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Archive for the 'Civil Liberties' Category

Oregon legislature proposes incredibly silly bike law

January 13th, 2011 by Lyzi Diamond

From the Oregonian:

House Bill 2228 introduced by Rep. Mitch Greenlick (D-Portland), would amend an Oregon statute that bans unlawful passengers on a bike by making it illegal to carry a child younger than 6 either on the bike or in a trailer. The bill includes a fine of $90. […]

A former director of public health at Oregon Health & Science University, Greenlick said the bill was prompted by an OHSU study on injuries among serious bikers.

“It indicated that about 30 percent on average had a traumatic injury each year and about 8 percent had one serious enough to get medical attention,” Greenlick said, “so it really got me thinking about what happens if there’s a 4-year-old on the back of that bike when a biker goes down.”

He knows of no studies about the risks of carrying children in cargo trailers or on the back of a bike. But he said he wants to fire up a conversation in the Legislature.

“This is how the process starts,” he said. “We have hearings. People start testifying. You start getting the information to find out whether there is a problem or not.”

But, of course, Portland loves its bicycles and bike-friendly residents. Naturally, people are pissed, including the good folks at BikePortland.org:

“The bill itself is just ridiculous,” said Jonathan Maus, editor of the popular blog, bikeportland.org.

Other avid bikers got more personal, calling Greenlick “an idiot” in angry emails.

“I’ve got about 100 emails this morning,” Greenlick said. […]

Maus said the bill is misguided.

“We have massive transportation safety problems,” Maus said. “Transporting a child on a bicycle is no where near the top of anyone’s priority.

“I think it is a terrible miscalculation to start a debate with something so one-sided that prohibits the use of a transportation option by a large segment of the population,” Maus said.

He and his wife have raised their two daughters — now 8 and 5 years old — on bikes, carting them around the city in baby slings when they were tiny and then putting them in a cargo trailer at 3 months.

“We never had a problem,” Maus said.

In fact, he says drivers take more care when they see a kid on a bike or trailer, giving the bicyclist extra room.

“Everybody’s really careful,” Maus said.

He worries that the bill could curtail family biking — a popular activity in Portland and elsewhere — and hurt businesses in the state.

Here’s the thing: every activity is associated with risks. Literally every single activity. It is the job of the general public to identify those risks and make decisions about how to proceed. If bicyclists feel uncomfortable biking with children knowing the risks of doing so, they shouldn’t. If they feel comfortable knowing the risks, it is up to them to decide if it’s something they want to do.

It’s that simple.

Extra credit: Mia Birk’s letter to Greenlick asking him to withdraw the bill, saying he misinterpreted the study.

Gordon Smith, NAB attempt to thwart community radio projects

December 27th, 2010 by Lyzi Diamond

Jeff Mapes at the Oregonian writes about the Local Community Radio Act of 2009 and how the National Association of Broadcasters and former U.S. Senator from Oregon Gordon Smith are trying to halt its passage in Senate:

Smith is now president of the National Association Broadcasters, which is fighting legislation that would allow the creation of hundreds of low-power, non-commercial radio stations around the country.

The Local Community Radio Act passed the House and has strong support in the Senate, thanks in part to the unusual coalition behind it ranging from the Christian Coalition to the Prometheus Radio Project (which says it is devoted to “freeing the airwaves from corporate control”).

In part, the community radio movement has been driven by the sweeping consolidation of the radio industry, which in many cases has led smaller communities to lose local programming.

Not surprising, the National Association of Broadcasters opposes the bill, saying it’s concerned the bill would lead to interference with with stations owned by commercial broadcasters.

Maybe I’m wrong, but I thought the National Association of Broadcasters was supposed to be “the voice for the nation’s radio and television broadcasters.” I didn’t know that meant only commercial stations. Indeed, I know many non-commercial and low-power radio people, including the general manager at KWVA (UO campus radio), who are NAB members.

