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Archive for the 'Interviews' Category

UOPD Interview with Photos

Thursday, February 21st, 2013

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

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Interview with Salem Flagpole Climber

Friday, May 11th, 2012

Perry Graham

Last Tuesday, or perhaps it was Wednesday, I was riding my bicycle home down Alder St. While passing The Lorax, I noticed a man strapped to a light post, climbing up. He was perhaps 25 feet high. He seemed intent on his task, sliding the straps and pulling himself up.

I rode past, not thinking much about it. Then, Thursday afternoon, I saw a press release with his picture in front of the capitol building. He is part way up a flagpole with a banner hanging under him that reads, “Schools or trees? We want both.” According to OregonLive.com, Perry Graham, who climbed the flagpole in Salem, is a member of the Cascadia Forest Defenders. On their website, the group expresses their desire for Gov. John Kitzhaber and the Oregon Land Board to “decouple public school funding from state forest management.”

The land board approved a plan for the Elliott State Forest last October which notably increases logging and clear-cutting with the revenue contributing to the Common School Fund.

By chance, I met Perry at a friend’s house about two hours ago. He, our mutual friend, and other friends were hanging out, discussing our midterm woes and other things when he brought up a photograph one of his fellow protesters took using his phone.

Myself: “That was you? I saw you practicing the other day!”

Graham: “On Alder?”

Myself: “Yeah! How high were you in the picture?”

Graham: “Probably about 60-70 feet.”

Myself: “How was that?”

Graham: “It was really surreal. I strapped myself to the pole and I was like, ‘Oh fuck, I’m on the pole. Oh fuck, I’m climbing up. Oh fuck, there’s a cop right there.’ ”

Myself: “What were their reactions?”

Graham: “I didn’t talk to them. I had a liaison communicating information.”

Myself: “Oh, I see. Was that because you were so high up that they couldn’t, like hear you without yelling? Or because you didn’t want to talk to the cops?”

Graham: “I mean, kind of both”

Myself: “Right. So, how long did you train for this?”

Graham: “I practiced for about 5 weeks before and pretty intensely the last week.”

OregonLive.com’s post:

Perry Thompson Graham, 23, climbed about 80-feet up the pole at 7:45 a.m. He stayed aloft for about 90 minutes before he came down voluntarily.[...] After his arrest, Graham was taken to the Marion County Jail. He will be charged with disorderly conduct, criminal trespass and criminal mischief, according to a police press release.ell, Wednesday morning, climbs flag pole in front of the capital building in Salem.

The flag was still hanging when Graham descended the flag pole. Apparently, rented equipment was needed to remove Graham’s protest banner from the flagpole.

KEZI9 Covers ASUO Phishing Scam

Tuesday, April 10th, 2012

So, we’ve all heard about the ASUO phishing scam, but just in case you were too lazy, busy or hungover to read anything about this fucked up shit, here is the story via this KEZI9 Youtube video to save you some time.

Former ASUO President and current UO Law Student Sam Dotters-Katz in the video: “I think that we’ve gone beyond student government at this point, when you have federal crimes being implicated against members of the student government.”

Word up, Sam! Indeed, this kind of shit simply doesn’t fly. This is what is wrong with America. My only further comments are, “YES THIS GOES BEYOND STUDENT GOVERNMENT,” as well as “HOW SELF-RIGHTEOUS DO YOU HAVE TO BE IN ORDER TO ATTEMPT TO RIG A COLLEGE ELECTION???”

Furthermore, “FUCK YOU, YOU HYPOCRITICAL PIECE OF SHIT, SUPPOSEDLY FIGHTING FOR JUSTICE AND EQUALITY. THE RULES APPLY TO YOU AS MUCH AS ANYONE ELSE, NO MATTER HOW ENTITLED YOU THINK YOU ARE!”

Face-palm. Goddamn.

