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Archive for May, 2011

UO ASL Professor Fired For In-Class Comment

May 17th, 2011 by Lyzi Diamond

The Oregon Daily Emerald is reporting that University of Oregon American Sign Language Professor Peter Quint has been fired for a comment he made to a student in his ASL 203 course on May 4th. From the article:

Quint began the class Wednesday with a personal story about being confronted by a group of men with guns while traveling in Pakistan with a group of friends. According to students, Quint, who is deaf, explained he was able to get out of the situation safely because he could communicate to the men that he was not a threat.

The story was intended to highlight the importance of communication, students said. It came about after several students repeatedly ignored Quint’s requests to only sign conversation. Quint lost his hearing due to meningitis when he was two and insisted students only sign during his classes so everyone could participate.

According to students present, later in Wednesday’s class, Quint noticed that a student spoke rather than signed, got upset and asked the student, “Do you want me to shoot you?”

“He wasn’t saying he was actually going to shoot anyone,” Claire Johnson, who is in several of Quint’s classes this term, said of the comment, adding that it was intended to relate back to the story and was taken out of context. “I didn’t find it threatening.”

While an inappropriate comment, certainly, was Quint entirely out of line? I’ve never taken an American Sign Language class, but I have taken the 200-level Spanish sequence, and in those classes we were required to speak Spanish. Indeed, in 201, if you spoke English at all the professor would not acknowledge your question or comment.

It doesn’t seem like this situation should be any different, especially since ASL now counts for language requirements in preparation for a Bachelor of Arts degree. And especially since Quint could not hear his students, whereas most if not all Spanish profs at the UO can speak English, the need to sign was even more immediate.

According to the rest of the article, the students in Quint’s classes were not given much if any say in the process of his termination. Who made the decision to fire him, and what was their motivation? Did Quint have tenure, and did that contribute to his firing?

This story, needless to say, is developing. We’ll provide more information as it comes available.

The University Zoo: The animals run wise and free–as you and I should be.

May 16th, 2011 by Lyzi Diamond

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education is one of the most unique and powerful organizations of the right now. Its mission is to “defend and sustain individual rights at America’s colleges and universities,” and it is extremely successful in this regard. Indeed, a few years back when the Oregon Commentator was defunded by the Programs Finance Committee for our content, FIRE came in with a letter to then-President Dave Frohnmayer and our funding was restored. FIRE also publishes guides to student rights on university campuses, including a particularly interesting one on student fees and funding (hint hint ASUO folks hint hint).

Basically, FIRE is hella awesome, as are the people who work there.

One of those people, Vice President of Programs Adam Kissel, is an Oregon Commentator fan as well as an excellent writer. And in 2008, he was published by the National Association of Scholars as part of a post on Dr. Seuss’s 1950 fable If I Ran The Zoo. First, some of Peter Wood’s comments:

Dr. Seuss’s protagonist, young Gerald McGrew, suffers none of his sophisticated contemporaries’s deadly contempt for life as it is, or for his social surroundings. His opening words are, “It’s a pretty good zoo, and the fellow who runs it seems proud of it too.” But McGrew imagines he could do better. He would release the current animals and acquire creatures such as a ten-footed lion and a family of Lunks in a bucket from the wilds of Nantucket. He dreams of zookeeper glory, when “the whole world will say, ‘Young McGrews’s made his mark. / He’s built a zoo better than Noah’s whole Ark!’”

McGrew’s bestiary comes from Linneas-knows-not-where, but surely Dr. Seuss has posed a good question. If you ran the zoo, could you outdo McGrew?

This being the National Association of Scholars, we are interested in one particular zoo, American higher education. Of course, we mean this metaphor in the most benign way. We are not conjuring Animal House fraternities, or epithets like “Zoo Mass” for the University of Massachusetts. We are sober critics here at NAS and do not engage in petty satire. Rather we pose the question in the spirit of Dr. Seuss. We have sometimes doubted that it’s a pretty good zoo. But, say that it is. It still could be better.

And, of course, Kissel’s contribution:

(1) Adam Kissel
If I Ran the University Zoo

If I ran the university zoo,
The number of administrators would be divided by two,
And two, and two, and two, and two,
Leaving more resources available for me and for you.

And maybe I’d do something about peer review.
The sociologist will learn how to speak with the entomologist
And the psychologist and the geologist
And the philologist and the astronomist and the economist
So that the Faculty Club will again serve discussion
And not only the gastronomist.

The faculty will know the difference
Between liberal education and general education,
Between liberal education and liberalism,
Between liberal education and illiberal policies,
Between liberal education and secondary education,
Between liberal education and research,
Between liberal education and Division I athletics.