Radio is one of the premier mediums for dissemination of information around the world. In many places, it’s the only medium. There are multiple organizations — Radio Free Europe, for one — that work to provide unbiased information to individuals living in nations without free media. And it’s no coincidence that one of the things you’re supposed to have with you in an emergency situation is a battery-powered radio.

And I’m not the only one who feels this way.

“Gordon Smith is silencing voices across the country by opposing the expansion of community radio,” said Pete Tridish of the Prometheus Project, which had demonstrators juggling and whirling hula hoops.” So we’re here to say: Gordon Smith, don’t make a circus of our democracy – stop making us jump through hoops; work with Congress to pass this bill.”

Non-commercial radio, in addition to its immediate importance in emergency situations, provides opportunities that commercial radio does not — for example, the ability to play or talk about whatever you damn well please. Isn’t that what we’re supposed to be fighting for? A free and independent media is guaranteed to Americans, and the best way to do it is to fucking do it. So let them fucking do it.

Know Your Rights!

December 24th, 2010 by Nick Ekblad
Last Saturday, I hosted a party for my 20th birthday at my parents empty house. My family had just moved out of it and all that remained were two couches. At the height of the party, there were about 50 people packed in this house, with my friend mixing on his turntables in the corner. It was about midnight; a distressed friend came up to me and informed me of a policeman’s presence at the front door.
I quickly locked the door, set a chair in front of it and told my friend to not let anyone out. I then ran out the back door and around my house, approaching the piggy. I said to him, “What’s up?”
“Is this your house? We had a noise complaint.”
“It is my parents house. I’ve just got a few friends over. We checked the noise level from the edge of the property and couldn’t hear it.”
“How old are you?”
“I am 20.”
“So you got some underage drinkin’ goin’ on in there?”
“I didn’t say that.”
“But that’s what’s going on. Now you’re going to let me inside so we can call all of their parents to make sure that they get safe rides home.”
“No, that’s not happening.”
“Do you want me to go down to the station and get some friends of mine and come back? Because I’ll do that.”
“If that’s your way of saying you wanna go get a fucking warrant, then go ahead and fucking do it. But you’re not coming in my house. Now get the fuck off of my property.”
“I don’t need a warrant. I’ve got reasonable cause.”
At this moment, an underage and very dear friend of mine, who will remain unnamed, came drunkenly marching up my wheel chair ramp. Not paying attention to more than his direct surroundings, he walked up to the cop until his badge was right in front of his face. “Oh daaammn,” he slurred.
“Oh damn is right,” said the cop smugly and my anonymous friend fled the scene immediately.
“I’m getting out of the cold and you’re not allowed in. That’s the end of it. Get off my fucking property,” I said and started to walk away.
Grabbing my arm, he oinked loudly: “No! You’re being detained!”
This REALLY pissed me off. This cop put his hands on me on my own property. He had no right to do this. And in case you are under-informed and unaware, he had no right to come into my house, either. Cops lie. They can do this. You, however, cannot lie to a cop. It is against the law. You don’t say shit!
“Get your fucking hands off of me, you piece of shit! I am not being detained, you have no right to! Now get the fuck out of here!”
This guy was persistent. He followed me to the back door, which had been locked, as well. After trying the knob, I turned to him and said, “Well, I guess we are both locked out.”
“I’m on a ten hour shift, buddy. I can wait here all night.”
“I don’t need to be back to school ‘til January, so I can wait too.” I sat down on my stoop.
“Oh so you’re a big, smart college boy! Think you know all your rights do ya? Well, you’ve got some lessons to learn.”
I could sense this pig’s desperation. I texted my brother, telling him to keep everybody inside. People had already busted out screens and dipped. He went around closing the windows and refusing the people’s desire to escape.
Then, one of my silly friends thought he’d try his luck with this piggy. He opened my back door with the intention of wooing the officer, but I stood up immediately, grabbed him and pulled him in with me. As the cop took a step toward my open door, I slammed it in his face and flipped the deadbolt. Within five minutes, the police cruiser had left. The following hour, they were patrolling my whole neighborhood. He never came back and neither did his friends. Nobody at my party was harassed by police that night.
Moral of the story: A cops job is to seek out the illegal. He will lie and use scare tactics. When I first refused his entry into my house, he didn’t even let me finish my sentence. He put his hand in front of my face and said some numbers into his radio. My first reaction, drunk and drastic, was “Oh shit! He’s calling more cops over here! He’s getting ready to arrest me!” However, thinking about it more, I realized his method. You have to make the decision in your mind that you are innocent until proven guilty. They want you to confess because it makes their job easier. MAKE THOSE FUCKING PIGGIES WORK FOR IT!

