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“Perceived” Rights and Smoker Ethics

December 11th, 2012 by C.W. Keating

After getting off of work in the dungeon that is the Knight Library basement, I stepped into the afternoon rain. I pulled a pre-rolled cigarette from my pocket (Bugler brand – mangy, disgusting Bugler) and lit it. Standing off to the side so as not to spread smoke, an elderly woman shot me the evil eye before stopping in front of me: “There’s no smoking on campus. Go smoke across the street.”

I stared at her until she left.

This kind of situation has become all-too-common since the Healthy Campus Initiative, in partnership with the UO Health Center and the administration (with a special guest funding appearance from the ASUO), implemented a campus-wide smoking ban at the beginning of the Fall. The idea of a smoking ban isn’t anything new; the Smoke Free Campus Task Force (SFTF) issued a report in 2008 that sought to

tak[e] up the matter of campus smoking policy with the understanding that the issue is fueled by strong personal convictions for perceived personal rights, both the right to be free from the effects of secondhand smoke and the right to choose to smoke cigarettes (STFT Report, emphasis mine)

The rest of the report either references student support from polls drawn from other universities, or flat-out neglects student responses in order to reference various studies, policies, and polls from other universities. Under “Synthesis of Survey Findings of UO Faculty, Staff, and Students,” the report states that

Many survey respondents are ready to support the move to a smoke free campus… [and] also were confident that this could be accomplished with designated smoking areas… (Ibid.)

Oh, hey, there’s a reasonable point. But no! The STFT simply cannot concede, because “enforcement becomes very difficult and compliance suffers as a result.” You don’t say.

No matter what the administration does, what programs it implements, what funding it pulls or pushes, students will push against it. Lord knows the Commentator will. The Healthy Campus Initiative tried to remedy this student disconnect with the “STFU” posters, a internet-conscious campaign that seemed to confuse people more than encourage quitting (check out this post about the issue from our very own Editor Emeritus Sophia Lawhead).

Another argument is that it unfairly targets lower-income UO workers. Even those filthy hipsters at the OV agree with us on this point. Making workers go off campus for a 15 minute smoke break is not only inconsiderate, but damaging to already-strained labor relationships.

“All I wanted was a non-fat, cream-jizzed latte with peasant tears in it!”

So why bring up this almost-5-year-old report, you may ask? Because Frances Dyke and company never really cared about what students thought. The UO has become a brand, and it needs to sell itself in order to keep flagging state funding and private donor contributions steady. The publicity surrounding the ban has relentlessly focused on the “progressive” aspects of the program without attending to the opinions of students or faculty – and if so, only through narrow data samples used to prop up their point.

But the effects of secondhand smoke are serious. I completely understand the goal behind the smoking ban. Cigarette butt litter continues to be a problem, and has only been exacerbated by the ban — take a look at the 13th and Kincaid entrance to campus if you don’t believe me. Families with young children and people with respiratory problems are also rightfully concerned.

The only way to fight this ban, then, is to implement a personal smoker code of ethics to demonstrate smoker commitment to a healthy campus and personal freedoms. Here’s mine:

  1. Always smoke away from buildings and large groups of people, and/or areas of great traffic.
  2. Stop inhaling and pull the cigarette as far away from passing families with children.
  3. If someone asks you to smoke off campus, politely decline or simply don’t say anything at all. You’ll be finished if and when they call DPS.
  4. Put butts out and make sure they’re extinguished before throwing them away.
  5. Throw butts in the trash.
  6. If an officer asks you to put your cigarette out, assess the situation. Fines suck, but so do the deprivation of “perceived personal rights.”
  7. Overall, recognize that your activity is looked down upon. Take pride in this.

It’s not perfect, but it works for me. The Commentator will continue to fight this arbitrary ban with articles, letters, appeals, and upcoming events like Tobacco Appreciation Day. But the ball is in smokers’ courts. We at the Commentator will do our best to point out the massive cavalcades of bullshit directed at students who make the choice to smoke. This smoking ban is just another attempt at nannying the student populace; the administration never does anything without direct benefit to them, and they’ve fucked smokers to bolster their public image under the pretense of “knowing what’s best.”

