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Archive for the 'Fiscal Responsibility' Category

OSPIRG: Relentless as ever to get their hands on our money

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

It’s come to our attention here at The Oregon Commentator that OSPIRG is trying to work its dirty magic again. They don’t seem to understand that we voted them out and that they are no longer recognized as campus group. Yet they keep coming back like a hippie zombie that feeds on student money instead of brains.

OSPIRG recently submitted proposals regarding renewed funding of their group through the student I-fees. Again they want to take our money and use it for their own inefficient, naive and frivolous plans. The OC has always been a vocal opponent of OSPIRG. Not just because they are a bunch of dirty hippies that don’t shower but also because the OC stands for fiscal conservatism. That isn’t going to change any time soon so look forward to more coverage on OSPIRG and their renewed plans to take your money in the next issue of The Oregon Commentator, which will be out this coming week.

Until then,
Go Ducks and Fuck OSPIRG.

OC and Daily Emerald Expelled from IAC Meeting

Monday, May 27th, 2013

Last Wednesday, the UO Senate’s Intercollegiate Athletics Committee (IAC) held a meeting at which AAD for Finance Eric Roedl was scheduled to give the IAC information about the athletic department’s budget and some projections about the next 6 years.

The UO Senate voted last week to require the Athletic Department to start paying back some of its subsidies, like that of the Matthew Knight Arena property, so this meeting had attracted myself from the Oregon Commentator, and two Daily Emerald reporters.

Right away there was tension in the air. This was the last IAC meeting of the school year and the AD still hadn’t released minutes from the previous meeting. Glen Waddell was met with an awkward silence when he asked about the delay in preparing the minutes.

“I’ve been really busy and haven’t gotten around to it,” the stenographer said.

Bill Harbaugh then asked IAC co-chair Andy Karduna if he had followed up on the request to the AD for the syllabus for the College of Education FHS 110 class that the athletics department requires all new players to take.

Karduna replied that he hadn’t, and had no plans to ever do so.

I had been under the impression that the IAC meeting was open to the public, as it was – until AAD Roedl realized that the media was present. And so began the discussion of whether or not to allow the media to stay during the presentation of revenue projections.

Some members of the IAC referred to the projections as “confidential… sensitive information”. When asked why projections would be “sensitive information”, those believing it to be sensitive did not want to discuss specifics because the reporters were still in the room.

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UO Keeps Out the Riff Raff

Saturday, May 4th, 2013

20130504-133350.jpg

Just kidding, that’s at UC Davis.

Here at the UO, getting the records you want can be sort of a hassle. UO Matters has attained public records from both the UO and OSU and the difference in what each institution deems “public” or a “conflict of interest” is disturbing. The difference in pay is understandable. Because Go Ducks? We’re better than beavers right? We gotta keep out the riff raff.

Tuition increase as proposed by Jim Bean and Brad Shelton

Friday, March 15th, 2013

I received this email today at 12:35pm, opened it around 2pm and hopped over to the meeting in question:

Just a reminder of the meeting TODAY in Jacqua Auditorium.

“Students are invited to attend a meeting with University Administration to discuss tuition proposals for the 2013-2014 academic year. The meeting is set for Friday, March 15 from 2:00-3:00pm in the Jacqua Center Auditorium. Students are also welcome to provide written feedback anytime before 5:00pm on Monday, March 18th by sending it to VPSA@uoregon.edu.”

Here are my notes:

I thought it was particularly funny that they hosted this in the Jock Box. The projected utility cost per year of the University of Oregon is 18 million dollars and going up one million every year. I chuckled to myself and then the wall behind all those bunched up letters changed colors.

University Provost Jim Bean said, “You shouldn’t have to take courses from professors who do not contribute to the research. You came here because we are a research university.”

There were about 40 people sitting in those comfy yellow racing seats including students, including students, GTFs and members of OSA and the ASUO. One member of the audience had his hand raised for a while and, when called on, remarked that he definitely did not come here because this was a research university. Many audience members snapped their fingers. I had to join them.

Apparently the University is facing major increases in operating expenses. One major factor is the recent spike in enrollment. They didn’t leave the “major factors” slide up very long, and Vice Provost Brad Shelton’s website hasn’t been updated in 18 months. I think everyone should email shelton(at)uoregon.edu and ask him the major factors. I will ask for the slides.