The faculty will enjoy thinking about these differences,
Talking and debating about these differences,
Teaching about these differences,
And assessing students to make sure they understand

What they are doing in the zoo,
This zoo rather than some other zoo,
Where the administration has been cut by twos,
And the teams are at most in Division Two.

Sure, I believe in the unity of knowledge
But some kinds of studies are not for college,
At least not for degrees.
The world needs plumbers and clowns,
Horse-trainers and dog-trainers,
Athletes and acrobats and accordionists,
And advocates for or against this or that.
But college is the place to get up on philosophy
And science and math and religion and thinking
And writing and the other liberal arts.
College is not for jobs but for smarts.

If I got to run the zoo
And someone stood accused
Of something he maybe didn’t do
(Or maybe he did), he would get the process he is due.

The rules would be clear and applied equally to all.
Rule #1 would be a zero-tolerance policy
For speech codes and “free speech zones.”
Let academic freedom reign—

But this is where peer review
Comes into transdisciplinary purview.
Let each professor defend his work before his peers,
Across the university, and in the public sphere
So that honor may accrue where it is due—
And ridicule for those more than a few
Who cannot quite justify what it is that they do.

“The books stand open and the gates unbarred,”
Spoke Seamus Heaney at Harvard Yard.

At the university zoo, as I would do,
The animals run wise and free—as you and I should be.

Absolutely brilliant. Indeed, I believe my exact word to him was, “Heroic.”

Follow Adam on Twitter (and FIRE while you’re at it). We have a Twitter account, too: you can follow us here.

College Republicans: Burgers, Sunshine, & Art Robinson

May 15th, 2011 by Melissa Haskin

It is quite rare to find a full plate of food including a drink and dessert for $5. Such will be the case this coming Saturday as the University of Oregon College Republicans put on a barbecue featuring Robert Powell and Art Robinson as guest speakers.

While alcohol will not be provided, vegetarian options will be available. The event will be open to all regardless of where they lie on the political spectrum. The barbecue will be held outside at the Lane GOP headquarters (2225 Coburg Road Eugene, OR 97401) unless it rains, but we all know it never rains in Oregon. The event will run from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. and students are welcome to show up at any time during the event. The speakers are scheduled to start at 3:00 p.m.

Zach Webb, Chairman of the University of Oregon College Republicans, discussed the event with the Commentator.


Worst jurisprudence ever? Indiana rules against right to privacy.

May 15th, 2011 by Lyzi Diamond

The Northwest Indiana Times is reporting that the Indiana Supreme Court has ruled that Indiana residents have no right to prevent a police officer from illegally entering their homes.

The official decision can be downloaded here. The decision was by no means unanimous, with two justices believing that the ruling goes against the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which states:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

From the article (emphasis mine):

“We believe … a right to resist an unlawful police entry into a home is against public policy and is incompatible with modern Fourth Amendment jurisprudence,” [Justice Steven] David said. “We also find that allowing resistance unnecessarily escalates the level of violence and therefore the risk of injuries to all parties involved without preventing the arrest.”

David said a person arrested following an unlawful entry by police still can be released on bail and has plenty of opportunities to protest the illegal entry through the court system. […]

Justice Robert Rucker, a Gary native, and Justice Brent Dickson, a Hobart native, dissented from the ruling, saying the court’s decision runs afoul of the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

“In my view the majority sweeps with far too broad a brush by essentially telling Indiana citizens that government agents may now enter their homes illegally — that is, without the necessity of a warrant, consent or exigent circumstances,” Rucker said. “I disagree.”

Based on Justice David’s opinion and the court’s subsequent ruling, in order for citizens to protest a decision of a law enforcement official, they must do it through the same system that instigated the transgression. As Americans, our rights should be granted to us, and should it want to take them away, the government must provide a damn good reason. A serious infringement is created in a situation where Hoosiers must defend their rights to privacy within the very system that is trying to take them away. This may be the worst example of nanny-state politicking in place today. Here’s hoping Oregon never decides go down this path.

Feds uncover Bin Laden porn stash

May 14th, 2011 by Ben Maras

American officials have uncovered what appears to be Osama Bin Laden’s porn stash in his Abbottabad compound, and it’s “fairly extensive” according to Reuters. While the contents of the hard drive haven’t been leaked by Wikileaks / Anonymous yet, an unnamed source told the news organization that the collection consisted mostly of modern, digitally recorded videos. This, despite the fact that he lived devoid of wired Internet and phone connection to the outside world, and relied on flash drives and Internet cafes to send messages (and, apparently, collect porn).

There’s no word yet on where in the house it was found, or which rooms were wired for viewing pleasure, so there are a lot of questions remaining. Was it his personal collection, or a shared spank bank to help quell insurrection and improve morale of the troops? Avi, or Mpeg? What sort of porn is a fundamentalist nutjob in to, anyway?  The world may never know / care.

