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In the news: scientists playing with mice again.

Monday, December 19th, 2011

Good news for relationships worldwide, scientists may have discovered how to give us better memories. Translation: your girlfriend is going to remember that thing you said you for years and years. And that other thing too. You might as well just break up with her now, seeing as you don’t even remember what it was.

Bambi

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

I would like to take this time to point out that the all time number two search term referring to the Commentator blog is “bambi.” WTF.

The Student Insurgent: Sex trafficking is greater than or equal to hate speech.

Sunday, May 22nd, 2011

The Student Insurgent, in a surprising turn of events, is actually doing something. I would be proud, if their actions weren’t entirely asinine.

First, they hosted a guest speaker last week who advocated sex trafficking. No joke. From their blog:

War on Terror & War on Trafficking:
Why Irrational Panic over ‘Modern Day Slavery’ Harms Women

Thursday May 19th, from 6-730pm in Condon 104, University of Oregon.

Presented by Emi Koyama, War on Terror & War on Trafficking examines “facts” promoted by the anti-trafficking groups and “experts,” and exposes how they have distorted our conversations about sex trafficking and prostitution and harmed women, sex workers, immigrants, and others.

The presentation also explores many ways in which the new War on Trafficking resembles the so-called War on Terror in its worldview, approach, and devastating impact on vulnerable communities. [...]

Come to find out why:

• Average age of entry into prostitution is not 12-14 year old
• 300,000 children are not at risk of being trafficked
• A third of runaway youth are not trafficked within first 48 hours
• Super Bowl and World Cup did not contribute to human trafficking
• Portland is not “Pornland, Oregon”
• “End Demand” approach targeting “johns” harms women
• Anti-trafficking “experts” should not be trusted (remember Bill Hillar?)
• Trafficking is often the State’s excuse to raid immigrants and communities of color
• Anti-trafficking movement distorts reality and misleads public policy

Clearly, the Student Insurgent advocates sex trafficking. The Commentator will be looking more into this story, including whether or not the Student Insurgent is housing underage, trafficked prostitutes in their office. Look for that next week.

Additionally, as I was walking by the Commentator distribution rack outside McKenzie Hall this afternoon, I saw this flier sitting on top of our HATE issues in the rack:

You know the Commentator. Constantly committing acts of ableism (which, and I’ve looked through our archives, I can’t find), objectifying women AND men, and generally slandering our fellow students.

Any responses to this flier should not only be directed to Dr. Shang (who, by the way, won the Professional Baller Tater Award last year) but also to us at winthings@oregoncommentator.com. Best response receives a Sudsy t-shirt and a hug from me and Sophie — AT THE SAME TIME. How can you say no?

On a more serious note: free speech, bitches. Deal with it.

EDIT: I can’t be sure this flier was indeed placed by the Insurgent, but based on the conversations I’ve had the last week, I can only guess.

Alexandra Wallace: the three minute mistake that wasn’t related to sex….(I know, odd right?)

Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

Several weeks ago, UCLA poli sci student Alexandra Wallace created a youtube video voicing her opinions on Asians in the library. The video, which very obviously crossed the line into racism went viral and in days, Wallace had created a mistake that she couldn’t undo.

After the incident, Wallace took responsibility for her actions and released the following statement to the UCLA student newspaper, The Daily Bruin

Clearly the original video posted by me was inappropriate. I cannot explain what possessed me to approach the subject as I did, and if I could undo it, I would. I’d like to offer my apology to the entire UCLA campus. For those who cannot find it within them to accept my apology, I understand.

In the days following, the UCLA administration conducted an investigation concluding that imposing academic consequences was outside of their scope

As a public university, UCLA protects free expression. While I and most on campus were appalled by the sentiments expressed in a recent YouTube video, we have uncovered no facts that lead us to believe that the Student Code of Conduct was violated. We have no intention of pursuing a disciplinary matter. Statement by Janina Montero, vice chancellor for student affairs

However, this investigation was not the only fallout from the video. Reactions reached the point of death threats (because fighting racism with violence is always the best answer [yes, that was sarcasm]) and Wallace’s interactions with the University quickly turned from investigation to protection. In fact, Wallace has decided to no longer attend UCLA as noted in a letter she wrote to The Daily Bruin (more…)

Candidate Interviews: McCafferty/Williams

Monday, April 5th, 2010

OC: What students groups are you involved in?