Tuition is currently 178 dollars per credit per hour and proposed to be increased 8 dollars making it 186. Full-time tuition will increase from 8,010 to 8,370 dollars at a 4.5% increase.

Non-residential students currently pay 608 dollars per credit hour. Proposed increase of 21 making it 629 per credit hour. Full-time students have a 3.45% increase from 27,360 to 28305 dollars.

“We are behind on salary for tenure track faculty,” Shelton said.

Comparisons were made to west coast universities in the AAU. The University of Oregon is ranked 80th. One audience member asked why exactly tuition had to increase as a partial result to more students, given that more students means more tuition.

The conversation turned back to expenditure, specifically that on utility, and the newly built power station was described as green and efficient “relatively”, Bean said but didn’t go into specifics.

Unfortunately, the UO had to borrow money from itself to build it. Jim Bean talked about debt: “It’s very effective and efficient to borrow money from ourselves from one part of the University to another.”

Shelton said, “An internal bank allows us to borrow from one fund source to another source and save money.”

Citing a Register Guard article from 2011, and audience member said that raises were on the table all over the Office Administrators with most having raises of over 10% all the while touting their “shared sacrifice” creed.

Provost Bean replied, saying “There was an across the board Office Administrative raise last year but no upper Office Administrative raises.”

Vice Provost Shelton explained that there is no firewall between auxiliary and general funds. The overhead that athletics and housing pays to University’s education of students is high.

The tuition and fee advisory board appointment process: The ASUO President appoints a student, the Provost Bean chooses a student member at large unaffiliated with the ASUO, and one graduate student recommended by fellow graduate students. Bean appoints the faculty members.

Jim Bean, Brad Shelton and OSA students discussed the implications of backing OSA in Salem in support of tuition decrease.

“We are allowed to lobby for specific things, while Oregon University System can lobby toward other things. Melanie Rose, Chancellor at OUS is someone to talk to and Betsy Boyd with the Dean of Students is organizing something.

Shelton talked about “balance”, saying, “What you want is exceptionally high financial aid. Low tuition is a subsidy for wealthy families.” Also, “As we become more independent, it will go in the opposite direction, smaller increases.”

One audience member from University of California said that the UC system used the same strategy of increasing tuition and financial aid at same time, firing classified staff and hiring more tenured faculty, sending students up here to out of state colleges. He asked, is this a repeat?

Provost Bean said, “No.”

And finally, the quote of the day, Jim Bean says, “If people cared about education as much as they cared about prisons in this state, legislators would lobby for it.”

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.”

8 cent prints up for review

Tuesday, October 9th, 2012

Library Systems Department took control of the three campus labs on September 1st, leading to the inclusion of these labs on Pharos, the pay-to-print system. This means that printing now costs 8 cents everywhere on campus instead of just Knight Library. I asked Nancy Slight-Gibney about the cost of printing and the process of determining the price that students pay. She responded in an email:

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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.

 

Pickin’ Up the Rose Bowl Tab: UO Athletics’ Excess, Extravagance

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

If you haven’t yet, skim it now. More nods and firm handshakes for Sam Stites and the ODE for its front page exposé: the cost of the Ducks Football, Inc Rose Bowl trip last January.

Well the magic number is $1,599,307 and the magic word is muthafuckinexcessive.

$220,107 was spent on transporting the 212-piece armada of players and staff for nine days. That’s $1038 per immortal football being.

Oh wait. Food and lodging for the fleet was $404,356. That’s an additional $1907 per person.

So in all we’ve got $2945 per footballer.

But more curiously is how much the Athletic Department spent on transporting an “official party” to accompany the armada: $123,851 for the transportation of 56 people. Now that’s $2211 per “official party member.”

Food and lodging was $95,483 for the civilian gaggle, an additional $1705 per person.

2211+1705=$3916 per official accompanying partygoer.

The ODE tells us that “the official party consists of athletic department officials, representatives of the University’s third-party rights holder IMG, and 6 students whose names were redacted from the list.”

It included UO Provost Lorraine Davis and “family” along with OC darlings Ben Eckstein and Katie Taylor.

I'm Lorraine. Yeah, it was all-expenses paid. Thanks bitches. xoxo

 

Ah, it’s all so clear now. Thank you, Sam Stites. Thank you, dearest ODE.

The numbers y’all found gives much elucidation on as to why the Athletic Department can gross $88 billion  but can only afford to..