Why we need net neutrality, and can’t trust the FCC to do it

December 23rd, 2010 by Ben Maras

Net neutrality has reared its head again in the passed couple weeks, thanks both to a new piece of legislation (which isn’t all it’s cracked up to be) and a lot of shotty interpretation of what net neutrality is and why we need it.

Basically, net neutrality is the principle that Internet Service Providers, like Comcast and Time Warner, are not allowed to differentiate between types of Internet data even though it’s delivered via wires and tubes that they own. This means subscribers get the “whole” Internet, without discrimination based on format or content. Doing this prevents ISPs from charging more for certain sites, blocking sites of their choice, or throttling traffic speeds based on content, pay, or the amount of data used.

It isn’t what’s espoused by some of my colleagues, that “local Internet Service Providers (ISPs) like Time Warner Cable must treat [one’s] illicit video with just as much urgency as [another’s] life-saving medical data.”

It’s also about a lot more than protecting music and software pirates from legal action. The term may be new to a lot of people, but net neutrality itself isn’t a new idea. It’s a new name that’s been tacked on to describe something that’s been the norm since the dawn of the Internet until pretty recently; one that stands at the core of the Internet as the cultural driving force it has become.

Why we need an open Internet

In the early days of the Internet, it wasn’t so much an issue because the technology that allows “deep-packet inspections” – intercepting and analyzing data on that large a scale – just didn’t really exist yet. Besides, there wasn’t enough on the Internet to be worth regulating.

So all of the content that was put on the Internet was free, and open for anyone to access. All you needed was a phone line and an ISP subscription, and the entire Internet was at your disposal: a virtual wild west for information junkies.

And then there was porn. And porn meant money. Whether a good or bad thing, it drove the expansion of the Internet since the very beginning, and helped spur new advances in images and video on the Internet. Soon people were sending pictures and video to their friends, and more and more people were getting online. (Random cool fact: Even before it was possible to send images, people were sending text-generated ASCII porn to their friends. It goes that far back.)

Fast forward 15 years or so. Now we have Wikipedia, YouTube, Google, iTunes, Google Earth, and the entire peer-to-peer file-sharing universe, which with the help of others comprise the biggest library in all of human history. You can read a 2,000 word entry about the use of the umlaut in heavy metal on Wikipedia, watch old videos of Jack Kerouac on YouTube, and then download every book Mark Twain ever wrote and the entire Clash discography in as few mouse clicks to count on one hand. Am I the only one who thinks that, from a cultural standpoint, that’s pretty freaking cool?

The best part? So can anybody else with open access to the Internet. Regardless of nationality, social strata, race, religion, or any other divider, as long as one has access to an Internet terminal, they can experience just about any event they want, even if it happened ages ago and they’d previously only read about it in a dry history book.

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Public records law.

December 21st, 2010 by Lyzi Diamond

Our favorite anonymous professor over at UO Matters has a breakdown on proposed changes in public records legislation for the state of Oregon to be addressed in the new legislative session. The first provides some clarity on fees and deadlines for filling public records requests, and the second requires certain public bodies to digitally record their meetings and make those recordings available. Interestingly, the second also requires the Attorney General to create trainings for public employees on public meetings law. Our anonymous professor’s comments:

Delays and fees are a common strategy of UO Public Records Officer Liz Denecke, as they were for her predecessor Melinda Grier. The OUS board, meantime, has not prepared written minutes of its meetings since Dec, 2006. So I think both these laws will have an immediate and positive effect for transparency at UO.