What we do know, is that it’s only a matter of time until someone starts blaming he evil porn that corrupted his mind and drove him to jihad.

My bet is for Pat Robertson.


SB348 and the OLCC: Second Verse, Same as the First

May 14th, 2011 by Ashley

The OLCC is at it–and in **it–again. In another show of their even-handed enforcement, OLCC director Steve Pharo has been caught playing footsie with beer and wine lobbyist Paul Romain. The goal: railroad a bill that would benefit the western supermarket chain Grocery Outlet, increase competition in a legal manner, and, most harrowing of all, hurt the pocket books of the middle-man distributors.

Harry Esteve of The Oregonian has the background:

As far back as 1986, the chain was told by OLCC that it could store wine at its central warehouse in Clackamas and ship the wine to its stores, which sells groceries and wine at prices that are often lower than other stores by 20 percent or more.

In late 2007, the chain was told it could no longer cut out the distributor middleman. That prompted a lawsuit and proposed legislation. The issue is now awaiting a decision of the state Court of Appeals.

Meanwhile, [Grocery Outlet lobbyist] DiLorenzo and [Senator] Atkinson are pushing a bill that would essentially moot the court decision and allow the grocery chain to continue operating as it has.

Thus we have Senate Bill 438, which, “Authorizes holder of off-premises sales license, under certain conditions, to store wine at licensed premises for transport to other licensed premises for sale at retail.” Basically, it allows for what Grocery Outlet had been doing for roughly twenty years before it became a problem.

Our friends at the OLCC don’t like that, and are making it clear. Earlier this month, emails between Romain and Pharo came to the public eye, giving us all a lovely look at the OLCC’s objectivity. Among other obvious breaches of neutrality, Romain quite considerately pointed out, “There are some amendments to 438 that expand the storage and delivery privilige to all premises licenses. I believe that would present a huge fiscal for the OLCC in tax collection and control.” (I imagine an attached winky-face was mistakenly removed by his secretary.) To be extra helpful, Romain also sent along a document titled “Senate Bill 438 Talking Points”, just in case his minions needed some help with their homework. This exchange, notably, came after Kitzhaber asked the agency to remain neutral, a point also noted in the emails.

Romain, for his part, has faced the accusations like any well-trained James Bond villain:

Romain chuckled out loud when he heard the charge. He said it’s his job to inform the OLCC about issues important to his clients. Furthermore, he said, the beer and wine distributors sought and were given approval to intervene in the lawsuit on the side of OLCC.

“Of course I’m communicating with them on a regular basis,” he said, suggesting the release of the emails by DiLorenzo was more of a political stunt than an attempt to reveal supposed wrongdoing by OLCC. [OC note: He then tapped his fingers together menacingly, muttering, “Good. Good.”]

Pharo himself has called this all a crazy coincidence (no, really), Romain has accused DiLorenzo of being a drama queen, and Atkinson has called everyone meanie poo-poo heads and defriended them on Facebook. Thus, it would seem the Oregon public will have to wait and see if SB 348 survives the Senate before we get any meaningful discourse. Meanwhile, as we all sit back with a sad sigh and watch the political mud-slinging, OLCC Chair Philip D. Lang has this finger of wisdom to wag at the other side, namely Senator Lee Beyer, D-Springfield:

I have been at somewhat of a loss trying to understand why  you…are spending so much effort on SB 348…You of all people, just coming off several years as Chair of the Public Utilities Commission knows that special interest legislation does not make good public policy.

Cheers, sir. Cheers.

[ also has the story here, and the emails can be read in full here.]

SB 742: Tuition Equity?

May 14th, 2011 by Lyzi Diamond

There is much debate in the state of Oregon about Senate Bill 742, which “Provides that certain students are entitled to exemption from nonresident tuition and fees at state institutions of higher education.” These “certain students” are illegal immigrants and children of illegal immigrants who went to high school or achieved a high school diploma (or the equivalent) in Oregon, and “exemption from nonresident tuition and fees” means in-state tuition.

The legislation has passed the Oregon Senate, making its way to the Oregon House Rules Committee. A public hearing was held this week, where a large group of people came to testify on both sides of the aisle. From the Oregonian:

The hearing drew a packed crowd that spilled into two other hearing rooms and the Capitol hallways, where they could watch it on television. A total of 23 people testified in support of the bill, including Susan Castillo, state superintendent of public instruction; Jim Francesconi, vice president of the State Board of Higher Education; business owners, students and several legislators.

Francesconi said all of the university presidents and the entire state board support the bill. Based on a study of other states with similar laws, university officials project the bill would bring only a handful of illegal students into Oregon universities – about 33 to 39 a year, climbing to about 60 a year by 2016-17. […]

Another 22 people spoke against the bill. They included members of immigration reform groups, retired military men, and many Salem residents. Many of them argued the law would cost the state thousands, even millions, of dollars in lost tuition.