1. Pay only 3% overhead back to the UO when other departments like University Housing pays %7

2. Run the athlete-only Jacqua Center on intended-for-students general state funding until this lucky break

3. Not set up an academic scholarship that was agreed to be started in 2006

4. Try and weasel the ASUO into giving them a budget raise, then subsequently deny any chance of more student tickets at Autzen

Because now I know that the Athletic Department has more important things on their tab. Like paying for lavish, all-inclusive $3916 So-Cal getaways for our greedy, beloved Athletic Dept bureaucrats, some “third party rights-holders,” and students like Katie muthafuckin’ Taylor.

Read the tab itself here.

 

 

Beckstein Saves $132,175

Friday, April 20th, 2012

After receiving a bitchy email and having a personal confrontation with the man himself, I’ve decided to report the only good thing that has come from Ben Eckstein’s presidency FOR TWO REASONS:

1)      The Commentator fiercely champions fiscal responsibility.

2)      Beckstein will be publicly humiliated at the upcoming Dotters-Katz v. ASUO Executive trial this Sunday (4pm at the Law School, but we’ll be covering it live here on the blog!) … and we are capable of feeling a very mild strain of remorse.

So here’s what happened.

During negotiations to lower the amount the ASUO pays back to the administration, ASUO Prez Ben Eckstein caught the UO in the act … of overcharging the ASUO by %1 in overhead assessment rates.

The ASUO was being charged %6 when it should have been %5.

6% X 13,217,538 = $793,052
5% X 13,217,538 = $660,877

$793,052 – $660,877 = $132,175

Jamie Moffit, the UO’s new Vice President of Finance and Administration, will be payin’ us back the difference.

*Factoid: Athletics pays %3 overhead while the ASUO pays %5.

Dear Beckstein,

Thanks for saving students the ASUO $132,175. I’m sure your executive staff and the ASUO Senate will somehow manage to allocate this money to some project we’re morally opposed to/the majority of students won’t know about. Nonetheless, thanks a bunch.

P.S. We’ll be Team Sam D-K on Sunday.

Sorry ‘bout it.

xoxo,

the OC

BEWARE THE BALLOT!

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

As you all know, the shit show that is ASUO Elections will take place immediately following our return from Spring Break. What you don’t know is that the shit has already hit the fan.

On the ballot, you will be asked if students should be able to vote directly on the funding– or defunding– of incidental fee programs.

You can imagine the subsequent upheaval among, well, us. And among the ASUO themselves.

Here’s what Former ASUO President Sam Dotters-Katz has to say about this:

The constitutional amendment about students voting for direct fee allocations is potentially the most damaging attack on the constitution I have seen. It would mean the budget process means nothing. They would literally be able to have a vote to defund the daily emerald.

Yeah, or students could defund The Commentator. Let’s not hold them to it..

Sen. Rudin has already submitted a “Petition For Review” to the ASUO Constitution Court. He says:

If this ballot measure is allowed to stay on the ballot and gets passed, it will be a disaster of epic proportions for the ASUO. It would mark the end of viewpoint neutrality and the end of separation of powers.

Well here it is y’all, Sen. Ben Rudin’s petition. Pay close attention to #4 !!!!

1. Name of person against whom grievance is filed: N/A. Petition for review, not a grievance

 

2. Question presented for review: Whether the direct-funding ballot measure that proposes amending ASUO Constitution §15.5.2 to allow initiative funding complies with the ASUO Constitution

 

3. Constitutional provision relevent to the controversy:

ASUO Constitution §15.5.5: The proposed ballot measure must be consistent with the ASUO Constitution

 

ASUO Constitution §2.3: No agency or program shall make any rule or take any action abridging the privileges and immunities of any person or program under the Constitution and laws of the United States or the State of Oregon, or the rules of the University of Oregon, or the ASUO Constitution

 

Viewpoint neutrality, as handed down by the Supreme Court in the Southworth decision as an interpretation to U.S. Constitution Amendment I: When a university requires its students to pay fees to support the extracurricular speech of other students, all in the interest of open discussion, it may not prefer some viewpoints to others.[1]

 

“To the extent the referendum substitutes majority determinations for viewpoint neutrality, it would undermine the constitutional protection the program requires. The whole theory of viewpoint neutrality is that minority views are treated with the same respect as are majority views. Access to a public forum, for instance, does not depend upon majoritarian consent. That principle is controlling here”[2]

 

