was raped by a man with a knife. The suspect is described as a black male, 6′ tall, 200 pounds, with muscular build, and shaved head.

A second-hand report EPD has received is that two additional female victims have been raped on unknown dates, but within the same week, also in the same general area. One of these two incidents involved a similar suspect: black male, 6′ tall, 200 pounds, with muscular build, and shaved head.”

Besides being a horrifying and disturbing event, the incidents described in the email also point out the relative ineffectiveness of DPS and the overbearing presence of a “rape culture” around the UO. These are big claims to make, but stick with me here.

Based on the amount of “Campus Crime Alerts” I receive in my inbox on a weekly basis, it’s fairly clear that DPS is unable to “provid[e] a safe, secure, and welcoming environment.” While the emergency call boxes that litter campus are a great idea, it’s DPS’ inability to do anything other than dole out prevention tips and “Campus Crime Alerts” that really calls their authority into question. Not to mention the subtle fostering of a rape culture, where women are seen as “victims” rather than “survivors” and are perceived as “asking for it” because of their clothing or body language.

Just look at the passive voice in the first description: “A woman was walking alone around 10 p.m. on the bike path near Autzen Stadium when she was raped by a man with a knife.” Not “a man raped her” or “a man assaulted her”: she was raped. While this may seem like a minor syntactical kvetch, this kind of passive voice fails to accurately highlight the criminal nature of the act. You wouldn’t say “A store was robbed by an escaped convict.” You would say “An escaped convict robbed a store.” Instead, the attacker is placed in the background, and thus escapes scrutiny.

But it’s not all bad. The groups listed at the bottom of the email — Womenspace, SASS, the White Bird Clinic, the Counseling Center, SafeRide, and SWAT — are all excellent resources for survivors. Yet this doesn’t seem to be enough to change the prevalence of the University’s rape culture. There are many places that foster this kind of misogyny, undercutting the excellent work done by the aforementioned groups. Greek Life is an especially obvious target for such criticism, but you can find signs of rape culture anywhere. From the shouted “bitches” and “whores” within Taylor’s to the intense consumption of pornography, this mindset is everywhere around Eugene.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love porn. But all these factors have combined together to create a strangely patriarchal cocktail, one that views women as objects to be seized or sold. Women don’t deserve to be treated that way. And before the snarky comments come pouring in, remember that this isn’t about some bullshit in Washington D.C. or a genocide in some faraway country. This happens to people you know and love every day: your friends, coworkers, acquaintances, and even your family.

Rape is wrong no matter what your political beliefs. The failures of the University and DPS only stand as a testament to the kind of incompetence our school is slowly (and sadly) becoming known for.

A Big Commentator Congratulations to Bill Harbaugh !

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

UO economics professor William T. Harbaugh, the immortal being behind the beloved, anonymous, whistleblower blog UO MATTERS, was awarded the First Freedom Award  by the Society of Professional Journalists of Oregon and Southwest Washington this past Saturday.

The Ol’ Dirty covered this on Monday, but its Commentator policy to be a day late, a dollar short, okay?

The SPJ’s First Freedom award is given annually to an individual who has upheld the principles of the First Amendment. Harbaugh has long been a beacon of the First Amendment, most notably when he illegally published the Oregon Public Records Manual on his official uoregon website. The upheaval this precipitated compelled the attorney general’s office to make the manual available on the internet for the first time ever.

Harbaugh’s recognition is long overdue and largely understated. Y’all should know that the UO Matters blog is updated several times a day, and his posts are usually these quick, fuck-you-exposés about UO athletics and administration that require a kind of efficiency  and genuine concern that we will never (maybe a few years ago we came close) have. Knowing he’s out teaching economics and doing this in his spare time both worries and impresses us. UO Matters is invaluable to the entire, “engaged” university community, but is especially invaluable to drunk, disoriented student journalists like ourselves. We’re the ones constantly referring to UO Matters for direction and content, so finding the Commentator website listed under UO Matters’ “Resources” is an honor and probably some sort of mistake.

Bill, you are the resource. As renowned sultans of hate speech, there aren’t too many people we love to love. And let’s just say that you might be one of those people.

So here’s to you, Harbaugh. And for the record, UO Matters will forever be bookmarked on my Firefox browser.

 

The Worst Christmas Present Ever

Monday, December 26th, 2011

Oh, so four assholes camped out on City Councilor George Poling’s front yard all Sunday night in protest of Occupy Eugene’s recent eviction from the Washington-Jefferson Park.

