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Archive for November, 2010

Democrat Devlin named as co-chair of tax committee

November 17th, 2010 by Ben Maras

To be filed under “completely enthralling political news du jour:”

Oregon Senate President Peter Courtney of Salem, has appointed fellow Democrat and Tualatin representative Richard Devlin as co-chair of the Joint Ways and Means Committee.

Before you get too excited, the Joint Ways and Means Committee has nothing to do with joints, although it is pretty important. Essentially, it deals with state-imposed taxes and the budget. That means he’ll be instrumental in figuring out what to do about Oregon’s $3.2 billion budget shortfall.

District 19, which he represents, includes Durham, Lake Oswego, Tualatin, Rivergrove, West Linn, and parts of southwest Portland and Tigard. Devlin was born in Eugene, and holds a Bachelor of Science in Administration of Justice from Portland State University, and a Master of Arts from Pepperdine University in Management. Before his first political run for Tualatin City Council in 1985, he was a private investigator.

Devlin isn’t a surprise pick by any means. He stepped down as Democratic majority leader last week, and now he’s returning to the committee, which he served on during the 2003, 2005 and 2007 legislative sessions. (Those are consecutive sessions, lest we forget that Oregon, until now, had a legislature that only met every other year.)

His appointment to the tax committee is likely to raise some eyebrows from some conservatives, though. Taxpayer Association of Oregon, the anti-tax PAC started by Don McIntire (homeboy of nutjob Bill Sizemore) made the claim that Devlin raised taxes by $1 billion in one day. The statement is true-ish, and center around his votes on the controversial Measures 66 and 67, but it leaves out a lot of details, which are outlined pretty well here by PolitiFact.

His top contributors have been mostly from the health and labor industries, with names like the Oregon Health Care Association and the Oregon Public Employees Local 503 topping the list. He has also received support from the lobbyist group the Oregon Trial Lawyers association. Wal-Mart did too, although they contributed considerably less. There’s more info on his campaign contributions here.

There’s no word yet as to who his co-chair will be, but considering the even split in the state legislature, here’s to hoping we see some bipartisanship. They’ve got a lot on their plates, and there’s no time for bickering.

So much for student autonomy.

November 17th, 2010 by Lyzi Diamond

The ASUO Senate is a public body that deals with $12 million in student money. Their emails are — surprise, surprise — public record.

So I put in a public records request for all emails from May 25, 2010 until now:

November 16, 2010

Mr. Fielding
Ombudsperson
ASUO Senate
EMU Suite 4
1228 University of Oregon
Eugene, OR 97403

Dear Mr. Fielding,

Pursuant to the Oregon open records law, ORS 192.410 to 192.505, I write to request a digital copy of all email correspondence sent to senate@uoregon.edu or asuosenate@lists.uoregon.edu from May 25, 2010, to present. If you do not maintain these public records, please let me know who does and include the proper custodian’s name and address.

I agree to pay any reasonable copying and postage fees of not more than $5. If the cost would be greater than this amount, please notify me. Please provide a receipt indicating the charges for each document.

If you choose to deny my request, please provide a written explanation for the denial including a reference to the specific statutory exemption(s) upon which you rely. If some of these records are disclosable and others are exempt, please provide the disclosable records and let me know the exemption(s) preventing disclosure of the rest.

Please understand that we seek these records for the purposes of public interest, and we hope that the spirit of openness in Oregon government will prevail.

Thank you for your assistance.

Sincerely,

Alyssa Diamond
Managing Editor
Oregon Commentator
EMU Room 319
1228 University of Oregon
Eugene, OR 97403

From Mr. Ian Fielding, I received this response:

Jubilant Jalousean Jannocking Journalists,

Ex-senator Diamond, you recently contacted me via a lovely letter to have access to all Senate emails from May 25th 2010 onwards. I ensure you that are [sic] senate conversations are absolutely enthralling. As a former senator, and current prestigious journalist, I can understand your lust for this information.

Franklin, you seemed to echo the aforementioned similar sentiments of Ex-Senator Diamond. After all, who would want to miss out on experiencing the exhilarating rush of deciphering senate emails!