[A] university’s student association “violated the First Amendment by using an advisory student referendum to determine how to allocate funds from a mandatory student activity fee among student organizations.” According to the Amidon court, use of a student referendum reflecting the student body’s majority opinion has “no place in the funding allocation process, which requires that `minority views [be] treated with the same respect as majority views.'” Amidon, 508 F.3d at 102 (quoting Southworth I, 529 U.S. at 235).[3]

 

4. Statement of Facts:

1. On March 19, 2012, President Eckstein submitted a ballot measure to the Constitution Court that asks, “Should students be allowed to vote directly on funding levels for certain incidental-fee funded programs?“

 

2. On March 19, 2012, the ballot measure was approved by Con Court, without prejudice

 

The courts have been clear ever since Southworth that funding decisions for recognized student groups and advocacy organizations cannot be determined by a vote of the student body because it allows the majority of students to engage in viewpoint discrimination against minority views. The initiative by President Eckstein, if approved by the voters, will result in funding decisions being based on just that.

 

Furthermore, if this initiative is approve and implemented, it will force the elected branches to fund whatever the majority of voting students think should be funded and make impossible the elected branches ability to make funding decisions in a viewpoint neutral way. Funding an organization because the majority agrees with its viewpoint is viewpoint discrimination. If this initiative is approved, the elected branches will be force take actions that abridge the privileges and immunities of students at the University of Oregon, in violation of §2.3.

 

5. Remedy requested: Because this ballot measure enables viewpoint discrimination, it does not comply with the ASUO Constitution, so I am asking the Constitution Court order it removed from the ballot.

 

6. Exigent circumstances: Spring Break is coming up at the end of the week and elections are right after. This needs to be decided before elections.



[1] Bd. of Regents v. Southworth, 529 U.S. 217, 233 (U.S. 2000)

[2] Id. at 235.

[3] Christian Legal Society v. Eck, 625 F. Supp. 2d 1026, 1040 (D. Mont. 2008)

 

And for the record, the OC loves Senator Ben Rudin.

 

Students SCORE on Athletics, March on MATT

Friday, March 2nd, 2012

On the crisp night that was Thursday the first of March, the University of Oregon Student Coalition on Reprioritizing Education embarked on its maiden voyage towards what’s written up there on ASUO Senator Molly Bacon’s sign. Athletic Department Accountability.

While it was certainly–but not exclusively– an ASUO affair, students came together to protest the UO Athletic Department’s lack of transparency and cooperation. The Commentator was there to show its support, like it damn well should have been. I mean c’mon, after all the harping we do about athletics. Well, let me be more specific. I was there to show my support, like I damn well should have been– after all the harping I do about athletics.

Along with a substantial smattering of normal student participants, it should be noted that many ASUO Senators and Executive Staff were present, including President Ben Eckstein and VP Katie Taylor. Oh, and President Eckstein was adamant that I relay the fact that he went “casual-yet-political” at this event, donning a gray Obama crewneck sweatshirt and jeans. As for VP Taylor, I couldn’t tell ya what she was wearing. Members of the ODE whom I will keep unnamed and myself acknowledged and lauded her decision to steer clear of us, the press.

Before their march on MATT Court, rally participants gathered at the EMU amphitheater, where they were provided with picket signs without pickets, and were roused with a few words from the SCORE campaign coordinators. I was able to get a hold of the hard copies of their little speeches, and have quoted parts of each below. Cedar Cosner, a SCORE coordinator and ASUO elections coordinator alike, spoke first:

Rob Mullens, we are calling on you today to consider your successes, to consider what all of that would be without us. Give it Back. All of you now are here because you appreciate that sentiment. It is said that it never rains in Autzen. Well, it may be raining here and now [it wasn't...], but that does not erase our conviction. That does not soften our resolve. We shall be heard. We shall be seen. We shall make those in charge quake with the implications of our stand. We are the University of Oregon, we are Ducks, we are students, and we deserve better!

Cosner was followed by SCORE coordinator Andrew Rodgers, who is also the ASUO Communications Director:

Student Athletes deserve to be treated as students first. They deserve the support of an Athletics Department and a school administration that places the highest emphasis on our Academic mission. We all deserve this…Why are donors actively incentivized to contribute to Athletics over Academics? Why isn’t the admistration excersizing oversight in the affairs of Rob Mullens and all of the administrators of the Athletics Department? They owe it to each and every one of us to do so but they have failed in that charge.