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.

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.

Guns are bad? Really?

November 8th, 2010 by Rockne Andrew Roll

As my distinguished colleague Spencer Madison pointed out, sometimes guns hurt people. Because of this, Madison seems to think that guns are bad. He elaborates that the constitutionally enshrined right of this country’s people to own them is bad as well. He is confident that the recent events he discusses will not have significant influence, backing his point by deploying a brilliant non-sequitur: “because people are extremely forgiving of the liberties a bunch of entitled slave owners gave us.”

How this should be an argument against the constitutional right to own guns is beyond me.

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Springfield man protects neighborhood, hilarity ensues

November 7th, 2010 by Spencer Madison

A conscientious Springfield man, whilst trying to protect his neighborhood with his Second Amendment rights became somewhat somewhat less of a hero. when his AK-47 accidentally discharged and fired a shot into the bedroom of a nearby house, while a mother and children were there, no less.

If someone who is a “military veteran and a seasoned gun owner” can’t handle a little old ridiculously lethal, semi-automatic weapon, ordinary citizens like myself are in dire risk of losing our rights to keep a 50mm anti-aircraft gun underneath our pillows (For home defense, of course. You never know when a robber might try using a police helicopter!). While it’s probably for the best that no arrests were made, this incident is doomed to fly under the radar as yet another good example of our flawed Second Amendment. For each actual robber that is thwarted by some redneck brandishing the latest in killing technology, there are 50 guns that fire into houses with children in them (citation and research probably needed). Regardless, this case is sure to be forgotten by all but those directly involved in a few weeks because people are extremely forgiving of the liberties a bunch of entitled slave owners gave us.

Silly of the moment.

November 3rd, 2010 by Lyzi Diamond

In response to The Great American Smoke-In tomorrow (noon in the EMU Amphitheater), ASUO President Amélie Rousseau has organized a Smoke-Out. (Is she going to get us high? I don’t think so.) [Emphasis in original.]

Hi all,

A tobacco-free campus is a comin’! We are excited that this campus policy change will soon be announced.

The ASUO and the Clean Air Project are organizing a UO smoke-OUT, this Thursday 12-1 in the EMU amphitheater. The smoke-out is in response to the ‘Coalition of On Campus Smokers’ smoke-in event at the same time. We will meet at 11:45 am by the silver chair in the EMU to distribute signs and t-shirts. Even if you can’t come for the whole time, please come for a bit!

We will be participating in a discussion and passing out information about health effects of tobacco, reminding people that 75% of students believe that the right to breathe clean air should take precedence over the right to smoke.

We are also having a sign-making party at the ASUO office, Wednesday from 4-5 pm, where we will be creating some beautiful, positive messaging! If you are artsy/have neat handwriting, please come!

Best,

Amelie Rousseau
ASUO President
asuopres@uoregon.edu
EMU Suite 4

I’m not even going to go into precedence of rights. You guys are smarter than that.

Also, I like that it was us taking action that influenced the ASUO to take action. This is already a victory.

But the most interesting part of all this is Rousseau’s claim that they are going to be “participating in discussion.” FINALLY. The most fascinating part of this smoke-free campus business is that we are the only ones who are talking about it. The Executive has made no effort to engage students in the discussion, and it took an event put on by the Oregon Commentator and the Coalition of On-Campus Smokers (which is barely a real thing) to get them to do anything at all.

So many of the things Rousseau has done this year were shady in some way or another. Why won’t the ASUO be honest and open with the students who elected them? Is it so hard to have an open forum to talk about things? What are they hiding? What are their intentions?

Point being, I’m glad she’s going to have a discussion. It’ll be the first of her administration, and it’s long overdue.

If you’d like to engage in that discussion, please come tomorrow at noon to the EMU Amphitheater. I don’t care if you go to the smoke-out or the smoke-in. It doesn’t really matter. Just force the ASUO to have the conversation.