I want to make sure both of your requests are fulfilled so you can join me, and my fellow senate members, in analyzing fun issues!

In order to receive this information we will need you both to fill out an official public record request for this information. I have taken the liberty of providing you a link to the appropriate webpage to do so:

http://www.oregon.gov/DOC/public_record_requests.shtml

We also will need you to cover the costs that it will take to provide you with this substantial amount of information. If the cost is inaccessible I will look to find ways to make it more accessible.

If you have any further questions or need additional aid in this process feel free to contact me!

Much love,

Ian Fielding
Senate Ombudsperson AKA The Sergeant in Arms

Hey journalism students — what’s wrong with this picture?

I spoke to Franklin today (ASUO reporter for the Ol’ Dirty) and apparently he went to Ian to whine about the fact that I got access to information he didn’t have, and thus I was able to scoop him. LOL to that.

My response to Ian:

Ian,

Uhh . . . that is a link to the department of corrections website. You sure that’s where you wanted to send me? The letter I sent you WAS an official public records request. With reference to the statutes and all.

Please let me know exactly what else you need from me. I am willing to cover costs up to $5 without any other correspondence, but if it is going to be more than that, you have to tell me why, and provide a reciept. Also, please keep in mind that I requested a digital copy, not printed copies.

Thank you,

Alyssa Diamond

Ran into ASUO Senate President Zachary Stark-MacMillan in the EMU a little while ago, and he said something about how the ASUO is an entity of the UO, so they’re going to have to run the request to UO’s general counsel.

So much for student autonomy, I guess. (Alternate statement here – wah wah wah wah wah.)

I’ll keep you updated on how it goes.

Are you a bad enough dude to design ASUO’s new logo?

November 17th, 2010 by Ben Maras

In case you haven’t been paying attention (and we don’t blame you one bit if you weren’t), the ASUO is having a rebranding contest, and want YOU to design their logo. The only real guidelines are that you can use up to three colors, and they want it to say ASUO somewhere in it.

So, we asked ourselves, who can pass up the opportunity to design the “Logo for the most powerful student government in the Nation?” Not us!

That’s why we’re announcing the official Oregon Commentator ASUO Logo Contest in tandem with ASUO’s contest. This is your chance to make a “lasting impact on the ASUO and greater campus community” by designing the logo that you think best represents ASUO’s presence on the campus.

So send your submissions to us at winthings@oregoncommentator.com by Monday, Nov. 22, or drop it by our office, EMU 319 (by the Ol’ Dirty Emerald’s office). And while you’re at it, you might as well submit it to ASUO’s official contest (info below). If we like your logo, it will be flown on the wings of Valkyries up to our fortified compound where our most secret meetings happen (the top deck of Rennie’s), and we’ll shout your name from the heavens in drunken reverence. The winner of ASUO’s contest will get $200 cash money, and the winner of our contest gets one better: a date with Sudsy O’Sullivan. He’s delicious, and good for you. So get on it, folks! We look forward to your submissions with baited breath, and we’re sure ASUO does, too.

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Money be green. Media digest Nov. 17, 2010

November 17th, 2010 by Alex Tomchak Scott

Today there was a bomb scare, but I want us all to put that behind us, OK? But we should all enjoy an interview with Oregon Football klaxon-voiced gill net Cliff Harris, who is one of the few people of interest to the Eugene media who is unafraid of saying the truth as he sees it. He went to Oregon because he likes green, because “money be green.” That’s fair, in my book. Also, buildings are on the mind today. The pesky “Made in Oregon” sign is changing, and the floor of the Matthew Knight Arena inspires an article worth reading for the first time.

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Feds to move on Four Loko ban as soon as this week

November 16th, 2010 by Ben Maras

If all goes according to plan, makers of Four Loko, Joose, and others will soon be getting a letter from the Federal Trade Commission notifying them that they are in violation of federal law. Following several statewide bans of Four Loko, the Food and Drug Administration is preparing to ban caffeinated alcoholic drinks (or are they alcoholic energy drinks?) nationwide as soon as this week.

The announcement was made by Representative Charles Schumer (D-NY), who has lobbied for the banning of the drinks, and is the result of a one-year investigation into whether caffeine was a safe addition to alcoholic beverages. I could have saved you the time, guys: it isn’t. But when has that stopped anyone before?