And then they were off. They sauntered over to MATT, did a little chanting, and complied with all event security requests. The rally went absolutely swimmingly, and met only minor adversity– adversity that included some douches yelling “Go home” and “Why don’t you just enjoy the game like normal people” and “Wow, you’re really making a difference.” If you’re into that sort of discourse, I encourage you to explore the comments section of the rally’s Ol’ Dirty article for more tactless bro-interjections– each complete with its own futile rebuttal written by an anonymous (or identifed!) member (or former member) of the ASUO.

Although I lost my pen sometime during the excitement and tumult of it all, SCORE campaign coordinator Andrew Rodgers obliged me with a brief debriefing after the rally had come to a close. With my bare thumbs in the 30 degree weather, I typed his words frantically into a text message. Here is what I managed to transcribe and save as a draft:

great start in our mission to make a more account able coommunity lac of inst control disinvesment when we put so much emph on athletic

That isn’t completely unintelligible is it? All the key words are there. You get it. It’s not like there’s much to be said about the motivations, or the implications, of SCORE’s campaign that isn’t evident anyway. (Although there’s always this if you need some solid, angry Anti-Oregon-Athletics closing arguments) . Because as for me, and as for those involved with the campaign, the idea is basic and clear. The University of Oregon is an institution of higher education, and our athletics have proven to be an important, successful part of that whole. But that’s just it– athletics is a contributing part of a bigger entity than itself– no matter how much revenue it generates, no matter how much national attention it brings.  The Athletic Department needs to get better at remembering that it’s just a part among many, not an independent whole. It needs to get better at channeling its success, and the fruits of its success, towards the the university’s fundamental and foremost purpose. I understand that by picketing an important basketball game– messages can get muddled. Nonetheless, it’s a shame, because I know that most of the students who strode past the protest and into the arena weren’t able recognize that the small noisy crowd who stood outside of the arena– stood outside, cold and noisy, for THEM–and for their money, and for their well being.

To close, I’m gonna use some imagery, so bear with me here. Behold below, the second photograph I’ve so gratefully borrowed from the ODE’s Tess Freeman.

Now look closely. I don’t spend much time in MATT Court, nor do I have a blueprint or a seating chart of the place. With that, I cannot tell you what it means, nor what it takes, to be able to wheel around on the top floor of the arena. But if you look up there, beyond the clamor and high above, you can see amongst that artsy wood paneling and that fucking ambient lighting, a few shadowy figures gazing ominously upon our little student protest. Like I said, it was a big game that night. So I wonder who those figures are, and what inflated role they play in the athletic department. I wonder what they were thinking when they saw this. I contemplate this and it gives me hope.

 

 

 

To OSPIRG, With Love from ASUO Senator Ben Rudin

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

While I trust that any reader of the OC blog is in-tune with the OSPIRG controversy, last night ASUO Senator Ben Rudin delivered an eloquent dissent before the final ACFC budget was passed by a splintered ASUO Senate body. It wasn’t humanly possible to transcribe Senator Rudin’s statement in real time on CoverItLive– so we’ve got the transcription here just for you, concerned reader. He relays the OSPIRG plight quite nicely:

 

Direct question to anyone supporting OSPIRG and wants to answer: why do you think OSPIRG is so controversial? [get answers]

I’ll say right now, I’ll leave the arguments against the insane 97% increase to my colleagues, because to me the issue isn’t the amount, it’s the principle. The reason it is so controversial, and the reason I’m adamantly against this budget, is it flies in the face of people’s freedom to contribute to the political causes they support and refrain from supporting political causes they oppose. You wanna talk student autonomy? It’s the autonomy of every individual student. Freedom of association a fundamental right every individual has and it should remain that way for their time at this University. Anything else is slap in the face to student autonomy.

At this point I usually hear something like “I might not agree with funding athletics, or LTD, or Campus Recycling, but you’re suggesting I should still have to pay for those. How is it different?” It’s fundamentally different. Governments make public policy choices all the time, and funding decisions that reflect them. For example, take the war in Iraq. You may oppose it, as I did for most of its duration, but it’s a legitimate public policy decision. To start the process of correcting such mistakes, we have the First Amendment, which ensures we can protest, petition, lobby, advocate, the list goes on, and government cannot dictate, control, encourage, or prohibit that process. It is to ensure we have the ability to raise awareness of injustices going on, and government is unable to do anything about it.