“I’d like to dub this bill the feel-good flop for this session,” said Cynthia Kendall of Salem. “Everyone wants to feel like they are doing something good for the children of illegal aliens. …The Oregon citizen, the Oregon college student and the Oregon taxpayer are getting the shaft.”

There have also been a slew of letters in the Oregon Daily Emerald in support of and in opposition to the bill, including ones written by UO administration and ASUO officials. The first one, co-signed by University President Richard Lariviere and ASUO President-elect Ben Eckstein (yeah, probably the last time that’ll happen), shows strong support for the bill:

Students who would benefit from this legislation are successful and high-achieving students who have inherited circumstances outside of their control. Just as we are working toward a brighter future for Oregon, students who would benefit from SB 742 are working to build on the investment the state has made in them. With affordable access to higher education, they will strengthen Oregon’s communities and contribute to the state’s economy.

ASUO Vice President-elect Katie Taylor also gave her two cents, drawing on her personal experience (which, in my opinion, is fairly unrelated, but so long as it makes her feel good):

As an undergraduate student and incoming vice president of the ASUO, I think it is absurd that a person can live in the state of Oregon practically their entire life and then be charged out-of-state tuition. I myself was not born in Oregon; I became a resident before I attended college and was charged in-state tuition.

As a working-class student, I am thankful that I am able to more easily afford to go to school, and undocumented students that have grown up in Oregon deserve as least this much. Furthermore, I know my college experience is enhanced by the diversity of students who attend my school. We should be working towards finding ways to increase this diversity, not decrease it. So with that, I am calling out to all students and community members to support SB 742 and call our representatives to ask them to do the same.

The only letter in opposition to the bill was written by UO undergraduate Adam Marcus, whose opposition — focused on the financial burden on the state — seems only a tiny bit misguided, but makes a good point:

In what namesake is this a level of equality? The in-state tuition is supported by the taxpayers of this great state, so it essentially boils down to the rest of us to carry the fiscal burden of another classification of students.

And did no one read the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996? It clearly states that “no U.S. state entity will offer benefits to Illegal Aliens not available to all legal residents of the United States.” This means that if there should be an exemption of in-state tuition to this illegal populous, it would have to allow a student-resident of Iowa in for the same price. Call me crazy, but that is a rather big mistake there.

I find this proposition of equality a clouded bias towards a temporary fiscal spike that would end up dragging the Oregon economy even further into recession. The clause of these applicants “demonstrating their intent to be permanently domicile in Oregon” is a conglomeration of fancy words intended to take away from the real issue. Illegal immigrants pay no taxes because they are exempt from the system. Why should we citizens support those who don’t contribute their portion to the society?

He does have a point. In a state with no sales tax — somewhat of an equalizer in determining who is paying taxes compared to Oregon’s current state — those who own property and have higher (taxed) income are paying a greater portion into the state coffers, the situation exists where legal citizens are bankrolling the lives of illegals. The federal DREAM act seems to be facing similar opposition.

Anyone who wants to be a citizen of the United States should be able to become one. Legal immigration should be much easier than it is. But should we really give greater allowances to illegal immigrants that United States citizens? In order to become an Oregon resident and achieve in-state tuition, an American from another state needs to work for a year (taxable income) and establish a home in Oregon. He or she cannot be a full-time student. And even when he or she has achieved this year of working in Oregon, there is no guarantee that he or she can become an Oregon resident for tuition purposes — it’s up to UO Admissions.

Is this legislation fair to the hard-working non-resident UO students who would now not only be footing the bill for in-state residents but also illegal immigrants? I’m going to say no. That’s not tuition equity I can believe in.

Did the Ol’ Dirty ever have class?

May 12th, 2011 by Lyzi Diamond

“Well, that’s embarrassing.”

That was my reaction when I opened to the opinion page of the Oregon Daily Emerald today and found this:

Top 10 Ways you know you’re Republican

Whether you’re a gun-toting Texan or a money-hogging oil tycoon, the GOP has enough emphasis on “good ol’ American family” to make you idolize people like Ronald Reagan and George Bush.

If you don’t know whether you’re a Republican at heart, we have 10 signs that show that you are indeed a Republican.