The four Occupiers, whom one could be presume to be homeless since they apparently had no where better to be on Christmas than a Poling’s front yard, put a twist on the classic Ding-Dong-Ditch by repeatedly ringing his doorbell, then setting up four dingy tents in his front yard and yelling “This is what a police state looks like!” (No joke. Really, I can’t make shit like this up.)

The neighbs loved it, Al Reddig from across the street told the R-G, “This is the most excitement that’s happened here in 10 years. This is big for us.”

Poling himself was less phased, stating “I guess if I made a decision that somebody doesn’t like, I guess I’m subject to this type of protest. That’s part of the job. But it’s not going to change my mind about how I represent my people and my ward.”

The protestors were removed by police soon after they arrived, and we can only wait with baited breath to see where they occupy next! Will it be Kitty Piercy’s whimsical meditation garden? Pat Farr’s rustic aluminum fishing boat? The Oregon Commentator office? Bitches, I hope not, it smells in here already….

Occupy Eugene to be evicted by January 11, God willing…

Friday, December 16th, 2011

…But not before wasting $300,000 of the city’s money. The Occupy Eugene camp underneath the Washington-Jefferson bridge has now become essentially a transient village, abandoning all the lofty demands of the several months ago to focus on the single issue of homelessness.

Last Wednesday the city council voted 5-3 to extend Occupy’s camping exemption to January 11 and spend up to $300,000 to pay for Occupy-related police expenses and fund several homeless initiatives, such as $100,000 earmarked for “wet-bed” facilities and warming centers similar to the Egan Warming Center. They were locked 4-4 until ol’ polecat Mayor Kitty Piercy cast the deciding vote. Councilors Farr, Clark, and Poling opposed the extension and funding on the grounds that “most of the funding would come from funds meant for parks maintenance, pothole repairs, and gang prevention efforts.” Also, the fact the city council continues to cater to the whims of a single group of questionable “activists” is embarrassing for everyone. (If it’s this easy to get exemptions and cash for whatever policies one desires, what is the OC waiting for? Occupy Rennie’s until all beer is free forever!)

Councilor Poling expressed his (and our) frustration at the voting outcome, telling the Register-Guard, “It’s time that we actually stepped up and did what we have to do to reclaim that park, reclaim the city and reclaim what we, as a council, should be doing, and not be guided by somebody else.”

The council did hold firm on the city mandate that outlaws fires in public parks, which the Occupiers requested in order to warm themselves during these bitter Eugene nights. Occupy organizer John Monroe accused the councilors of being “uncaring,” but a rational human could also accuse them of having “reasonable forethought” and being “park-fire-averse.”

The Occupiers themselves seem split on the ruling. KEZI reported that Occupy Eugene feels the city is “wasting money” on them, saying that the problem is the city council’s view that the camp is comprised mostly of homeless who need funding for a smooth transition out of the park and back to rustling around in your dumpster at 5 AM.

“This is not a homeless camp,” Occupier Alley Valkyrie told KEZI, “until they get themselves out of the mentality that this is a homeless camp, we’re just stuck in this lost-in-translation place,” backing this up with, “I am not homeless. I am at this camp.”

This stands in contrast to, well, all evidence, and the words of their own spokespeople. In a press conference this past Monday the speakers from Occupy emphasized that “the camp is home to hundreds of homeless people who are finding ways to sober up, catch up on sleep and contribute to the intentional community.” Sounds like UO students the morning after a post-finals celebratory binge.

The “official” Occupy Eugene website called the city council’s ruling a “milestone” to be celebrated, but were “disheartened” by the council’s decision to use some of the $300,000 to pay the police for their services. Right. It’s not like there have been 296 police calls to the park this year (as of December 11th) compared to 139 in 2010. That guy who almost got his fucking leg chopped off with an axe? Well, “everything that happens here, happens everywhere in society,” according to Occupy Eugene spokesperson Mike Elliot.

Yeah, we at the OC have totally been there, man.

As Jim West advised Dr. Arliss Loveless in the cinema classic Wild Wild West, “it’s time for you to stop all this foolishness.”

Occupy Eugene: you’ve made some waves, had some marches, and nearly chopped some legs. You have $100,000 for some nice, wet beds and new warming centers. Homelessness is not a problem that is ever going to be “solved,” at least not until our mental health and addiction treatment system is “fixed” (but no one gives a fuck about that, right?) Quit while you’re ahead.