[Author’s note: To quote a friend, “That’s, like, something Reese Witherspoon’s character would do in Election.”]

Great American Smoke-In Thursday

November 1st, 2010 by Lyzi Diamond

The Oregon Commentator and the Coalition of On-Campus Smokers (COCS) proudly present:

The Great American Smoke-In
Celebrating freedom in all aspects of our lives.

Thursday, November 4th
12:00pm-1:00pm
EMU Amphitheater

We will be smoking in the EMU Amphitheater (cigarettes, cigars, hookah, etc.) for about a half-hour, then walking around and picking up cigarette butts and other tobacco trash. Lord knows they’re going to need us after taking out the smoking stations around the EMU. Gloves and trash bags provided. And I should have extra cigarettes to share.

The point here is that smokers are responsible students at the University of Oregon. We clean up after ourselves. We are leaders in the community. We work here. We live here. And we’re going to live our lives the way we want to.

(If you plan on attending, please click both links above!)

Thoughts on Smoke Free Campus

October 27th, 2010 by Lyzi Diamond

First of all, some corrections and clarifications:

The $800,000 grant that was received from PacificSource was actually received by Paula Staight, the Health Promotion Director at the UO Health Center, and is to be spent over five years. The grant will allow the Health Center to hire one full-time and two part-time employees to work on three aspects of a healthy lifestyle: Food, Movement, and Tobacco (specifically the eradication of). There will be no campus-wide policy attached to the smoking ban (see: you can’t get fined or face disciplinary action for smoking on campus).

General concerns:

Likely because there is not going to be any sort of sweeping campus policy change and there will be no additional costs to students, there seemed to be very little general student involvement this year regarding this policy. (This is also a trend in the Rousseau administration.) In the past, the Smoke Free Task Force has held open forums where students / faculty / staff can voice their concerns, but as is the case with most open forums, when there is no direct policy being critiqued, they draw little audience. It is also important to remember that a large number of people who use this campus are not students. As someone who frequents campus late at night (KWVA, DDS, library, etc.), I’ve noticed that a large portion of the custodial staff are in fact smokers. Granted, this shift will not likely affect them as there is no policy attached to it, but it is important to think about.

The Smoke Free Task Force Report [click for PDF] does provide a number of reasons for instigating a smoke-free campus, but it is important to remember that virtually all data regarding second-hand smoke refers to indoor concentration. I have yet to see any data on cigarette smoke in the ambient air. I’m tempted to refer to automobile exhaust — do people really think that all those carcinogens really stay in the ambient air forever? I’m not referring to atmospheric concerns — those are kind of irrelevant when talking about campus smokers. Someone, please, show me some data.

By moving smokers to the edge of campus, aren’t we going to create a wall of smoke that every student will have to walk through to get to campus? Doesn’t that also create a safety issue? And what about students who live on campus? If you get a craving at 2AM, and you have to walk out of your home (dorm) to smoke, out of DPS jurisdiction over onto Franklin or in the East Campus Neighborhood, how will that affect the student and those who live in that area? If anyone thinks people are going to change their behavior because of a sign and a few dirty looks, they are mistaken. Perhaps in a few years, when there is no institutional memory left, things will be different. For now, kids will be kids, and forcing them to change their lifestyle to something you perceive to be better is kind of overstepping your bounds (I’m talking about all parties involved, here).

A not-smoking-related concern: there is $800,000 going to a movement that has no teeth? Does that seem like a waste of money to anyone else?

Moving on:

This policy will have no affect on smokers on campus as of this date. If kids want to smoke, they will smoke. If someone gives me a dirty look while I’m smoking, I will offer them a cigarette. I do like that student smokers will not be fined for smoking on campus. The biggest concern I had before was that smokers would be treated as second-class students. This new policy still contains that attitude, but in a less official way.