1) Your idea of a tea party consists of 40-year-old men with guns
2) You’re pro-child and against educating them
3) You still think Barack Obama was born in Kenya
4) You believe Judgment Day is May 21
5) Women’s Rights?
6) The thought of things trickling down turns you on
7) Sarah Palin? Michelle Bachman? Total RILFs, bro
8) You’ve gone through three divorces, but you think gay marriage will ruin the American family structure
9) You think Dick Cheney is a good hunter
10) Your news is fair and balanced

Let’s let alone for a minute the fact that the Emerald opinion desk wouldn’t know subtlety or humor if they walked up and introduced themselves. Let’s also let alone the fact that there are so many better things the Ol’ Dirty could have put in that space that students would have cared about. (While we’re at it, we can also ignore the gross misspelling of Rep. Michele Bachmann’s name, although it will serve to illustrate my point.)

This list shows a complete lack of knowledge or understanding of the Republican Party and what it’s about, especially in Oregon.

I am a registered member of the Oregon Republican Party, and a proud one at that. I am a member because of the three things the Oregon Republican Party stands for: accountability in spending, protecting our environment and protecting our schools. The misspelling of Rep. Bachmann’s name was not the only flaw in the severely misguided column; it is clear that when it passed through the opinion editor’s desk, it was never fact checked, not even a little bit.

Not every Republican is a tea-partier, a birther or a social conservative. We’re not all religious nuts, and we don’t all blindly stand behind elected leaders from our party.

Republicans identify as such because we believe in fiscal responsibility and civil liberties. We believe that all our constitutional rights should be exercised to their fullest extent, including the right to keep and bear arms. We believe in national defense, a free market and energy independence.

We believe in making a better America for all citizens.

At the Oregon Commentator, we publish blog posts and articles that are based on facts. We make fun of people, too, but it is always warranted and has a point. And we make sure to fact-check our pieces to the fullest extent, especially if we’re going to call someone (or a group of someones) out.

I would implore the folks at the Ol’ Dirty Emerald to, in the future, do some fact-checking, research “humor” and find some class. That is, if they haven’t strayed too far from it already.

I’ll leave you with three reasons it’s awesome to be a Republican:

1. Save what you make. Keep what you earn.
2. Avocados, papayas, bananas and every other fruit and vegetable that isn’t grown in the Willamette Valley (nom).
3. Teddy Roosevelt. Enough said.

Do You Really Like That Story?

May 12th, 2011 by Melissa Haskin

On April 17, 2011, the New Yorker‘s Facebook page read, “Jonathan Franzen’s essay on David Foster Wallace and solitude will only be available to our Facebook friends for one more day. Click on the ‘Fans Only’ tab to read.” Such a simple status was met with 67 comments expressing confusion, disappointment, anger and appreciation. Insults were thrown back and forth between Facebook users. Franzen was referred to as some form of “narcissist” on several occasions. Earlier in the week, the New Yorker posted on its blog that readers would have to visit its Facebook page to view Franzen’s piece; “This week only, if you ‘like’ The New Yorker’s Facebook page, you can read Jonathan Franzen’s piece ‘Farther Away,’ about his journey to the island of Masafuera, in the South Pacific, which appears in our current issue.” Just as The New York Times put up a paywall a few weeks earlier the New Yorker had put up a “like-wall” for online readers, and Jonathan Franzen’s story was its trial piece.

Like-walls have unique advantages that are especially helpful in marketing and advertising. First, when a user “likes” a page, all of his friends can see that he is a fan. In addition, once a user has “liked” a page, updates from that page will show up in a user’s newsfeed (a page which displays current and popular “news” from friends, status updates, pictures, videos, comments, re-posted articles, etc.). This means more interaction between the individual user and the page he is a fan of. But it doesn’t end there — when a Facebook user “likes” a page, the page gains access to that user’s information; how much information is dependent on the individual users’ settings. Organizations use this information to collect demographic data and then tailor their material accordingly. In a Neiman Journalism Lab article published on March 8, 2011, Megan Garber wrote, “It’s not just about how many people are liking (and, you know, Liking) your stuff; it’s about who’s liking it — according to age range, gender, location, and language.”


ASUO Senate Meeting, 5/11/2011

May 11th, 2011 by Stephen Murphy

Watch the senate meeting! It’s way exciting!

Passive tactics may be futile in enforcing impending smoking ban, study shows

May 11th, 2011 by Lyzi Diamond

In case you’ve been living under a rock or something, the University of Oregon will become a smoke-free campus starting in the fall of 2012. Based on the information provided to the Oregon Commentator thus far, the ban will not be actively enforced, as it is at the University of Iowa, but will be a campus culture change, complete with the removal of smoking stations (ashtrays), the installation of “no smoking” and “smoke-free campus” signs and an implicit and explicit understanding that this is a smoke-free campus, with our peers staring us down until we put out our cigarettes.

But GOOD’s culture team points us to a recent study done by a researcher at Oxford University which shows that no-smoking signs actually encourage smokers to pull one out and light up. From GOOD:

“When I say ‘don’t think of a pink elephant,’ I’ve just put the thought of a pink elephant in your head,” says Earp. “No smoking signs in particular are everywhere. If you’re a smoker walking down a street you’re likely to pass five or six of these signs in windows or on doors. If you have a chronically positive attitude to smoking this could boost your craving.”