And City Council, yeah, you: it’s a nice gesture to throw money at the problem, but the police costs are really just going straight down the toilet. Woman up, Piercy, and let the police clear out what used to be OUR CITY’S park. Once the police start making arrests and writing tickets the Occupiers will scatter faster than freshmen at a busted party.

As the Register-Guard observed:

A 22-year-old man who called himself “Skeeter” said he would leave the camp rather than risk a citation.

“How can I pay for a ticket? I don’t have any money,” he said, adding that he’d likely just leave Eugene.

Making the connections, yet?

Artist rendition of Occupier "Skeeter"

 

Only time will tell if, come January 11, the council holds firm in their decision to evict the camp. Until then, its up to Santa to take care of business:

 


 

Interim president named

Friday, December 9th, 2011

Berdahl for $200 Alex.

Love letter from said interim:

Dear faculty, staff, and students:

I am pleased to report to you that the Oregon State Board of Higher Education has asked me to serve as the interim president of the University of Oregon and that I have accepted their invitation.  I do so with a mixture of excitement, sadness, determination, and gratitude.

I am excited to return to the UO, where I came as a young faculty member and spent important years of my intellectual growth in the presence of wonderful and stimulating colleagues, some of whom remain on the faculty or engaged in the ongoing life of the University.  Although the UO is a much different institution, and a substantially better university than I left twenty-five years ago, I still feel that I am truly coming home.

However, I am saddened by the circumstances that have led to my assuming this position.  I believe that the UO has made important progress on all fronts under the leadership of Richard Lariviere and I have made it clear that, whatever its reasons, I believe the Board of Higher Education made a serious and damaging mistake in terminating his presidency at the UO.

I am also moved by a determination to carry forward the important agenda President Lariviere has outlined for the campus: taking important steps toward the development of genuinely independent governing board for the campus, continuing to assure alumni and supporters of the University that investing in this institution will yield substantial dividends for the State of Oregon, and working with Oregon leaders to restructure and improve all levels of education for Oregonians.  I have said repeatedly that the quality of the University of Oregon is better recognized outside of Oregon than within it.  We must work to persuade Oregonians of the treasure they have in the UO and why it deserves their support.

Clearly, securing a highly qualified permanent president who shares our visions of innovation and academic distinction will be among the top priorities for my term as interim president.  The University’s next president will have unprecedented opportunities to work with other higher education leaders and Oregon lawmakers in setting an ambitious course for the future, expanding the UO’s impact throughout the state and the world.  I intend to assist in recruiting the next president in whatever way I can.

Finally, I am filled with gratitude to the faculty and staff for the confidence you have expressed in me.  It will be difficult to meet the high expectations you have set for me or to provide the quality of leadership provided by President Lariviere, but I commit to you that I will do my best.  I look forward to working with you all as we move forward together.

Sincerely,

Robert M. Berdahl

So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, adieu

Thursday, December 8th, 2011

Email from President Lariviere:

Dear faculty, staff and students,

Words cannot convey all that I feel as my time as president comes to an end. It is an honor to be your colleague. In many ways, my job was as simple as holding a mirror to the institution — letting your great work speak for itself.

The outpouring of support you have shown has moved me deeply. You will continue to build on our momentum to make this university greater still. The leadership demonstrated on this campus these past few weeks gives me great optimism for that future.

Finally, please know how much Jan and I love this place. We have become part of you and part of this community, and you have become part of us.

From the bottom of my heart,

Richard

Here at the Commentator we will be using all of our available resources (which include a Sudsy suit and $3.28 in the couch cushions) to convince Lariviere to sing “So Long, Farewell.” Dear President Lariviere if you are reading this and would like to upload a video of you singing, please email the link to editor(at)oregoncommentator.com. And if you could get Assistant Vice President and Dean of Students Dr. Paul Shang to sing with you that would be all the better.

Ethical note: I’m bs-ing about the $3.28, who the hell is brave enough to search the Commentator couch? Lyzi, Lyzi, LaMichael, anyone?

I smell roses

Sunday, December 4th, 2011

Or maybe that’s meatloaf…

 

Emergency Senate Meeting Tomorrow

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

An emergency University Senate meeting has been scheduled for tomorrow, Wednesday November 30, 2011 at Mac Court, 3:00 pm – 3:10 pm. Pissed at Pernsteiner? He will be there, and Gov. Kitzhaber might show his face. This reporter will  be severely disappointed if she does not see at least one glitterbombing (or should it be hat-bombing?) take place.