I’m not trying to say that smoking isn’t bad for us — it is. But if I want to go base jumping, or operate a baler, or ride a motorcycle, that is my choice. Do those choices affect other people? Sometimes, yes. But until you have definitive proof that me smoking a cigarette in the ambient air poses a serious health risk to students — or that students can’t walk ten feet away from me — then perhaps the UO Health Center and the ASUO should stay the hell off of my rights — and my lungs.

Extra Credit: http://insideoregon.uoregon.edu/hot-topics-blog-smoking-on-campus/

Smoke Free Campus — happening.

October 20th, 2010 by Lyzi Diamond

At tonight’s ASUO Senate meeting, President Rousseau announced that the ASUO is moving forward with a smoke-free campus policy. The Executive received an $800,000 grant to be spent over a number of years from PacificSource Health Plans as part of their Healthy Campus Initiative. The plan would be implemented over two years, starting with a “Great American Smoke Out” in November. The money from PacificSource will go to the hiring of three staff members, one full time and one part time, to deal with creating a healthy campus. Rousseau stated that a Tobacco Free Campus would be the primary issue those people will work on, specifically a promotion and education plan. Rousseau mentioned adding signage promoting a smoke-free campus and taking down the smoking stations, but there would be no enforcement of the policy other than peer pressure and a culture change. The idea is to educate new students that UO is a tobacco-free campus, so that is their expectation when they become students. Rousseau also mentioned that Oregon State University is implementing a policy in January, and she would love to do it first.

Other campuses in the country do this, including Arkansas and Kentucky. Should Oregon be added to that list? Comment it up, kids, I want to know what you think. Then I’ll tell you what I think (although I think you already know).

P.S. Smoke-in next week. More details with the next post.

Ding dong, the witch is dead . . .

September 20th, 2010 by Lyzi Diamond

The Ol’ Dirty’s Back to the Books issue is on stands today, and new campus and federal politics reporter Franklin Bains has stretched his legs with not one, not two, but three boring articles about the ASUO intended to introduce coverage of the topic. I’m going to summarize each article quickly:

1. Rousseau has big plans for first few weeks of fall term: ASUO President Amélie Rousseau wants to do more legislative work (see: get a job with the Oregon Student Association or United States Student Association after graduating). She’s going to try and go talk to Greeks, because she wants “to do a better job of reaching out to students who don’t usually get heard.” The ASUO is registering voters, like every year. Amélie appointed her boyfriend, Robert D’Andrea, to the highly controversial Political Director position that she created just for him, but he has since resigned, “saying that his presence detracted from the ASUO’s ability to deal with important issues.” [More on this later in the post.] She moved money designated for the 2009-10 budget for use in the 2010-11 budget, which no other student program has been allowed to do, ever. AND, finally, she is “attempting to implement a smoke-free campus to protect students and staff from the adverse effects of secondhand smoke.”

“It’s the right thing to do,” Rousseau said.

First of all, great justification, Amélie. Seriously, top notch.

The Oregon Commentator has long held the opinion that a smoke-free campus is an absurd and draconian response to the issues created by students being able to exercise their rights on campus. The City of Eugene and the state of Oregon both have laws surrounding smoking near doorways and places of business — sometimes individuals must smoke ten feet from the door, sometimes 25 feet — that are as of this point not enforced by the Department of Public Safety on this campus. To create a smoke-free campus at this point would be putting the cart before the horse and simply an attempt by President Rousseau to say that she actually did something while holding the position. There are other problems associated with a smoke-free campus, including student safety and, y’know, policing adults consuming tobacco products in the ambient air.

The Oregon Commentator and the Coalition of On-Campus Smokers regularly organize smoke-ins in the EMU Amphitheater. Look forward to announcements of a fall term smoke-in around week two or three.