So government can tax me to pay for its wars, even if I disagree with them, but I’ll be damned if government uses even a penny of my money to manipulate the processes protected by the First Amendment, processes that are specifically meant to protect individuals’ rights to persuade government to change course, or voters to change course in the ballot box.

At this point I usually hear, “Rudin, you’re at a loss. We have viewpoint neutrality. We fund advocacy groups all the time, as it’s part of our mission of fostering a dynamic discussion on political, religious, social, and cultural issues.” You’re right about that. I am all about providing students the tools to engage in such dynamic discussions, and we do that very well by funding our programs, including but not limited to Students for Choice, Students for Life, and the Commentator. Furthermore, if a group of students came before us saying “We’re very passionate about [this issue]. We’ve gotten a group of students together who really want to make a difference on this issue! We want to go advocate about this in Salem, and we just need some money to get there and back and take care of any other logistics.” My response would be, “done, I’m voting for this.”

You can argue it all you want, but that is not what funding OSPIRG is. Funding OSPIRG would be like a group of students coming before us saying “We’re very passionate about [this issue]. We’ve got a group of students together who really want to make a difference on this issue. We really want to see something done about this, so we need some money to pay the salary of someone to advocate in Salem full-time and year-round on [this issue].” And my response would be, “I love your passion, I admire the hard work you do, and while you don’t have a claim to other people’s money to pay someone to advocate on your issue, the door is always open if you are wanting to go to Salem yourself and need some financial help to do it.” That’s the key difference. I’ll say it again, I am all about having a student body engaged, informed, and acting on issues, and I’m all about spending the money so students can do that. No matter how much you say otherwise, paying professional advocates is not doing that. It’s like making your own outline versus buying a commercial. Most of the value is in creating the outline, not the finished product. That is lost when someone just buys a commercial outline, and that is analogous to hiring professional advocates. Professional advocates are where the bulk of the money for OSPIRG goes, and why I’m against it. If you are willing to vote for such a thing in all situations, ok, you’re being viewpoint neutral and I just completely disagree, but if you are voting for OSPIRG’s because you think they provide a service based on the issues they advocate, you are suggesting those who advocate a different or contrary issue are performing a disservice. That is viewpoint discrimination.

Another thing I hear is, “You’re not going after OSA and USSA and they’re just like OSPIRG!” No they’re not. From the perspective of a student service, they are opposites. OSA and USSA like an organization coming before us saying “We’ve got a great training program. We’re all about training students how to effectively lobby and then giving the experience to go lobby in Salem! This is a valuable service for students and an important skill to have, and we just need some money so we can provide this training and experience to your students!” My response would be “done! You got my vote.” That is completely different from students saying they’re passionate about an issue so they have a right to use a mandatory fee to pay someone to advance their political agenda. I don’t care how many students agree with the viewpoint, the advancement of a political agenda is not a student service.

That brings me to a final point. Unlike OSA and USSA, OSPIRG is a 501(c)(3). I assume most of you don’t speak tax law, so a 501(c)(3) simply means a charitable cause. You donate to them, you get a tax deduction for donating to charity. That’s all well and good, except Senate Rule 12.5(a)(M) says “at no time may incidental fee monies be donated to charitable causes.”  You might be thinking “this isn’t a donation, it’s a contract.” I hate to break it to you, but donations are contracts. For example, if someone donates to the UO Foundation for a specific project, that is a donation. It’s also a contract because if the UO Foundation misuses the money, the donor has recourse. The way a contract is not a donation is if a quid pro quo (this for that) is involved. For example, we contract with the Emerald, and they publish us newspapers. We contract with SASS, and they provide us free sexual assault support services. We contract with OSPIRG, and most of the money goes to professional advocates trying to create what some people consider a “better world.” Giving an organization money in exchange for bettering the world, THAT IS A DONATION. Not only do I find this expenditure fundamentally wrong for it amounts to coerced speech, but it potentially violates the Senate rules. I urge a no vote in the strongest possible terms.

Constitutional Court Finds in Favor of Rudin, ACFC to Hold New Vote

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

In a shocking and heartening turn of events, someone out there doesn’t want to throw money at OSPIRG’s feet, and the right people decided to listen: on February 26th, the Con Court ruled in favor of Rudin on his viewpoint neutrality grievance against Bowman, according to the ODE. The stage is now set for the ACFC to vote again on the matter of OSPIRG’s funding.