And from the Daily Mail article linked to above:

Mr Earp added: ‘What’s interesting is the ironic effect of the negative image. No smoking signs are meant to discourage an activity but what happens is you get a kick back so that the very item that’s supposed to be prohibited becomes more desirable.

‘My hunch is that having all this “don’t do this” information out there may have ironic consequences.’

If the forward movement on the UO smoking ban is indeed going to involve an insurgence of signs and peer pressure, the ASUO, Paula Staight and the UO administration may want to rethink their tactics. If the goal is to get students to quit smoking, perhaps they should funnel some of that $800,000 PacificSource-donated healthy campus initiative money to education on tobacco and smoking rather than a passive-aggressive, peer-pressuring ban.

Maybe allowing students to think for themselves based on provided information may actually be more effective than telling them how to live their lives.

EWEB Diagnosed With ADHD Scheduling Power Outage to Rid Some Energy

May 9th, 2011 by Melissa Haskin

Power outage at 4:30 a.m.? Usually no biggie. Except this is college; where people actually do homework at 4:30 a.m. Anyways, EWEB is planning one, something about “de-energizing.” That doesn’t sounds fishy at all….*cough. From the EWEB website (also available via KVAL):

May 9, 2011

EWEB plans morning outage to repair power line

Eugene Water & Electric Board customers in the downtown area and the university district will experience a short power outage early Tuesday morning while electric line crews briefly de-energize a transmission line.

The outage will begin at about 4:30 a.m. and is expected to last 30 minutes or less.

EWEB line crews will de-energize a section of the utility’s 115-kilovolt transmission line in Alton Baker Park to make repairs that could include replacing an insulator.

This particular section of line first drew attention on April 28, when a great blue heron caused a flashover that resulted in a one-hour outage for parts of downtown and the university district. Early Saturday morning, another outage occurred. The outage lasted about 75 minutes and a troubleshooter traced the problem to the same section of transmission line.

p.s. This means your power is going to go out i.e. your alarm is going to reset itself when turned on, so do yourself a favor and use the alarm on your phone.

Happy Mother’s Day to You-Know-Who

May 9th, 2011 by Alex Tomchak Scott

My mother, me and her beloved cat Cosmo.

First, a caveat: Legend has it that, when the placenta was washed from a nascent Mother’s Day, what the doctors found underneath was a tacky excuse to sell greeting cards. This is probably true, but it’s a probable truth I find too depressing to actually confirm. If you’ve got a stronger stomach for that sort of thing, this page is probably a place to start. If it is so, let’s just give thanks to the capitalist goons responsible for giving us another excuse to appreciate the mothers in our lives.

Here’s an example of my own mother’s greatness.

The Cold War was still going on in 2000 at Rev. Benjamin Parker Elementary School; at least it was if you believed the textbooks and the teachers. The decrepit public education infrastructure of the state of Hawai’i had produced a sixth grade classroom in which a stack of lightly mold-damaged, burnt-orange relics from the mid-eighties was still passing as a social studies text. It had also produced a besieged sixth grade teacher so ill-compensated he was forced to work a second job in the kitchen of the Crouching Lion Inn to make ends meet, who seemed determined to teach us what was in those textbooks, regardless of what had happened since they arrived in the classroom.

When began to tell us about the two Germanies that evidently still existed, I raised my hand and said I thought there was only one.

“That’s not what it says in the book,” he said, and went on with the lesson. I began to think maybe I was the one who got it wrong and asked my mother that night.

My mother was not outraged when I told her that night. My mother teaches at the community college in my hometown. She sees what comes out of Hawai’i schools. She’s realistic. What was a sense of outrage going to solve. Rather than marching into the principal’s office, my mother loaded my sister and me into the old car her mom used to own and motored down to the library.

There she explained the fall of communism and then busied herself about the library computers compiling information about the unified Germany. She photocopied 20 sets of yellow-and-red handouts and sent me to school with them the next day to hand out to my class.

Mr. Lee grudgingly passed them around and went on with his lesson. He never really seemed to like my mom, something that undoubtedly had to do with the angst-ridden whelp of a spawn she plopped into his classroom; once he preposterously accused her of being drunk when she came to pick me up, when she was simply on the verge of heatstroke (which she braved to retrieve her young, by the way). The youth of Kane’ohe may or may not have grown a little wiser about European geography — the same number as ever seemed to end up fudging their way through my mother’s Spanish class — but at least someone went out of her way to correct a little calcified hunk of the negligence that got them there.