Ben Eckstein: Confidential

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

What does ASUO President Benjamin Eckstein think about the termination of President Lariviere? That is an excellent question and even though I interviewed Eckstein about the matter I am still left wondering. Below is a summary of the interview. The amount of time it takes you to read is the amount of time the interview lasted. He should get an award for being diplomatic.

Because the majority of the EMU was closed for Thanksgiving the interview took place in the back room of the ASUO office. In the office, there was a pepper shaker but no salt shaker, which I found suspicious but decided to ignore it and start the interview.

Eckstein started out by saying that him and Lariviere have had their disagreements but he respects Lariviere very much and has every intention on working with him if he is allowed to stay. So forth and so on.

Then he mentioned that there are smart people on both sides with good points, and this is a good discussion to have at the state level because it is important.

I thought I had him when he said it’s good it is happening, but he meant that it’s a big issue and should be handled by the state.

After a little prodding (I reminded him that he is a politician and he has to have more to say about the future of his university) he said that he is going to do everything in his power to make sure that students are being held at the forefront of all these decisions because they are they ones being affected. He wants to “give them a seat at the table when decisions are being made.”

He said, “Students should be meaningfully involved and consulted.” He wants to make sure that  people who usually don’t have a voice in these kinds of circumstances have a say in things that will be directly impacting them.

When asked about his testimony, he said it will basically be about students. It seemed like he had students on his mind.

I will try to crack this nut again after the decision is made. But for now, well played Eckstein.

Sorry, Dan

Sunday, November 6th, 2011

Dan Savage visited the University of Oregon for a few days last week, gathering content for an upcoming MTV show/special/saturnalia on college dating, sex, and relationships. During the taping of a Nov. 2 Q&A session in the Ford Alumni Center Savage was “glitterbombed” by a member of a group calling themselves “The Dan Savage Welcoming Committee.” This committee, which should maybe reconsider the truthfulness of their moniker, called the “It Gets Better” project founder a “transphobe,” “racist and misogynist and a rape-apologist, too!” before fleeing the room.

At this time no charges have been filed and Savage has not made a comment, but we here at the Commentator would like to take a moment to thank these brave protesters who possessed the clarity and courage to take offense with one of the most vocal gay-rights activists in the nation. It is truly a story one could only here at the U of O, and it is what gives us the reputation as a group of rational, mature young adults and not self-righteous children who confuse “activism” and “justice” with “picketing” and “successfully causing a scene.” Go ducks!

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/02/dan-savage-glitterbombed-oregon-transphobia-_n_1071627.html

Christian preacher stirs up controversy in the EMU Amphitheater

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

“I have become a preaching machine!”

Thumping a well-worn blue Bible, Jed Smock – or Brother Jed, as he likes to be called – is one of the new faces generating controversy around the EMU Amphitheater for his confrontational preaching method. Sporting a bowtie, a sweater vest and a blue blazer, Brother Jed addresses individuals in the amphitheater audience and calls out to “wicked” and “promiscuous” students about how to “change their ways and follow Christ.”

A self-admitted “former hippie” who “found Jesus on a hippie commune in Africa,” Brother Jed is usually met with disdain, mockery and impassioned debate from students, groups such as the Alliance of Happy Atheists and random people walking by the amphitheater.

I had a chance to sit down with Brother Jed and talk about his presence on the University of Oregon.