AM: I am an ASUO senator, I work on the board of directors for the  Oregon Daily Emerald, I am a student on the University hearings board, and I also serve  in the student leader capacity on many University committees.

AW: I am a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority , I currently an advocate for the Substance Abuse Prevention Program and I’m working on internships for my major as well.


OC
: Can you give us a description of your platform?

AM: Our platform is very comprehensive. It’s all under the realm of saving student’s money. The first is responsible spending; we have athletic tickets, LTD and enhancing the EMU. So I will go through the first two. The first is responsible spending, every year the mandatory fee students pay goes up, and we want to make sure it does not do this because currently we pay the highest mandatory fee in the country. We have as student leaders autonomy in our student government, we have direct access over the allocation of the money and in our capacity we want to make sure that number does not increase and in fact decrease. The next is student tickets, it has been a pretty long process for myself I have been very involved in the student ticketing process. This past year we created the season pass program, I think this was very well received very well thought out and implemented because  it gives more students a opportunity to attend football games. It also gives, fans who are willing to pay for a season pass a guaranteed spot at football home game. That is something that many students really wanted and will provide them that opportunity. Next it actually decreased the size of the ASUO budget, we were able to reduce the size of the ASUO athletics contract by 5%, while increasing opportunity to attend those games. Because actually increased the amount of tickets being obtained by combining season passes and free tickets with a full student section for every Pac-10 home game and that was all done while reducing the budget, which was a great success. We want to continue this because we have the opportunity to increase opportunity while limiting costs. We want to expand the student section at Autzen stadium. Frankly 5,445 seats is not enough seats with the size of the student body we have now. So our first priority would be to lobby to increase the size of the student section at Autzen stadium.

AW: As you can see Alex really loves football and football tickets. I’m going to touch on a few of our platform points that are also very important. One of them being the EMU renovation that is going to happen with the Oregon 20/20 plan. With that being said there is several points we need to keep in mind  in that renovation as a potential executive and that is increasing the space and facilities s and making the facilities in general more  accessible for clubs, students groups, unions, all the students using resources at the EMU. Also increasing revenue because right now our EMU is not self sustainable, we are not bringing a lot of money in, and we are looking at getting a few more businesses and potentially a sports bar in the new EMU which would bring in a lot more revenue than right now and create more of a residential community  where students really want to be. In addition to that we want to make sure that the EMU renovation includes input from students. We realize this is not something that is going to be happening any time within our legacy here, if you will. We would like to make sure that students are advocated for and when this does happen that it is well thought out and students are represented. Next I would like to address the issue of the urban Farm. Right now the urban farm has been here for thirty or forty years and they are a growing program but they do not have enough space and in order to work with them and address that issue we would like  to put them on the I-fee.  Also work with the CASTLE project as they are a partnership and we believe that  sustainable living and sustainable parking are really important.

AM: Our next issue is student parking. Some students do not live within the realm of the bus stops, some students have no other choice to drive to school and to attend class they need to bring their car. Right now it cost an incredible amount to obtain a parking spot and currently the administration has more passes than it currently has spots. Which is the first thing we need to fix. Secondly, we also need to increase the amount of parking places we have. It is unfair to make students pay these outrageous fees to even get to class. The tangible way we can do that is to open up the Autzen lot for student parking. The Autzen parking lot is currently only used for football games and unfortunately there is not very many of those days.  Every other day it is an empty lot not being used in any other sort of function.  We can open the Autzen  lot, let students park there and rework the LTD contract to provide a shuttle service from the Autzen lot to campus which will hopefully decrease the cost that is necessary  to get a parking spot and increase the spots available so students have a tangible way to get to school without paying  over $300 for parking fees.

AW: And also making sure that the LTD services are staying were they are right now and providing as much as possible  for students with a lower cost in addition to the parking issue that Alex addressed.

OC: You talked about keeping the  I-fee low,  how would you achieve that?