At least one gawky, self-doubting sixth grader learned that day that those in power are fallible and sometimes arbitrary. He learned that, when they are wrong, he must empower himself with knowledge and find the truth, and he learned too that he has a responsibility to bring the truth to others.

EMU and Rec Center renovations: more expensive than you may have thought.

May 8th, 2011 by Lyzi Diamond

EMU renovation

Friday’s RG had an interesting Greg Bolt article about the upcoming EMU and Student Rec Center renovations. The Oregon Commentator has covered this issue sporadically throughout the year, but Mr. Bolt has more information on how the project is moving forward, and how it is going to be funded [emphasis added]:

The University of Oregon could soon launch a huge overhaul of student recreation and activities facilities if it can win quick state approval of a $160.5 million plan to expand two key buildings.

The plan, which faces some challenges, would demolish and rebuild a substantial portion of the Erb Memorial Union, the central gathering space on campus for students and student groups. It also would add more than 100,000 square feet to the Student Recreation Center, including adding a two-pool swimming center.

Money for the project — which would get under way next year if approved by the state university system and legislators — would come from several sources, including private donations and funds already set aside for the work. But the largest amount would be raised through bonds backed by a substantial new fee on students, including students who would graduate before ever getting to use the new buildings.

For comparison, the most recent renovations to the Student Recreation Center happened in 1997, and current students are still paying them off, to the tune of $43.25 per term. This fee has been flat since Fall 2009, but was rising before it reached that plateau. It seems that the new fees will have a similar structure:

The work would be financed using $13.5 million the university previously set aside for the project, $35 million in private donations and the rest through bonds repaid with the new student fee. The fee would start at $30 per term in 2011-12, rise to $60 per term in 2012-13 and after that would remain at $100 per term — that’s $300 for an academic year — until the bonds were repaid.

$100 per term? Tack on the aforementioned $43.25 for the 1997 Rec Center renovations, the $45 building fee (for students taking 9 credits or more), $140.75 for the health services fee (regardless of how many credits you’re taking), and the $191 incidental fee, and you’re looking at $520 in fees per term (at least — we all know the incidental fee is going to keep rising no matter what). That’s $1,560 per year in fees, on top of tuition. That’s insane.

Now, the bonds and the subsequent student fee will still have to be approved by the state legislature, and never before has the legislature approved a fee for a building before it was built (for obvious reasons). Leave it to the University of Oregon to try and rock that boat.

What will we be getting for this exorbitant cost to students?

The newer wing of the EMU, built in the 1970s, would be demolished and rebuilt, creating 107,000 square feet of new construction.

With renovation of the older, Ellis Lawrence-designed main building, the EMU would gain a 1,200-seat performance venue, conference facilities, a 300-seat theater, expanded food court, space for 15 student unions and scores of student organizations, a computer lab and other features.

The original plan also included underground parking, but that was eliminated to save money.


The Student Recreation Center would gain a swimming center with connected lap and leisure pools, double the space for weight and fitness equipment, a three-court gym, expanded indoor jogging track, new racquetball and squash courts, new outdoor synthetic turf fields and more.

I completely understand the reason for the renovation, especially to the EMU, which is to bring more students to their student union. The biggest problem with the union, however, and any EMU board member will tell you this, is that the building is not financially self-sufficient. There are not enough revenue-generating services in the building to sustain itself, so students are subsidizing the cost of the building to the tune of $5,091,532 for 2011-12 (that’s for programs, services and building operations), plus additional funds from elsewhere in the university.

I have yet to see the official renovation plans, so I am unsure as to what exactly the new EMU will entail, but one worthy upgrade would be an actual kitchen (the one currently being used by food services is makeshift). Ideally, the performance venue and theater will create some revenue generation, or at least bring students to the union to make it a central part of campus. (Side note: did you know that the Grateful Dead once played in the EMU Ballroom, as well as many other worthwhile acts including Mudhoney?)

But the elimination of parking was also an interesting choice. And the (in my opinion, ridiculously extravagant) upgrades to the Student Rec Center seem frivolous and unnecessary, especially considering the state of disrepair of many other campus buildings.

Another issue that has not been addressed here is the fact that, from what I’ve heard, student programs will no longer have individual offices once the building is renovated. When I spoke with Vice President of Capital Projects Gregg Lobisser this past fall, he mentioned that the “space for 15 student unions and scores of student organizations” mentioned in the article would mean 15 satellites for student groups, including the Student Sustainability Center, the Multicultural Center, the ASUO and the Women’s Center. Within these satellite spaces, individual student programs would have their own work stations with lockers, but would likely not have their own office spaces.

Additionally, when we spoke, he said there were not yet plans for accommodation of student media services — that is to say, none of these “satellite unions” will be a Student Media Center, or even anything remotely similar.