Oregon Commentator: Why did you decide to preach in the University of Oregon amphitheater?
Brother Jed: I mean, you’re not going to get college students to get up and go to church early in the morning. So we need to go to them.
OC: Would you say you’ve made an impact [on campus]?
BJ: Oh, yes. I was just talking to someone who recently started reading the Bible. I get letters on my website, brotherjed.org, letters I’ve received from student over the years. They go something like this: “Dear Brother Jed, Your preaching made me so mad that I started reading the Bible to prove you wrong.” And then they find the faith!
OC: So is provoking people the main way you get your message across? It seems very in-your-face, very uncomfortable.
BJ: Yes, you need to engage the audience. I call it confrontational evangelism. The radical left [in the 1960s] talked of “confrontational politics,” really challenging the establishment. Whether you agree with their position or not, it worked… So yes, I want to stir up controversy and dialogue and debate… all college students are thinking about is mundane. They’re not asking “What is our moral foundation?” They aren’t the true questions, the right questions. They’re just focused on “Oh, I’ve got a test today” and “I hope I get laid tonight.” You’re distracted from God.
OC: Let’s talk a bit about how you became a Christian. You mentioned that you lived on a hippie commune in Africa…?
BJ: Yes, I did. One day a man who was dressed in Arabic attires – you know, a turban, a robe, all that – came preaching Jesus to us on Christmas Day, 1971. And we all laughed at him! But as a historian I had to admit that the Bible has great literary qualities. I mean, I was the son of an English professor and some of the greatest works of literature have been inspired by the Bible. So I thought I should read it for academic and spiritual purposes. I was going to study under the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in India but I thought “Why don’t I study my religion instead?”
OC: So Judaism, Islam and Christianity all recognize Jesus as a prophet.
BJ: Well, the Jews don’t.
OC: Right. But still, all three religions come from the tree of Abraham. Would you say there’s kinship between Jews, Muslims and Christians?
BJ: Islam denies that Jesus died on the cross. The Qur’an says that “God had no son”… so really Islam is an attack on Christianity. They deny Jesus’ sacrifice. We’re different. No, we believe in the Trinity. We believe Jesus is God!
OC: Has being in academia informed how you preach?
BJ: Yes. I remember reading the Bible and wanting to tell the good news to people! But there’s only so much you can do inside a building, so I decided to go outside.
OC: Would you say you appeal to reason in your preaching?
BJ: It’s about preaching but it’s also about teaching. It’s an appeal to man’s conscience, recognizing this party lifestyle and trying to get them thinking about their life. Most students aren’t thinkers, they’re feelers. So I appeal to that emotion.
OC: Let’s talk about Satan. Do you believe in Satan, that there is an evil force out there?
BJ: I do believe in a fallen angel, Lucifer does mean “bringer of light.” He was perfect in all of his. But they found sin in him. So he rally one third of the angels to rebel against God. Now that took a long time, that’s not an overnight thing… I do believe Lucifer became frustrated with God because God governs the universe not by sheer force but by love. And love puts restraints on us all. It’s like our soldiers over in Afghanistan… if we didn’t have this Christian morality, we’d just wipe ‘em all out, get it over with, y’know? [Laughs] But God is about love, so we can’t do that. God is gonna demonstrate that love always wins. The Devil has all this experience in the realms of hate and power, but what looks stronger than Jesus hanging on the cross? Love defeated hate on the cross. Love will defeat evil.
OC: Would you say the devil is on college campuses? How do you reason that?
BJ: I do believe in demonic possession. I don’t think any students are possessed, but the Devil does influence us with temptations.
OC: What kind of temptations?
BJ: The drugs, the alcohol and the sex before marriage… they all make us morally weak. Drugs and alcohol puts our conscience to sleep. And the music! They’re listening to this decadent rock music, or hip-hop and this music is seductive!
OC: Thank you for your time, Brother Jed.

A story on the controversy surrounding Brother Jed will be available in the forthcoming Commentator.

New Issue Preview: LTD Screamer John Brewster

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

Photo credit: Rockne Andrew Roll

This man will be profiled in the issue of the Commentator hitting campus this Monday. Here’s a little taste, the reasons behind his decision to urinate on the floor of a Sprinfield jail:

“They brought me over there. When they take you from Lane County over there, they take you to a bathroom. You’ve got cameras on you, so I turn around, showed them my buns. They gave me hell for that.”