AM: There are a variety of ways, first is creative growth. That is something that I strive for and something that I think the season passes did.  Season passes increased opportunity while lowering the budget. Again we lowered the budget by 5% and increasing opportunity for additional services to students and that will lower the I-fee. Additionally if we move services off the fee to the general fund. Currently, the career center is in the process of moving off the I-fee to the general fund. The career center obviously still stands is still functional however students will not be paying for it through their mandatory fees. We can do the exact same thing with campus recycling. Campus recycling is a wonderful program, something we need on campus, something that we support however the administration is glad to pick it up, it can easily fall into facilities and services  which is really where it belongs.  If we move that of the fee and into the g-fund within in facilities and services  we can lower the I-fee without reducing services, we can maintain and in fact increase services  with creative growth and that is exactly how we lower the I-fee. Alden?

AW:  We would like to also prepare ahead of time. When it comes to student budgets there are a lot of groups that are dealing with a large or small budget anomaly and are having issues but right now we don’t have advising or resources to create that budget and have to propose it to senate. The process of asking for money and budget forecasting is not that is readily accessible to all student groups. So we would like to improve that process and make sure that we are preparing ahead of time, not only ourselves but all groups involved so we don’t have unnecessary or unplanned shortfalls so that we don’t have that overwhelming surplus to refill the hole we can potentially create without planning ahead.

OC: Alex, you were big on bringing the New York Times to campus and if elected would you keep the NYT on campus.

AM: In the primary debates today they asked us what would you do in the first ten weeks of office I answered that the NYT is a clear tangible benefit that was in demand by the students and unfortunately it was not funded through the ASUO process this year which is OK, because as the executive if elected one of the first things we would do is secure funding mostly through fundraising as soon as possible.

OC: Can you define “sustainability?”

AM: Sustainability will not require funds to be continually increased, so if you want to be sustainable you are self-sufficient. You are able to provide for yourself without taking outside resources or outside funding and keeping the intake of student funds increasing every year.

OC: If you get elected, what is the one thing a year from now you would be proud of.

AM: The thing I would be most proud of is expanding the student section at  Autzen stadium bringing the NYT to campus and most importantly reducing the cost of education at this university. That is my prime goal. That’s what I personally would be most proud of because this is a wonderful university, however it costs more and more every year to come here and as the ASUO president one of the most important things I could do to lower the cost of education.

AW: I think we both share that is important that students funds stay here on campus and students know where their funds are going and transparency within student government is very clear. I want students to be informed on what we are spending their money on and what their resources are and just exactly what it is what were doing.

OC: Thank you for your time.

Candidate Interviews: Rousseau and Arora

Monday, April 5th, 2010

OC- Could you give us an outline of your platform?

AR- We have four main platform points.  First is better advocating for student housing rights on campus,  thirdly is you know more efficient spending and making sure that our fees are spent wisely and effectively, and then we have sustainability and making sure that students have a say in how that money is spent for student sustainability improvement on campus and then

MA
- Also making sure students voices are heard.
AR- yes, definitely, and then fourthly is you know building communities, fostering civic engagement and  bridging gaps between communities on campus.

OC- Can you divulge into what student groups you’re involved with currently?

AR-for sure  I am currently working with the ASUO executive and I created the first annual farmers market. I am a member of Pi Beta Phi where I was publications chair I was an honest college chip leader, freshman mentor and fig assistant.  I was an honors college editor and chief of the arts journal.  I’ve been a member of alternative spring break and I am on the, er I was on the Greek judicial board.

MA- oh and then me as well?

OC- Yes

MA- Okay so I’m a campaign manager with OSPIRG,  I’m the team coordinator with the climate justice league.  I’ m also a member of the students of the Indian subcontinent and then I was last year a member of the Warsaw sports business club.

OC-Your website’s mission says  “we will make sure legislators and candidates for governor know that students can’t afford anymore debt” how do you reconcile that statement with your support for OSPIRG a group that would incur  117 thousand dollars to students if operational.

MA-um yea what was the question?


