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Grier to Harbaugh: “Please Stop Asking Questions”

Universities are supposed to be proud bastions of inquiry and understanding, but apparently this principle now only applies to those who agree with the University Administration. Economics professor Bill Harbaugh has been asking questions all year long about the Administration’s diversity building efforts, only to have his reasonable, sensible critiques met with a distinct lack of enthusiasm. Now, in a letter from UO General Counsel Melinda Grier, the administration has made it abundantly clear that any questioning of the accepted approach to diversity building will be ignored to the extent that the law provides.

This isn’t all that surprising, given the fact that Harbaugh has already had to file ethical complaints against President Frohnmayer in order to get access to (supposedly) public documents on the affirmative action plan, but it’s almost bitterly amusing to see a University attempting to squash discourse and inquiry, the cornerstones of it’s institutional raisons d’etre. The only real reason given for breaking off discoure with Harbaugh is that answering all his questions would “consume a tremendous amount of time,” which is hardly a compelling argument coming from an institution which is heavily invested in long-term research projects such as nanotechnology and sustainability. The real message that the Administration is sending with this letter is that current diversity building efforts can not be improved through discourse and debate, and that trying to improve them is not in the institutional interests of the University of Oregon.

  1. Vincent. says:


  2. Sean says:

    I see how it is, Professor Harbaugh. You’re just trying to cover your own ass, cuz when they interrogate us in the secret basement torture chamber of Johnson Hall, we’ll say you told us to ask the questions, and you’ll be able to deny any such claim, since you told us not to.

  3. Speaking as a professor, I oppose any and all questions from students. I hear questions far too often in class, and let me tell you, they just ruin the orderly educational process that is best for you. Trust me on this, I have your best interests at heart.

    Of course, Governor Kulongowski did sign SB 554 last Friday, which reiterates UO Public Records Officer Melinda Grier’s obligation to promptly answer questions

  4. Vincent. says:

    The arrogance displayed in that letter is absolutely unbelievable.

    Maybe a larger group of students should organize and individually request copies of the same documents Professor Harbaugh has requested and not received. If the University “will no longer reply” to questions about policy posed by members of its faculty, perhaps it will be more responsive to an organized campaign by its students.

    Or not.

    Either way, this University is extremely sensitive to the media. Showing this sort of contempt to an organized student group (especially when it’s caved so many times before) might raise some heckles in the community, at least.

  5. Jacque says:

    Hey ya’ll leave Melinda Grier alone! She taught one of my classes once… oh yea…never mind, carry on! lol

  6. Timothy says:

    Melinda Grier has no business holding the position she does. She actually thought SafeRide wasn’t discriminatory, for one, and she wouldn’t know case law relevant to student fee funded publications if it bit her in the face.

  7. Niedermeyer says:

    It should also be noted that Griers office is unhelpful and obfuscatory to the point of ridiculousness. The Commentator requested documents on the Student Recreation Center planning process several times, by phone and in person back in January, and we have yet to be contacted by the GC office. No documents, no requests for clarification, nothing… just silence. Maybe they were too busy with all of Bill Harbaugh’s annoying questions to get to ours.

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