The whole campaign feels like yet another pat on the head, another assumption about our intelligence, actions, and responsibilities. But we’re not kids anymore. We’re adults, students, workers, and yes, smokers. So smoke ’em if ya got ’em. It’s going to be a long, long battle.

OC editor, former publisher also married

January 24th, 2012 by OC Editorial Board

Publisher Emeritus Ross Coyle (pictured) and Editor-in-Chief Sophia Lawhead have been in a sham marriage for two years. They have never so much as been photographed together.

Look, it didn’t occur to us until now that this would be an issue, but our editor-in-chief and publisher emeritus have been married for two years.

Better financial aid packages are available to married students and, though Publisher Emeritus Ross Coyle’s schooling was paid for because he is a member of the US Army Reserve, Editor-in-Chief Sophia Lawhead would not have had the money to attend the University of Oregon if her sham marriage to Coyle didn’t up her financial aid.

Coyle has said he thought the marriage would be a romantic union when he entered into it. Lawhead admits she perpetuated that illusion.

The Commentator is unapologetic about this situation. It’s a matter of class. Some of us have rich parents who can pay our way through school. Others need to defraud the government. It’s all in the game.

Lawhead said her relationship with Coyle “has not had any impact” on the Commentator’s affairs.

“This year, I have been more removed from the Oregon Commentator than I ever have,” Lawhead said.

We wouldn’t have even mentioned it except that it seems this kind of thing is such a big deal to everybody.

Holiday Reading

November 24th, 2011 by Melissa Haskin

Looking for a giggle?

Here are a couple of article from the archives worth reading:

In Defense of Free Speech. January 16, 2010 by D.

12 Things My Dorm Fire Inspector Wasn’t Happy About. October 21, 2009 by Nick Ekblad.

Chip Kelly Writes Check to Aggrieved Fan. September 21, 2009 by Ian.

Determinism makes one more likely to be cheater, pumpkin eater. April 18, 2008 by CJ Ciaramella.

Give Them A Pulitzer. April 26, 2005 by Timothy.


Hitting the Big Time

November 22nd, 2009 by Vincent

I’d like to extend our congratulations to OC Editor Emeritus and current editor of the excellent The Truth About Cars blog for getting an op-ed published in no lesser a venue than the New York Times. Anyone who said the OC was nothing but a bunch of drunken bums… err, well… was probably right. But these drunken bums sometimes get published in the Times. I bet you haven’t been published in the Times. Jerk.

Cash for Clunking Doctors

August 14th, 2009 by Timothy

It has come to my attention that our numerous trolls, illiterates, and Palin-bangers are upset about Dane’s trashing of the nation’s most prominently vapid GILF*. Their incohate bleating, weeping, and gnashing of teeth have inspired me to write a post I was going to write anyway, only on the clock instead of this afternoon. Way to go, chums.

Yesterday the LA Times ran a pretty good piece on Washington’s latest completely wasteful boondoggle: Cash for Clunkers. Unless you’ve been living under a rock or a bridge like the commenters a post down, you’re undoubtedly aware that the government is offering a $4,500 rebate on “clunkers” toward the purchase of a new car. Aside from effectively establishing a price floor on the used market and maybe pricing a bunch of people out, the program does not apply to any car manufactured before 1984. Why? Good old regulatory capture and political economy.

The restrictions were pushed by lobbyists for the Specialty Equipment Market Assn., a Diamond Bar group that represents companies that sell parts and services to classic and antique car collectors. The group, as well as classic car enthusiasts, have opposed cash for clunkers because they don’t want older vehicles to be destroyed.

When the proposals for a clunker buyback program surfaced early this year, the specialty equipment association opposed the entire concept because such a program could shrink the size of the market for aftermarket parts. The association eventually got lawmakers to adopt the age limit.

“We are very pleased that Congress was able to include that in the program,” said Stuart Gosswein, director of regulatory affairs at the association.

The association represents more than 7,000 companies that make all manner of auto-related products, including reproduction Model T tires and AMC Gremlin upholstery. The powerful interest group has won legislative battles nationwide to protect owners of classic cars and hot rods from laws covering vehicle noise, emissions tests and much else.