OC
-*repeats question*

MA-yea totally, one of the things about OSPIRG is its cost effective so you’re getting a $600,000  organization for $117,000. um also they work on issues that save um students and citizens of Oregon money, such as the health care bill that passed in Oregon last year, to save citizens of Oregon 12 billion dollars over ten years, um so those are the kind of things that they are able to  to do with that 117 thousand dollars so its not like you’re throwing away money, its that you’re making an investment to get money back,  and the other thing is, ya know,  I’m voting yes on OSPIRG,  but as president and vice president you know we respect what students think, and so its really up to students if they think that OSPIRG is important on campus,  so theres a question on the ballot  and if students vote to have OSPIRG on this campus, if they think its important to them then we should respect that.

OC-  I noticed on one of your campaign website your bullet point is a civic engagement minor, can you explain that?

AR- yea totally, its something were really excited about,  its been talked about  vice president Kassa has been  working on that this year and we are going to continue  promote the creation of this minor, and the theory behind it is that you know students should be able to learn  outside their academic life, you know they’re in class for a couple hours a day but so much of our learning and experience comes outside the classroom and the minor would allow students to get academic credit for things that they’re already involved in. Community service that they are already doing on campus, both in campus  on campus and within the Eugene community as well. um and so it would be kinda like working with um some sort of internship independent project attached to a organization both on or off campus and then also mixing and matching classes that fit with that project, with that specific passion interest. so we’re really excited about it and i think that its a really great way for students to take autonomy over their own education and be able to find things that they’re going to learn tangible skillsfor the future at the same time they’re making a difference.

OC- Would there be restrictions on to what you can study?

AR- I’m not sure what the restrictions would be, but I think that it would definitely have to be, you know, planned out with an adviser, but again it would definitely be very creative and you know,  you would have say over how that was put together.

OC- Another one of your campaign centers around renters rights. Could you explain  that?

AR-Yea definitely, so iIthink you know a lot of you know Eugene students are first time renters so you know they’re reluctant to fend for themselves to find housing on their own,  even you know from the first time they enroll in school you know the administration has allowed 4x more freshman than we have beds for currently, so you know that right there students have to find housing on their own, they’re being you know having to have roommates that they don’t know before or they’re not necessarily their first choice for a living situations  and then you know when they do become renters  you know they move out of the residence halls,  students haven’t really been educated on what their rights are what they can do against you know big real estate companies or just ya know one on one you know landlords smaller time landlords, and  I think the ASUO is a great place for students to get educated on what their rights are, so you know holding workshops going to groups in the residence halls and things like that. and just letting them know just being able to support them in finding housing and also when they’re in it just making sure they’re in contact with things like legal services, conflict resolution, things that already exist on campus that not enough students know about.

OC- Are you guys running on the slate?


AR
- no were independent candidates, like you.

OC-nice, that brings me to this question. What would you do if you guys were voted to executive positions to keep senators on the senate.

AR-I think one thing that’s really important is just maintaining good you know personal and professional relationships with each and every senator. That means you know both Getachew and sorry, both Maneesh and I will do a great job, I think Getachew has done ya know tried to do that as the vice president but I think  Maneesh and I really value that and making sure that we ya know promote good relations between senate and the executive so we can get ya know get really good work done and work together on that. Ya know so checking with them having meetings, making sure were communicating with not just the senate president but every senator.

OC- So at the end of the 2010/1011 school year, if you’re voted in whats the one thing that you want students to reflect on your administration?

MA- the one thing, that’s tough. I think one of the things for me is just to see how passionate we are about a lot of the issues that we care about, I mean I know Amelie is really passionate about like the farmers market and civic engagement and housing, she talks a lot about that, I’m really passionate about civic engagement as well as well as sustainability, we both have done a lot of work on this campus.  we’ve seen what students can do when we collaborate and when we work together on issues that we care about,  and we really just want to be a voice for that positive energy and that activism

AR
-for sure

MA-and so I think one of the things I want people to look back on is hopefully how were able to bring people together, because I think that’s really important, and I think there is a lot of students on this campus that care about similar things, and we just want to give them the support and the resources that they can.

AR-  I would second that and I’d say that  ya know we don’t necessarily know, like we have some goals that we want to accomplish, but its about figuring out. What students want to have done, and what they want to change, and what goals they want to set for themselves, and then supporting that and fostering growth ya know, not just environmental groups but all communities on campus and ya know  putting fun events together that like ya know we can learn to support each other.  Ya know maybe making something like sustainability goals that we can you know really see the changes of you know before and after so you know once we set those with as much student input as possible. Then we’ll be able to look back and see how well we did and how well we um were able to be kind of the facilitators for making student action happen.