The necessary majority within the court found Bowman’s pro-OSPIRG statements violated viewpoint neutrality, a precedent set by the Supreme Court which the ASUO is obligated to follow. The ACFC will now be required to hold another vote on whether OSPIRG will receive that whopping 97% increase, which will be held Wednesday.

In response to the decision, Rudin noted, “I was pleased that Con Court agreed with what I have been saying all along, that we must allocate student fee money based on services provided, not viewpoint of the organization.”

Opposition to the decision seems to already be pouring into the inbox of the ODE Opinion office, with people gnashing their teeth over the fact that OSPIRG isn’t going to have their $86k budget nearly doubled without a little oversight. We here at the Commentator, however, congratulate Senator Rudin for taking away the ACFC’s rubber stamp for the time being. We might be able to put the money we would’ve otherwise had to pay OSPIRG into some hot stripper’s thong, yet.

For a full breakdown of the of the Ben v. Ben extravaganza, look no further.

Students Start to Stand, Stick It to Oregon Athletics

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

Last Wednesday, deep in the depths of the labyrinth that is McKenzie Hall, free pizza was served and debate over athletic department transparency was had.

In a comforting demonstration of student and faculty concern, SCORE, the UO’s very own Student Coalition on Reprioritizing Education, held a Discussion Panel on UO Athletic Department Transparency. The discussion was a part of SCORE’s “campaign to secure a yearly financial contribution from the Athletics department back to the university to help students.”

The Oregon Commentator wasn’t there of course, but the Ol’ Dirty Emerald tells us that the discussion panel included a few “special guests:” Nathan Tublitz and Bill Harbaugh — both on the Intercollegiate Athletics Committee of University Senate — and Laurel Hess of the women’s club rugby team and Lena Macomson of the women’s varsity tennis team.

Harbaugh called the UO’s predicament “a nightmare.”

Tublitz declared that “We are an academic institution, not a business.”

Speaking on the UO Athletic Department’s disregard for Club Sports, Hess said: “They don’t want a relationship with us on any level.”

And Macomson vowed to meet with athletic director Rob Mullens to “discuss issues surrounding transparency in order to get the student-athlete opinion heard.”

SCORE coordinator Andrew Rodgers was pleased with the discussion, calling it an “open and intricate dialogue on the issue.”

Look, there’s nothing intricate about it. All I got from that is the University of Oregon Athletic Department is an, unaccountable, conniving pain in the ass–which it isn’t.

It’s a an expensive, unaccountable, conniving pain in the ass.

And speaking of expensive, unaccountable, conniving pains in the ass, the ACFC and ASUO met with Garrett Klassy– Executive Director of the Duck Athletic Fund– to discuss student ticket fees on Tuesday.

Klassy requested a 3% budget increase. The Athletic Department already receives $1.5 million from student fees for tickets, and the %3 increase would have amounted to an additional $48,000.

Did you know that the UO Athletic Department generated $88 million in 2011?

Let’s go over that again: THE UO ATHLETIC DEPARTMENT GENERATED 88 MILLION DOLLARS IN 2011 AND ASKED THE ACFC FOR AN ADDITIONAL $48,000.

Well, as reported in the ODE by the lovely, the luxurious, Emily Schiola: ACFC decided in a 4-0-0 vote on a zero percent increase. [ACFC Chair and ASUO Senator Ben] Bowman mentioned that since they have to turn in their budget to ASUO Senate by Thursday, Klassy will have to come back before then and explain if athletics is willing to agree with this decision.

“We don’t have more funds to allocate to the student-ticket program,” ASUO President Ben Eckstein said. “$48,000 is a big deal to the ASUO. I don’t think we can accept a deal that doesn’t reconcile this difference.”

Yes, this is a bible reference. And no, I don't want to hear it.

So there you have it, Athletics. Through ACFC and ASUO we’re denying you $48,000. Through SCORE we’re congregating and talkin’ shit.

Baby steps, maybe. But steps nonetheless.

So watch yourself. With that bible reference up there I think I’ve earned us the support of the Christian Deity. And even if He doesn’t exist– we’ve got a whole lotta’ morality.

Good ol’ secular morality. Something that you will never have.

P.S.

SCORE is holding a Rally next Thursday, March 1 at 7pm at the Matt Knight Arena to bring attention to the issue of Athletics’ lack of financial accountability and transparency. People will be in line for the game which starts at 7:30.

Suspicious Erection, Down by the River

Monday, February 6th, 2012

On November 21st last year, GoDucks.com unveiled the University of Oregon’s plans to “expand” the Casanova Center.