All laughter aside, John Brewster is homeless and about to be kicked out of his campsite in Goshen. The campsite is the most important thing in the world to him, his pride and joy. He calls it “paradise,” and he’s gutted to lose it. He doesn’t know where he’ll go from there. He asked me to tell people that, if they want to help him out, they should e-mail him at johnbrewster60@gmail.com.

Lariviere agrees to meet with Oregon Commentator

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

I have a coffee meeting with President Lariviere on April 7th.

If you have anything you’d like me to say/ask, either leave a comment here or email me at editor[at]oregoncommentator[dot]com.

Oh Bother

Thursday, March 3rd, 2011

“On the other hand, if you’re a 3.9 student, why the hell would you apply some place that only requires a 3.4?

Question— (in the Spirit of Lariviere) Why the hell would a University President say something like that?

Yes, yes, this is part of a larger quote talking about the inadequacy of the automatic admissions policy (as covered below by Alex), but the statement in itself is astounding. Having a requirement of a 3.4 GPA does not signal that certain students don’t belong at a University. Besides, prospective students don’t just look at the GPA requirement they look at our culture, our sports and our highly ranked programs (like the Business School).

Perhaps we are not an Ivy League college, but that doesn’t mean that 3.9 students don’t belong here. Nor, does it mean that only 3.9 students belong at Ivy League schools.

As Lariviere noted elsewhere in his interview, the 3.4 GPA is NOT A REQUIREMENT, but rather an automatic acceptance for Oregon students. It says, “hey, y’all did OK in High School, so we’ll let you in.” Not “Unless you have higher than a 3.4, you must find another college to attend.” Moreover, if Penn, Cornell, Princeton& Dartmouth don’t have minimum GPA requirements, should 3.9 students write-off those colleges? If Columbia is looking for students with a GPA above 3.0 should 3.9 students write those off as well? Most definitely, out of state students with said GPA should not even bother to apply to Berkeley, for they only require a 3.4.

I appreciate that President Lariviere stepped outside of press-releases and scripted answers and had an honest conversation, but in questioning why 3.9 students would apply to the the University of Oregon, he is telling the very students he leads that the UO is just a consolation prize. He completed the statement by saying “So we’re just sending the wrong message to everybody.” Perhaps the automatic GPA needs to be cut, but having a GPA requirement or an automatic admission’s GPA cutoff doesn’t say anything about the competitiveness or worth of the University. 

Also, yes, I have a coffee date set with the President, and yes, I probably just threw away all chances of that happening but I am not going cease writing for the next two weeks, or skirt around important issues- I work for the Commentator, not the Pussy Daily.

Interview Week: Zach Vishanoff

Monday, January 24th, 2011

Editors’ note: Welcome to Interview Week. It’s like Shark Week, except with transcripts rather than terrifying cartilaginous fish. So in other words, slightly more terrifying. The Interview Issue is being frantically rushed into existence as we speak and we are all excited about it. But the thing about interesting conversations is that they don’t come into being at the leisure of the printed page. They’re lengthy and often overrun their allotment. We couldn’t fit everything in the Interview Issue, so some of our most interesting pieces are coming at you through the World Wide Web this week. Enjoy or die!

This is the first interview in that series, by me with the activist Zach Vishanoff (pictured it above), maybe the most interesting person in the orbit of the UO. In the finished magazine, extremely small excerpts from the interview will appear at the top of each page. The entire interview lasted about half an hour. While it was happening, Vishanoff talked about the decade he has spent opposing the UO’s development and expansion. The reader may draw his or her own conclusions from the text of the interview. As with all of our interviews, we assume no legal responsibility for the factual content of our subjects.

Vishanoff also insisted it is important to note he consumed a great deal of coffee prior to the interview.

Great thanks are due for Ross Coyle, who transcribed this interview, and Rockne Andrew Roll, who provided the camera. It’s possible that there might have been some unseemly transition between Microsoft Word and the blog in terms of the integrity of the text. If that’s the case, I apologize for it and let me know. The interview is below the fold, and there will be a video in due time.

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