OC-Well done. Thank you for your time.

Senate Wrap-up for 2/18/09

Thursday, February 19th, 2009

Last night Senate appointed people to two vacant seats – Mike Broetzmann to Seat Three and Demic Tipitino to Seat Nine. Broetzmann was voted in 7-1-7. Hilarity ensued when it became apparent that Broetzmann couldn’t be appointed right away because he already held a seat on the Programs Finance Committee. It was determined after several minutes of confused cross-talk that the only way to proceed was: (1) to table the motion to appoint Broetzmann, (2) have a speaker address him and allow him to verbally resign, (3) vote again to put the motion back on the table and (4) finally vote to appoint him. Ladies and gentlemen, your ASUO Senate.

Tipitino was also voted on to Senate 9-1-7. Tipitino is a stand-up guy; he’s involved in the College Republicans and is a strong voice for fiscal conservatism. During his confirmation hearing he said that though Senate had “much more room to be critical in its spending.” He specifically objected to how much money Senate gives to groups for conferences. (Tipitino also had to resign from his Department Finance Committee seat. Speaking of the DFC …)

(more…)

Incidental Fee Goes Down, Minds Blown

Friday, January 30th, 2009

This, ladies and gents, is what it’s all about. For generations, the OC has railed against the ever-rising Incidental Fee. For decades, we’ve been the only folks who have given a shit about trying to hold it steady or bring it down. And then Sam Dotters-Katz was elected. For some crazy reason or another, Sam actually agrees that saving students I-Fee money is a worthy cause, and unlike any ASUO president (that I’m aware of) he has actually made the effort cut the Incidental Fee. That’s right, for Spring term, your incidental fee has been cut from $195 to $95. The best part? He also proved that fiscal responsiblity is not code for “racist (or otherwise despicable) defunding of student groups and services.” Rather, Dotters-Katz used the overrealized fund to buy down the fee, saving students $100 for Spring Term and eliminating an irresponsible, unaccountable million dollar (or more) annual giveaway. I’ve never found a record of the fee being cut in this manner before in ASUO history, and the fee for Spring Term will be the lowest it has been in over a decade.

As part of a proud tradition of OC fiscal conservatives, I can’t help feeling immensely proud that our magazine and this website helped carry the torch until this moment. Fighting for fiscal responsibility in the ASUO has always seemed like tilting at windmills, but this confirms that every little bit makes a difference. I’m sure other alumni can speak to how improbable this development sounds. If half the students who came to the UO could bring their idealistic sights down to an attainable goal (like saving every student $100 per term) this campus would be a better place. Congratulations to Sam for keeping his commitment to this goal, despite the many distractions and temptations to just do ASUO business as usual. This is a historic achievement! Hit the jump for Dotters-Katz’s press release.

(more…)

Senate Round-up for 1/21/09

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

I’ve got your weekly ASUO Senate bullet-points, but before I get to that … I will be on the campus radio station (KWVA 88.1) tomorrow at 6:30 p.m. talking about ASUO news with Sen. Nick Schultz and the wonderful Lyzi Diamond. Tune in or listen online. Moving on …

(more…)

Papailiou, Yours Truly Apply for Senate Seats

Saturday, January 10th, 2009

ASUO Exec Sam Dotters-Katz has appointed former Senate President Athan Papailiou to the seat recently vacated by Kate Jones. Papailiou is a strong advocate for fiscal responsibility and a friend of the Commentator. He was elected on the Campaign for Change slate and served as Senate President for most of last year.

Also, after consulting with my Senate Exploratory Committee, I have applied for the vacant journalism seat on Senate. Both of our confirmation hearings will be on Wednesday and will be hilarious. For example, here is the cover letter I sent along with my application:

Dear Associated Students of the University of Oregon;

I am writing to apply for ASUO Senate Seat 19: Journalism. I am a journalism major and nominally more intelligent than a trained circus bear, which, from what I’ve seen, qualifies me for the position.