Because apparently, this shit doesn’t suffice:

Well, way over yonder and across the bridge, construction has indeed begun, among that pretentious little colony of sports complexes along the northern bank of the Willamette. And it’s turning out to be nice and underhanded. Just the way Oregon Athletics likes it.

Yesterday, The Ol’ Dirty Emerald confirmed that “expansion is under way, yet no University administrators or athletics officials know much about the project.” In fact, the ODE’s Sam Stites was denied his request for an on-site walk-though and interview.

That’s because it isn’t a University project.

Instead, the UO has leased out the land to a company called Phit LLC — which is actually Phil Knight, disguised as a building development group. What happens is this: “Phit” picks the contractor and the architecture firm, then erects this new Casanova Center. And when it’s all finished, the land will be given back to the UO as a gift.

We are sooooo sneaky!

According to the ODE, “Both Williford and Vice President for Finance and Administration Jamie Moffitt said they don’t know the cost of the project. According to the permit applications filed with the City of Eugene, the total value of the project came to $63.3 million. The site work alone — rerouting site utilities, demolition of portions of the Casanova Center, pathways and the relocating of the cooling tower — cost $1.75 million. With the expansion planned for adding an extra 130,000 square feet, the cost per square foot is $484.”

Despite the UO Athletic Department’s “lack of transparency” regarding the expansion, or what I really like to think of  as the UO Athletic Department’s “blissful, grateful, ignorance and submission” to the expansion, GoDucks.com is quite explicit in their description of the anticipated Casanova Center. The expansion will include:

1. “a new 25,000-square-foot weight room”

Because anything less than 25,000 square feet would have been, well, practical.

2. “an enhanced grass football practice field as well as the addition of two new synthetic turf practice fields – and a full-service dining facility”

Because practice makes perfect, and perfection requires on-site dining, of course.

3. “a lobby and reception area– which is expected to rise to a height of six floors at some points — that will celebrate the proud history of the Ducks’ football program, and will accentuate the achievements of past and present Oregon football coaches, individual players and teams.”

Oh thank God. Because honestly, if the UO is lacking in anything at all, it’s recognition for the football team. Am I right? AM I RIGHT though?

4.  “a centralized football operations center– the heart of the facility– will be cloaked in black metal and glass and will include nine dedicated football position meeting rooms, two (COUNT ‘EM, TWO) team video theaters, offense and defense strategy rooms as well as a larger conference suite for the entire coaching staff.”

Wait, hold on. The athletics department has a heart? And the heart of the athletics department is a football operations center? And this heart is cloaked in black metal and glass?

5. “Additional amenities that will include a players’ lounge, a recruiting center to host prospective student-athletes, dedicated areas to accommodate professional scouts, a media interview room as well as an advanced video editing and distribution center.”

Look, are you going to make me convince you of the necessity of these amenities ?

As for the aesthetics of the new Casanova Center, bitches get ready! This shit’s bein’ built by Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Architects (ZGF). Big surprise right? They’re the same guys who built the Jacqua!  I was reading this Portland Architecture blog,  and boy, get a load of this. The new building is going to be “a series of glass and metal boxes meant to evoke the nature of football itself.” What!

“The idea of the building  is about collective strength that comes from individuals,” Sandoval (ZGF Architects partner Gene Sandoval) said. “So it’s a series of stacked boxes, like Lego boxes, that make a form. We want to celebrate each piece and make it sing. In some ways that’s analogous to a team: they all have different positions, but it’s about making a congruent entity.”

The building will be clad in glass and metal, hoping to strike a balance between protection and openness. “The exterior envrolope takes on the notion of armor and pads, so it’s going to be a black suit of armor,” Sandoval added. “But it’s translucent armor. It’s glass. There is this sort of play between strength and accessibility. We’re formidable but open. All the ground floor is glass and all the meeting rooms. It’s about texturing and layering.”

I’m sorry, it seems I’m suddenly overcome with the pathos and the profundity of those statements. I’m at a loss for words.

Completion is targeted for Summer of 2013, but for the meantime, here are some painted renditions of the new center, from the future.

Circa 2091: "Twilight Time at Le Nouveau Centre de Casanova" by Computer

 

Circa 2092: "Twilight Time at Le Nouveau Centre de Casanova, Part Deux" by Computer

 

Circa 2093: "Twilight Time at Le Nouveau Centre de Casanova, Part Trois" by Computer