2. Who’s who at the ASUO: Descriptions of ASUO President Amélie Rousseau, ASUO Vice President Maneesh Arora, Summer Senate Chair Kaitlyn Lange, ASUO Legislative Affairs Coordinator Sara Marcotte-Levy, and Former ASUO Political Director Robert D’Andrea. From that section:

After Rousseau created this executive post in May, she announced this month that Robert D’Andrea would be stepping down from his position. D’Andrea said his involvement detracted from the ASUO’s focus on campus issues because of the controversy surrounding his appointment. D’Andrea’s appointment drew some criticism from the ASUO Senate for appointing her boyfriend because of how it might affect the running of the ASUO. Rousseau insisted that D’Andrea’s appointment to the post was based on the years of experience he had at the Emerald as an ASUO reporter, news editor and opinion editor. D’Andrea worked as a campaign manager for Rousseau and Arora in the 2010 ASUO election. As political director, he would have assumed some of the strategic functions similar to the chief of staff, while also directing other members of staff in media communication . Nevertheless, he will still be involved with campus groups.

What this article neglects to mention is the fact that since becoming ASUO Political Director, Robert has assumed the position of chair of the Working Class Caucus in the United States Student Association. For those playing along at home, many a former ASUO politico has gone on to get a position in the Oregon Student Association, United States Student Association, Fund for Public Interest, or other similar political organizations that seek to fund themselves from student money and support. In fact, some say it has a hand in who gets elected each spring. Robert is no different, and assuming he is still a student come fall term, I’m sure we’ll see him continuing on in this position.

3. ASUO’s importance exists in representation of students: An article outlining the structure of the ASUO, its various finance committees, and who technically has power over whom.

The one comment on that article, by “Thom,” states:

This article explains the ASUO’s functions, but falls flat on explaining the importance of such functions to the everyday student. The ASUO is a disconnected group of children playing esoteric games with other people’s money.

Thank you, Thom. I couldn’t agree more.

LCC Goes Smoke-Free

May 24th, 2010 by Lyzi Diamond

Lane Community College has chosen to ban smoking on their main campus, save for four designated smoking stations on the perimeter. The University of Oregon has also been exploring a tobacco-free campus, but have not yet come to a decision on whether, when and how to implement. According to surveys on the LCC campus, the smoking ban has had overwhelming support, but there are some students that are still frustrated with the decision. From the Register-Guard:

Jessica Rainbow, a business major, said the college initially argued that the ban was needed to prevent litter and only changed to a health argument later. She said the move will be hard on students who smoke because they’re already under enough pressure with schoolwork and rising tuition costs.

“There’s just so much stress,” Rainbow said, adding that smoking breaks during her pre-calculus class help her relax and concentrate. “Now I just have to hold it in and hope I don’t freak out on someone.”

“We felt like there was really the need for some accommodation of limited, designated smoking spots on the perimeter,” [Kate Barry, vice president for academic and student affairs at LCC] said. “But that would still mean the people in the core campus were not coming into contact with secondhand smoke.”

Even so, smokers used terms such as “discrimination” and “segregation” in their reactions to the change. They also worry about safety because of all the traffic in the parking lots, and say the smoking areas will be too distant for students who only have a short break between classes.

A survey conducted last year at the University of Oregon by the Smoke-Free Task Force also showed that a large majority of students were in support of mitigating smoking on campus, but the support was focused more towards designated smoking areas rather than a total smoke-free campus. You can find the Smoke-Free Task Force’s report to UO Vice President of Finance and Administration Francis Dyke here.

As the situation stands right now, the logistical questions are too great to really implement any change at the UO. I am of the personal belief that the first step should be to enforce the rules that exist currently — most specifically, City of Eugene ordinance states that there shall be no smoking within 25 feet of an entrance to a public building, and that is most definitely not enforced at the UO.

Incidentally, CJ Ciaramella and I started a student group called the Coalition of On-Campus Smokers (COCS), a group of individuals who are concerned about a smoke-free campus and are looking to implement more practical solutions to the litter problem that on-campus smoking creates. We will be having our third smoke-in and cigarette cleanup on Thursday, May 27 at 1pm in the EMU Amphitheater to protest the decision on the LCC campus. Bring things to smoke — cigars, hookah, cigarettes, pipes, whatever you feel. Let your voice be heard, even if it’s scratchy.