On top of the students in Central Washington and New Jersey that we told you about a couple weeks ago, Four Loko is now being tied to the deaths of two Florida teenagers. One of them mixed it with diet pills (probably containing more speed), and the other died of an acute combination of alcoholic poisoning, caffeine psychosis, and a self-inflicted fatal gunshot wound.

“This ruling should be the nail in the coffin of these dangerous and toxic drinks,” Mr. Schumer said. “Parents should be able to rest a little easier.”

So what if Four Loko is dangerous? So are cars, swimming pools and the KFC Double Down. Is the problem here really that there’s a stupidly potent product on the convenience store shelves with bright labels that attract younger drinkers? Or is the problem that young drinkers are stupid with them? If we’re going to point the finger, there’s a lot to go around.

Why aren’t we pointing the finger at the liquor control system for failing in their quest to keep alcohol out of the hands of minors, but succeeds at getting in the way at so many other things?

Why aren’t we mad that no one has ever explained to these kids what generations of recreational drug users have known: don’t mix uppers and downers?

Why aren’t we angry at the parents who can’t pull their own heads out of the vodka tonic long enough to teach their kids that just because something is legal doesn’t mean we can’t do really, really stupid things with it?

Maybe it’s easier to shake our fist at the government for not protecting us from these products than it is accept that we knowingly engage in risky behavior with full knowledge that it is. It also means that we have to hold ourselves personally accountable the stupid stuff we do. Drink too much? That’s your right, and it’s also nobodies fault but your own. It means that just because we’re allowed to do something doesn’t mean it’s a good idea, even if we end up doing it anyway.

And that’s why banning it isn’t going to solve the problem. Just taking away the product isn’t going to change the fact that a new generation of drinkers has learned that mixing speed with their booze is a whole lot of fun (until you end up in the hospital). It’s a Pandora’s box scenario. Before it was Four Loko, it was homemade legal speedballs like vodka and Red Bull and Irish coffee. We Americans are nothing if not resourceful, and we’ll find a new, better way to get ourselves puking blacked-out drunk.

That said, let’s make one thing clear: Four Loko is disgusting. It has all the flavor of codeine cough syrup with the stomach-churning effects of a shot of ipecac, and it turns people into especially irritating drunks. But banning it isn’t getting to the root of the problem; it’s a token political maneuver for politicians who want to appeal to their constituents and don’t want to deal directly with complex causes deeply rooted in our society. If Congress really wants to make some headway and look at these, I wish they’d go ahead and do it already so that we don’t have to keep defending this vile stuff.

Redistricting matters, and you should care about it

November 16th, 2010 by Ben Maras

Now that Oregon’s legislature is nearly split down the middle – 30–30 for Congress and 16-14 for Senate – they’re set to tackle one of the most influential and ignored issues in local politics and representative democracy: redistricting.

See? Even the name sounds exciting. Drawing lines in the sand might not be a hot-button issue like taxes, weed and mandatory minimum sentencing, but it matters. A lot. The average citizen might not care, but it’s so important to politicians that in some states local laws keep it entirely out of their hands, instead being delegated to outside groups who don’t have as much to gain from the outcome. Oregon’s tried to enact similar rules, but it’s fizzled out every time. Either way, it will have a dramatic effect on the political process for the next ten years.

For example, redrawing electoral district lines means an area’s Representative could change, and some incumbents will be trying to appeal to new faces in their bid for re-election. The choices that are made in redrawing the borders will shape who has an easy political battle and which party gains control of the statehouse. When it’s done for a deliberate political advantage, it’s called Gerrymandering, and it’s very illegal.

We only need to look back a couple weeks to the gubernatorial race between Governor John Kitzhaber and opponent Chris Dudley to see the importance of county lines. Dudley lost by a single percentage point, with most of it coming from the liberal Multnomah County. (Graphics courtesy of BlueOregon — LOL!)

Ever looked at a sea of red and wondered how it could be a 50/50 split?

Adjusted for population. Now imagine the effect that moving one of those borders in a densely populated area like Multnomah County. This is why it's the stuff of political wet dreams.