The Verdict

June 2nd, 2009 by Timothy

AK Breniman, OC alumn from way back and author of one of the best pieces of EPD investigative journalism (page 6) I’ve seen, has opened a fine boozing establishment!

The Verdict Bar & Grill is located in the bustling metropolis of Oregon City and just opened recently. I heard a rumor that even the mysterious RR “Pete” Hunt has made an appearance. I’ll be dropping in sometime in July, but show some loyalty and hit the place up if you’re local. Or in Eugene. 100 miles is not too far to drive home, trust me.

Saluting Joe Biden/Alum Sighting

February 25th, 2009 by CJ Ciaramella

The folks over at Reason have put together this great video saluting Joe Biden, real man of genius:

Also, Oregon Commentator alum and National Review staffer Mark Hemingway was recently on the talk show, discussing mandatory minimums, drug legalization and the future of conservatism, among other things.

OC on Pajamas TV

November 20th, 2008 by CJ Ciaramella

Yesterday I had the pleasure of being on Pajamas TV, part of Pajamas Media, for a discussion of conservatism on college campuses. View the whole megillah here. (Sorry, no embedding.) OC alum Owen Rounds is the producer over at Pajamas TV, in case you’re wondering how a schlub like me pulled that off.

P.S. You can see the top of Sudsy’s head (literally, the frothy carbonation) peeking into the shot as well.

25th Anniversary Issue

November 5th, 2008 by CJ Ciaramella

The 25th Anniversary Issue is now online. Inside you can find articles from OC editors past, including a really funny picture of Olly Ruff and Tyler Graf looking like lumberjacks. Hate mail, outrage and corrections can be directed to ocomment[at] Cheers!

Blogging Up That Hill

September 9th, 2008 by CJ Ciaramella

So I’m now the Blog Editor of CAMPUS Magazine Online, the online publication of the Collegiate Network. I’ll be writing over there mostly about higher education. I’ll crosspost some of the articles here, but if you’re interested, check out the real deal.

In other news, OC alum and current Zamboni operator Jake Speicher has a personal blog with a long name, and it’s pretty good.

OC Alum Bill Beutler on

August 9th, 2008 by CJ Ciaramella

Oregon Commentator alum and new media strategist William Beutler is on this week’s edition of You can see him chat it up with Bill Scher about twittering, presidential polls and veep selection. Keep on rocking in the free world, Bill.

Blast From the Past

July 24th, 2008 by CJ Ciaramella

Found in a March 1985 issue of Newsweek On Campus focusing on “the conservative student”:

Many of the newcomers do strive for a more temperate tone. The University of Oregon’s right-wing Commentator has won professional awards – and it has an avowed gay and liberal as a contributing editor. (The paper did once refer to campus feminists as “bitchy nuns,” but editors now say they regret it.)

Rest in Peace, Joe

November 7th, 2007 by Sho

Joe Ryan, aka Viggy “Supafreak” James, friend of the Oregon Commentator and venerable contributor of haiku to the “Nobody Asked Us…” pages of the Beutler era, passed away yesterday. OC alumnus Brandon has written a fine post in remembrance of Joe.

Graf got a job! O’Toole nails Portland

October 4th, 2007 by Ossie


Portland has been regarded by many as an example of what a clean and green city should be. But some are opposing this belief. OC alum Tyler Graf wrote an article for Portland’s Daily Journal of Commerce (we can’t believe someone hired him either) highlighting the criticism of Cato Institute bigwig Randal O’Toole:

“What I see is a sorting of the population,” O’Toole said from a Cato Institute-sponsored conference. “Higher educated people live in the city, while less educated, less well-off people are pushed to the suburbs.” According to O’Toole, this marginalizes suburbs and exports crime to peripheral neighborhoods.


Mark Hemingway on NPR today

September 17th, 2007 by Blaser

Just wanted to let you all know that OC alumnus Mark Hemmingway was on NPR’s All Things Considered today to talk about the recent news that the Iraq government is banning Blackwater USA from working in the country after civilians were fatally shot in a gunbattle involving Blackwater employees. You can here the interview here, and read more about the Blackwater story here.