Granted, the current model does not adequately serve the hundreds of groups that a student union should be able to accomodate. There are over 160 fee-funded student programs and less than half of them have offices, but those who do have offices have had them for a long time and use them to the fullest. Ask a program like the Oregon Voice, who was displaced from its office earlier this year to a much smaller space in The Break. Noah Dewitt, editor-in-chief of the Oregon Voice, said that the new space is much smaller than the previous space, does not have any storage space, is much louder than their previous space (The Break has a multitude of pool and ping-pong tables), and is open subject to The Break’s operating hours rather than the EMU’s operating hours, which means they can’t access their space as frequently. The storage space is likely the biggest issue, because they can’t access their archives themselves — they need someone from EMU Facilities to let them into their own storage.

Some student groups, the Oregon Commentator included, use their spaces for myriad activities — in our example, we hold meetings and work sessions in our office, as well as producing our magazine. I can’t imagine how difficult it would be to undergo production with a Student Insurgent desk five feet away and a Siren workstation five feet behind. It would be near impossible to do what we do under these circumstances.

Again, this all has yet to be approved by the legislature, and frankly, I’m not sure it will. But it’s something to start thinking about now, during the planning stages when large decisions are being made.

The rumor mill says that most members of the EMU Board have signed a letter in support of this student fee. That makes sense — most of them won’t be around when the fee is incurred, so it won’t affect them. But it’s sure as shit going to affect most students on this campus, most of whom will never see the finished products.

Student fees are rising constantly, tuition is skyrocketing out of control, and to charge students who will no longer be around to experience the new buildings is asinine, especially for a building that is going to devalue the experience of being involved in student organizations. Maybe a new EMU theater and a Rec Center swimming pool are going to be awesome, but at the cost to students, it seems like an unworthy investment.

Beer Week: Praise for Ninkasi. No, seriously.

May 3rd, 2011 by Kayla Heffner

God is to beer like peanut butter is to chocolate, a very tasty age-old combination.  Beer dates as far back as 6 b.c. to Sumerian writings that contain prayers about beer like the ‘Hym to Ninkasi’ , not only a devotion to the goddess, it also contains the recipe on how to make beer .  Now why wasn’t this at the church I went to?  In all seriousness though, writer and craft beer enthusiast, Andy Sparhawk points out ancient cultures all over the world make reference to the gift of beer, or the process of making beer, coming from a maker, God or Godess. recently released an article about craft breweries that pay homage to their ancient god or goddess’ roots and yes the name of Ninkasi Brewing made this holy list.

Ninkasi, the Sumerian goddess of intoxicating drinks, is said to brew beer everyday for other gods. The Hymn to Ninkasi was found on an ancient clay tablet in what is now Iraq. It attributes the founding of a town near a sacred lake to Ninkasi (another nod to beer helping to create civilization) and provides instructions for brewing.

Why pick one beer when Ninkasi Brewing Company named their whole brewery after this beer goddess. Have a look at this video, created by the brewery, which is a modern day interpretation of Ninkasi.

Some other notable deities mentioned in the article: Kautantouwits, who was said to have brought corn to some Native American tribes via a crow that came from the god’s garden (beer made with corn). Egyptian god Osiris is known for barley beer and drinking everyday– hey-o!– in addition to being  the god of dead and agriculture (there’s a life and death metaphor here but I’m coming up short at the moment). The creator, Onyame, hails from African belief, providing his people palm sap to brew beer and drink at their elder tribal meetings .  Not only did these people claim that beer came from gods, they believed beer to be the gateway for spiritual meditation, prayer and the facilitator for communication.  Beer was spiritual.

Reverence to this beloved drink is much different from how many in our culture view today’s beer; however, it is easy to see where our ancestors were coming from when enjoying beer brewed by today’s small and independent craft brewers. Despite our current understanding of the brewing process, a glass of beer still produces the same wonder, mystery, and enjoyment as it did thousands of years ago. Beer can, and I believe, should be celebrated in the same manner; as a gift from the gods [or God], sacred and, for some, even deeply spiritual.

Sparhawk illuminates stark differences from how beer culture was once revered in ancient times to its lesser holy reputation now,  but even with his seriousness about beer business, he still reminds consumers that they should drink merrily.

As we approach a time of year where many of today’s major religions recognize some of their most holy of times, it is important to recognize that beer has brought people together since mankind first discovered it. We can reflect on the idea that the power of beer has little to do with how much you consume, rather how it is enjoyed. Beer IS proof that some divine entity loved humankind and wants us all to be happy.

With that sort of send off, it just makes you all warm and fuzzy inside doesn’t it (wait that might be the beer talking)?  I raise my glass to you fellow beer drinkers: whether you consume or savor your craft beer, do so with a smile and friends nearby. Cheers (indeed)!