Redistricting typically happens after each census, with the new figures being used to redraw district lines to meet a set of criteria in Oregon law. All districts must:

– Be contiguous. (A district can’t be split in to two separate regions that aren’t connected, e.g. Palestine.)
– Be equal in population.
– Respect existing geographic or political boundaries (Sorry, Portland. Vancouver, WA can’t be counted in your district, even if it might as well be a suburb.)
– Must not divide communities of common interest.
– Be connected by transportation links.

The Oregon Congress hasn’t able to agree to district boundaries since 1981. In this case, the duty defaults to the Secretary of State. In 2001 during his first bout as governor, Kitzhaber vetoed the GOP-created boundaries, which meant it was Bill Bradbury’s job to do it. That’s the same Bill Bradbury who ran against Kitzhaber as a Democratic candidate, so some political commentators have said that the borders he drew are responsible for Democratic gains since then.

Congress is expecting the new census data sometime in March, and has until July 1 to turn in their revisions. If they don’t, the duty will fall on the current Secretary of State, Democrat Kate Brown.

Current Oregon legislative districts. Does this turn you on? If so, you might be a politician.

Smoking ban unveiling rescheduled

November 16th, 2010 by Alex Tomchak Scott


My august colleague Lyzi had been under the impression that the unveiling of the campus tobacco-free policy would be today at 9:45 a.m. At the appointed time and place, though, I appeared, along with Emerald news-honcho* Kat Flanigan and Emerald dead-eyed shooter Ivar Vong, to find it deserted by relevant parties.

Flanigan made a quick call to UO spokesperson Julie Brown**, who informed her the event is actually scheduled for tomorrow***. Disappointment for all, then, as I had been very excited.

Footnotes below the fold. The video above is included solely for your viewing pleasure.**** (more…)

Big metal boxes. Nov. 16, 2010

November 16th, 2010 by Alex Tomchak Scott

Unfortunately, today’s collection of links has little to offer beyond a tribute to my good friend Ian Geronimo’s Emerald career so understated (in true Geronimo style) even I would have missed it if I hadn’t mentioned it in this paragraph. I’ve also learned where I might try parking, watched  the Guard’s associate editor missing the fairly obvious, and examined a Guard reporter’s actually-quite-understandable fixation with an Oregon Volleyball player’s teeth. It’s all below the fold. Note: I’m going to try scheduling these for 7 a.m. every day. Let me know if you would prefer a different time.

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OSPIRG. Returning? [Link Updated]

November 16th, 2010 by Lyzi Diamond

The Athletics and Contracts Finance Committee’s benchmark proposal has fallen into the Commentator‘s hands, and it includes 100% funding for OSPIRG at $117,000.

You can find the full proposal here.

The benchmark includes increases for every contract except the United States Student Association. The largest increase, besides refunding OSPIRG, is for LTD, but that is a story for another day.

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Emerald, seemingly, never understood the whole OSPIRG thing

November 15th, 2010 by Alex Tomchak Scott

The Emerald ran a correction in its print edition today on three errors in its Friday article on OSPIRG. Since it didn’t run online, I’ll reproduce the full text here so we’re on the same page before I go on talking about it.

Because of a reporter’s error, an article in Friday’s Emerald (“Ospirg on a mission to regain favor on campus”) misstated the year of a tax return it referenced. The 2009 tax return listed a $30,811 salary for a health care advocate. The article misstated a transaction between OSPIRG and Environment Oregon and Oregonians for Health. OSPIRG granted $1,633,289 to Environment Oregon and Oregonians for Health. The organization’s tax advocate was contacted before the story’s publication. OSPIRG uses the Internal Revenue Service’s definition of lobbying to maintain their 501(c)(3) tax status, which differs from the Merriam-Webster dictionary definition provided by the Emerald. (emphasis mine)

This last sentence I found distressing for two reasons. The first is that the correction implies that those at the Emerald don’t understand why the ASUO decided to strip Oregon Student Public Interest Research Group’s funding in the first place.