I am interested in the position because the chairs in the ASUO Boardroom look really, really comfortable. Sometimes there are also snacks for ASUO Senators. I am so down for that. I wish to become a part of the ASUO nobility and trod the lowly plebs beneath my gilded feet.

I’m a firm believer in strong, autocratic government. My biggest influences in this regard are, in ascending order: Teddy Roosevelt, Ghengis Khan and Conan (the barbarian). Enclosed is my application, my resume and a picture of me shaking hands with President Frohnmayer. (He’s my bro.) I look forward to hearing your response. Thank you for your time and consideration. Sincerely,

Carl Ciaramella

More Info on Amendments

Monday, January 5th, 2009

I posted earlier today about ASUO Exec Sam Dotters-Katz’s proposed amendments to the ASUO Constitution. Well, Daniel Bachhuber brought it to my attention that maybe some people don’t understand what the hell the Daily Emerald and I were talking about. Explanation:

First of all:Here is the full text of the proposed amendments. These proposals will be sent before the ASUO Constitution Court to be decided on*. If approved, they will be added to the ASUO Constitution, the governing document of the Associated Students of the University of Oregon. Dotters-Katz is proposing four main amendments: (more…)

I-Fee Update

Tuesday, October 28th, 2008

Here’s the Ol’ Dirty’s story on the proposed cut to the I-Fee. Notable for this quote:

While Senate opinions of the changes have been either undecided or positive, ASUO Senator Kate Jones doesn’t approve of the timing. When Dotters-Katz announced the changes at last week’s ASUO Senate meeting, Jones stated, “I’d like to see (the over-realized changes) happen next year. We allocated a lot of money at the beginning of the year, and we did so under the impression that there would be a large sum of money in the over-realized fund at the end of the year.”

Ah, the ol’ bait and switch. I find the proposed changes doubly enjoyable because Sen. Jones and the rest of the spend-happy crew on the Senate are getting hosed.

A Tax of a Tax: ASUO Meeting Wrap-up

Wednesday, October 15th, 2008

I’ve got a convenient bullet-point wrap-up of the Senate meeting after the jump, but first The Big News:

The Oregon University System is taxing the Incidental Fee. Yes, they’re taxing a tax – a tax of a tax on students. Apparently this is a regular practice (known as “assessment”), but it was brought up tonight in the Executive announcements because the OUS upped the tax from two to three percent … after EMU and PFC budgeting. This basically screws over student programs, as well as the EMU operating budget. Furthermore, there is no cap on how much the OUS can tax the I-fee.

The ASUO will lobby to set the I-fee off limits to the assessment tax. To be honest, I’m a little bit out of my depth on this; this is all what I gleaned from the Senate meeting. However, Michelle Haley, who is on the EMU Board, will be writing more about the issue.

Moving on … (more…)

ASUO Senate Meeting Tonight

Wednesday, October 15th, 2008

Another Wednesday, another ASUO Senate Meeting. I can’t tell if there will be anything juicy from reading the agenda (being the enthralling piece of prose that it is), but the Survival Center is putting in a special request (surplus request for “revolutionary filing cabinet,” I presume).

I’ll be doing my part as a 21 century, techno-wizard journalist and twittering the night’s proceedings. As usual, the sideshow starts at seven p.m.

P.S. Oh, I guess there is that whole “presidential debate” thing tonight, or so I hear, but who cares about that?

Your Weekly ASUO Boondoggle

Wednesday, October 1st, 2008

I had to leave the Senate meeting early tonight. Well, not early. I’d already been sitting in the boardroom for three hours, and the Senate was not even halfway through the agenda. Besides a brief appearance by Zach Vishanoff, it was a joyless headache of an affair. But on to the real news …

As I previously mentioned, the ASUO Senate had $196,000 in over-realized requests to approve or disapprove. Part of the money was rollover from last year, and the rest was the allocated money from the denied BWA and CASL proposals. If the BWA money is not spent tonight, it will most likely roll into the general fund, meaning students would see nothing for it. There is also a chance that the CASL money will roll into the G-fund if not spent.

Unlike most of the time when the Senate gets to throw money around, though, they weren’t happy about it. (more…)