The fact that Oregon Student PIRG is a 501(c)(3) organization means it can receive public funds but not lobby, by the “IRS definition,” which is a false construct by the Emerald, but more on that later. Oregon Student PIRG shares its offices and much of its staff with another organization, Oregon State PIRG. Oregon State PIRG is a 501(c)(4) organization, meaning it cannot receive public funds but can lobby. Its money comes from private donors and its budget dwarfs Oregon Student PIRG’s. Oregon State PIRG and Oregon Student PIRG have the same executive director, David Rosenfeld, although he maintains that he answers to a student board of directors while he is working for Oregon Student PIRG.

The ASUO has refused to fund the student PIRG, basically, because the distinction between it and Oregon State PIRG was too murky for their liking, because Rosenfeld could never prove his running of the student PIRG wasn’t driven by the interests of the state PIRG.

That’s why OSPIRG had its funding taken away. To read a lengthy article arguing, in effect, against OSPIRG’s funding, go here. I’m not necessarily saying I care one way or another about OSPIRG’s funding. I’m just saying the Emerald produced 1,700-word centerpiece article, a propos of not a hell of a lot, about OSPIRG without actually understanding the most important aspect of the OSPIRG issue.

That’s neither here nor there, though. Tax codes are a difficult thing to understand, and I can’t explicitly remember whether I understood that distinction when I was reporting either. I certainly never stated it as explicitly as I did up there.

But the Emerald compounded it with that correction. The Merriam-Webster definition for lobbying and the IRS definition for lobbying are the same. To lobby, by both definitions, is to promote the passage of legislation. A 501(c)(3) organization is legally barred from doing this. Oregon Student PIRG, legally, cannot lobby, merely push issues, not legislation. So saying Oregon Student PIRG lobbies is libelous unless the Emerald can prove it lobbies, considering that repeating the error in snarky fashion almost certainly satisfies the “actual malice” test for libel. And saying it follows the Merriam-Webster definition is a second act of libel. So that’s dicey.

Thoughts on Don’t Ask Don’t Tell

November 15th, 2010 by Ben Maras

“Don’t ask, don’t tell” will remain in effect pending a Federal Appeals Court review, thanks to a Supreme Court decision (or lack thereof) and a little gentle pressure from President Obama. Yes, the same one who vowed to end the policy on his watch is now advocating for its extension.

But why? You might expect him to be happy about last month’s ruling by district court Judge Virginia Phillips that the 17-year-old policy challenged by the Log Cabin Republicans (a gay Republican group) was in violation of the First Amendment rights of the hundreds of thousands of American soldiers. But instead he claimed that lifting the ban now could hurt his own efforts to study the effect of lifting the ban, and future attempts to do it.

The White House appealed, and asked Phillips for a stay in the order to lift the ban. When the reasoning wasn’t good enough for Phillips, the Obama administration took it to the Appeals Court who decided that the policy could remain in place for now. The White House also urged the Supreme Court not to get involved.

He’s swearing to push the issue on his “lame-duck” Congress, which began its session this week, before the newly elected take their seats and the GOP regains control. This puts him in a strange position of advocating a policy he is against until enough research and planning has been done to lift it responsibly.

Obama wants to give the military time and resources to prepare for the open service of gay people, such as through of providing programs for soldiers to “out” themselves to their comrades.

The military says it will comply if asked to stop enforcing DADT, but some are still worried about unforeseen consequences. Some military officials have warned that lifting the policy could disrupt operations, troop morale and recruiting, and “irreparably harm the public interest in a strong and effective military.”

Mirroring the sentiment of Obama (or is it the other way around), Sen. John McCain came out against it, saying that “Once we get this study, we need to have hearings. And we need to examine it. And we need to look at whether it’s the kind of study that we wanted.” Debate about studying a study isn’t just the bane of student government reporters; it’s also one of the pitfalls of conservative politics in this country.

It’s good to be weary of radical political change, and even better to study and flush out details of the changes before they happen – but it can also lead to stagnation, which is especially dangerous when we’re talking about the First Amendment rights of a group being systematically repressed.

Hopefully Obama is dragging his feet on making this happen because he is just concerned about doing it in the most responsible and sustainable way possible for all parties involved. Hopefully it doesn’t turn in to “I tried to stay true to my campaign promises but THEY wouldn’t let me” political fodder for elections to come. Hopefully it isn’t because lifting the ban wasn’t going to have his name attached to it if it were allowed to pass last month. Hopefully we finally get around to fixing this mess, and restoring rights to Americans who fight for them.

Bullriding in the Matt Knight. Media digest, Nov. 15, 2010.

November 15th, 2010 by Alex Tomchak Scott

Note: midway through my writing this, the Emerald website stopped working for me, so not all of the articles from today are in here.

Public affairs:

  • Salutations: Lariviere’s last pre-surgery act on campus was an event venerating veterans, who have a hard time of it once they get out of the service. (Emerald)
  • ASUO: The EMU is booting some student groups from their office to give the new environmental czar a place to sit while its environmental bolsheviks inevitably overthrow it (OC). The ASUO quest to find a piece of graphic detritus that represents it continues (Emerald).
  • Jobs: evidently the UO creates them (Register-Guard).
  • Bleeding: It turns out Hated Beavers fans care more about blood donation than Oregon Football fans. (KVAL)
  • Event scheduling: The UO will rent the Matt Knight out to just about anything. Facilities employee: “We’ll be able to bring in portable ice if we have an ice show. We’ll be able to bring in dirt to bring in things like bullriding.  So there’s a whole variety of things we’ll be able to do in the arena.” (KMTR)

Opinion:

  • Jeff Maehl: do you worry there may be a commando out there with the scent of your blood, hiding behind the bushes on the walkways, under the desks in your classes, in the ceilings in the Jaqua Center. Do you see him in your mind’s eye inching toward you on his stomach, rifle slung across his back, pulling his binoculars to his face and grunting deeply as he watches you stand up and leave your sociology lecture. In this case, your fears, it turns out, are well founded, as Emerald columnist Thomas Kyle-Milward discovers. The University actually does pay military cadets to spy on athletes and make sure they attend class. (Emerald)
  • Letters: The Guard’s mailbag is full of discussion about tax policy, and one man who wants an “armed revolution” to stop banks.
  • Richard Lariviere says guest-lecturing was pretty cool this week. (his official blog)
  • Editorials: The Guard lauds Springfield’s new superintendant and cheers for the new park acquisition.
  • A student from France is skeptical of the riots in her homeland. (Emerald)
  • An activist says of EWEB’s new regulations: “That’s communism!” (Register-Guard)
  • Reasons the UO thinks you should give it money this week: After a week of difficult exams, David R. takes a break to sling mud at Cam Newton, then nearly has a heart attack watching the Oregon Football-Hated Golden Bears game; Trafton B. also twisted his stomach over it, and also tours the Matthew Knight Arena; Antonia D. prides herself on a creative choice as her favorite ice cream flavor and thanks various UO functionaries; Katie D. has a group of old friends over and talks to “the youth” about “Avitar.” (UO’s online beggar bowl)

Scene:

Sports:

More on Smoke-Free Campus

November 15th, 2010 by Lyzi Diamond

In watching Scott Zoltan’s video on the smoke-in and smoke-out last week (disclaimer: I am interviewed in the video) and talking to some ASUO folks, I have some new info and thoughts:

1. The smoking ban will be implemented over two years with a full policy coming in fall 2012. In the time up until policy implementation, smokers will not be cited for smoking on campus. However, in two years when the policy goes into effect, there may be citations or another form of punishment.
2. The UO administration is unveiling their tobacco-free campus policy tomorrow, Tuesday, November 16th at 9:45am in the Taylor Lounge in the EMU. At this point I’m not sure what that policy is, but there will be talks by Jim Bean (speaking for UO Admin as Lariviere is in surgery), the President of the American Cancer Society, and potentially the CEO of PacificSource Health Plans. I’ll relay more information about this as I learn more.
3. The grant for the Healthy Campus Initiative was secured by Paula Staight for the UO Health Center. The policy is being implemented by the UO Administration. These projects have been going on for about six years. The Rousseau executive has not made one attempt to talk to students about the policy or ask their input, which would be their only role in the process at all. (Well, I guess they made signs.)
4. Another interesting thing: in this two year period, smoking stations will be taken out. It would not surprise me at all if in two years cigarette litter is a reason cited for following through with an enforceable policy. By any means necessary, right?

From the video:

Zoltan: One of the questions that remains is whether or not the smoke-free campus will be an enforceable policy change or if it will remain a symbolic measure. Some campuses, such as Lane Community College, have given public safety officers the authority to issue citations for smoking.
Rousseau: It’s a possibility. I’m not in favor of it necessarily, because I think that when you can have that peer-to-peer communication and that community enforcement, that’s always going to be better and more positive.
UO President Lariviere: I think the only reason that we haven’t had one before, if I understand correctly, is that people confused a ban with the enforcement of the ban, and there was a fear that we were going to turn ourselves into a police state where where we’re chasing down people with cigarettes or snuff in their pocket. That’s not the case. What we simply want to do is send a message to everybody — faculty, staff, the community that come onto the campus, students, everybody — that tobacco is bad for you. It’ll kill you. And we don’t encourage it, in fact, we discourage it aggressively.* I think the medical evidence is so clear and unambiguous that there isn’t any reason institutionally that we shouldn’t simply make this statement.

*Cue Commentator Staff Writer Rockne Roll, smiling and smoking a cigar.

Rousseau’s comment doesn’t mean anything.

President Lariviere’s comments, however, reads as though the policy will not be enforceable, even in two years time. And if anyone’s going to be around at that time, it will hopefully be him.

With luck, tomorrow’s unveiling/press conference yields more answers than we have now.

Choose Your Own Adventure: Now with more boobs.

November 14th, 2010 by Ben Maras


In an attempt to reach out to at-risk partiers, the newest public service announcement from the National Health Service is reaching back to our youth for help. It’s not just the subject matter (use condoms) that makes it more fun and controversial than American ads, nor is it the Euro-chic nonchalance toward sex. The best part about it is that it’s essentially a Choose Your Own Adventure. With boobs.

In the vaguely-NSFW interactive video series, which is viewable on YouTube, you play as an unseen male character who is getting ready to go to a party with some friends, and have to make some tough choices about condoms: mostly whether to buy/use them. Depending which choices you make, you might totally get some, bro. Watch out though! Danger lurks around every corner and you might end up in the STD clinic.

The shaky Handycam saves the videos from being titillating, but they’re racy enough that British government officials can’t watch them at work due to porn filters. Predictably, moral-centric organizations like the Family and Educational Trust are complaining that the videos send a bad message to kids, because just saying no isn’t an option.

Norman Wells, the director of the Family and Education Trust, said the NHS should not be sending out the message that casual sex ‘leaves no regrets’.

He said: “It is grossly irresponsible of the NHS to present a graphic portrayal of unbridled lust in which a young woman is depicted as no more that a sex object and then to tell young men that they have ‘made the right choices’ simply because they have used a condom.”

Whether the objectification factor outweighs the message is debatable, but it’s not all sex and glamor. I’m not sure that sitting in an STD clinic being told you have AIDS/crabs/gonorrhea/etc. is really a regret-free outcome, and he leaves out the fact that — as I discovered — it’s entirely possible to cock-block yourself in the video.

Either way, though, if these stand any chance of getting the attention of the at-risk, they should be supported whole-heartedly. And if you disagree, turn to page 69, and a boulder will fall on your head.

EMU Shuffles Student Space For Sustainability Center

November 14th, 2010 by Lyzi Diamond

During its meeting on October 27th, the EMU Board approved a proposal that will accommodate a Student Sustainability Center in the EMU by undergoing minor shifts in student space. These shifts will occur in the next few months, with the permitting process beginning this week.

The approved proposal includes three main shifts: the six groups currently housed in Suite 20 will move into office-type accommodations in The Break; the Service Learning Program will move into Suite 20; and the new Student Sustainability Center will move into the space that currently houses the Service Learning Program.

The accommodations for Suite 20 groups in The Break will include individual offices with nine-foot temporary walls and locking doors.

The vision for a Student Sustainability Center existed long before this year, but increased momentum and wider student involvement have allowed the project to reach this point. Most specifically, this includes the creation of a Student Sustainability Coalition, where 15 university groups with mission statements surrounding sustainability can work together on issues that affect them.

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