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The Oregon University System and the Second Amendment

June 1st, 2011 by Lyzi Diamond

Today’s Ol’ Dirty has a letter to the editor tackling an issue that has been oddly absent on this blog as of late: concealed carry on campus. In a letter titled, “Students should have wider gun liberties,” undergraduate student Andrew Saldana attacks the Oregon University System’s illegal policy on firearms on campus while outlining the importance of students and faculty being able to protect themselves.

People should be able to be in charge of their own protection. If an individual wants to take precautions to protect themselves, they should be able to do so as long as it is in accordance with the law. Nobody else is obligated to come to your aid if you’re in crisis — not even the police, thanks to a Supreme Court ruling stating that the police are in place to protect “society at large” not any one individual(s). Even if it weren’t the case, as demonstrated above, the response time of police is too slow to prevent people from dying.

The current policy restricts those who wish to protect themselves from doing so in an effort to stop those who do not follow the law already. Gun-free zones are indeed only gun-free because good-natured people who wish to obey the rules abide by them. Many, if not most, mass shootings take place on areas deemed “gun-free.” In reality, all gun-free zones accomplish is the disarming of those who do good and leave them at the mercy of those who wish to do harm. I implore you to view the testimony of former Texas Rep. Suzanna Hupp in relation to the effects that policy and legislation restricting carry can have.

The reality of the state of concealed carry on Oregon university campuses is that it is legal, according to state law (See ORS 166.370). It is only the Oregon University System that doesn’t allow concealed carry on campus — that is to say, you will get suspended, expelled or face other disciplinary action if you are licensed to carry a concealed handgun and do so on campus.

Oregon Commentator editor emeritus CJ Ciaramella wrote a blog post for The Weekly Standard on May 5, 2010 regarding this topic, and conducted interviews with representatives from the Campaign to Keep Guns Off Campus and the Oregon Firearms Federation. Which team is ahead?

Currently, 26 states ban handguns on campus, even by those with concealed carry permits. Twenty three other states leave the decision to individual colleges. Only Utah explicitly prohibits public colleges from banning licensed handguns on campus.

Pro-concealed carry individuals and groups, like Saldana above and representatives from the Oregon Firearms Federation, argue that allowing individuals to carry on campus adds another level of protection for students, allowing them to defend themselves with more rapidity and agility. Those against concealed carry on campus argue that campuses are already relatively safe, and introducing guns on campus will serve to create more dangerous environments.

But let’s not forget the reason that Saldana wrote the letter in the first place. On May 26, the Emerald printed a story called, “University, law enforcement prepare for campus shooting scenario.” The story focuses around what DPS, the Eugene Police Department and SWAT can do in case of an on-campus shooting. As our favorite anonymous professor points out, the story serves to prop up the mission of the Department of Public Safety, which is to get more money to create an on-campus police force (maybe he and we are both too cynical, but whatever).

The SWAT team will be activated in such a scenario, but SWAT officers might not necessarily be on duty at the time and may have to travel from their homes to the police department to gather their equipment before heading to the scene of an incident. Klinko said this process could take up to 40 minutes, depending on where an officer lives.

Eugene has no full-time SWAT officers; the team members have regular duty assignments in addition to their SWAT duties. Additionally, there are not enough vehicles to allow SWAT officers to take their cars and equipment home with them. Despite the department’s efforts, financial constraints prevent the department from being as prepared as it would like to be.

This predicament was expressed to the Oregon House Judiciary Committee by EPD Chief Pete Kerns during testimony earlier this month.

This is where Saldana’s point peaks: in order for Eugene to accurately prepare for an on-campus shooting, a significant amount of money and time would need to be poured into the creation of an on-campus SWAT team. Students would still need to rely on the Department of Public Safety and the Eugene Police Department for their protection. That’s the ultimate disconnect between pro- and anti-concealed carry on campus: those who favor concealed carry on campus believe students should be able to defend themselves, while those who are opposed feel that students and those with concealed carry licenses are somehow not equipped to handle the magnitude of that task.

This files well into the next common argument, which is the blunt, flat, “guns are dangerous” slogan that is heard over and over from anti-gun advocates. In order to receive a concealed carry license in this state, it requires not only a class and a test, but also a willingness to follow the law in order to carry a weapon. It’s not the individuals who have gone through the process of receiving a concealed carry license that universities need to worry about — it’s those who don’t have the training, those who come onto campus with malicious intent, those who got their guns illegally, or who don’t have the training or credentials to carry their weapons on their person. The responsible individuals who sought out their concealed carry license are by definition equipped to handle the magnitude of their own safety. That’s the point.

Finally, these are our rights. These rights, just like all other rights we are legally entitled to, are granted to us from the United States Constitution. These individuals already have the right, through the same process, to carry their weapons almost anywhere else in the state. University campuses should be no different. Ciaramella hits the nail on the head here:

Indeed, if students’ First Amendment right to free expression does not end at the school gates, as the Supreme Court ruled in Tinker v. Des Moines, why should they be denied their Second Amendment right to self-defense?

As more and more policies are put into place to create a campus bubble, an ivory tower where only certain ideas and practices are allowed (smoking ban, Pacifica Forum, the Bias Response Team), the future for concealed carry on campus seems fairly grim. Students and administrators need to realize that universities are supposed to prepare students for the so-called “real world,” where people smoke cigarettes, say things not everyone agrees with and, yes, carry concealed weapons. It’s time for us to wake up and realize that we shouldn’t be sheltered from the realities of the world outside the gates of our university. It’s time for us to demand that we be able to exercise our rights.

It’s time to stand up.

eduHookups Sold

May 29th, 2011 by Melissa Haskin

Earlier this year eduHookups.com went viral. What started as a casual sex site for UChicago students turned into a dating/sex site for many universities across the nation.

The website had just barely made its way from the Ivies to the University of Oregon before it was sold.  And for how much? $1,000. Seems a bit odd considering how many users were on the site.  According to this website which may or may not be very trust-able, eduHookups was facing security problems.

A look at their twitter confirmed not only that eduHookups was sold on eBay but that the original site, www.UChicagoHookups.com, is now for sale as well.

Now the website redirects to http://www.ratemylasthookup.com where you can describe your last hookup in terms of bases, like you’re in second grade again! How exciting! You can even list their initials!

The Commentator deeply regrets the loss of eduHookups and in memorial (and on Memorial day) will be launching our own casual sex website  www.oregoncommentator.com/ran_out_of_girls_at_the_district: A Sudsy Site for Casual Friends.

The Oregon Commentator, an independent journal of seduction/fornication etc.

*Nicholas Ekblad contributed to the reporting of this article.

Live-blogging the Constitutional Convention? Oh, hell yes.

May 26th, 2011 by Lyzi Diamond

In a time where young people learn about history through video games and summer blockbusters and blogs are more highly read than books, a significant challenge is presented, not only to teachers who are trying to move students through the education system, but also to parents, politicians and those trying to educate and inform the the next group of young Americans about, among other things, the history of our great nation. In a culture so fragmented and disengaged, it is necessary to change the way we look at education in all forms, but it is arguably most important that young Americans know why there here, what that means, and how it all came to be.

It is likely with this in mind that the Bill of Rights Institute, an nonprofit based out of Arlington, VA that charges itself with educating young people about the United States Constitution, has started a new project: live-blogging the 1787 Philidelphia Convention.

This summer, the Bill of Rights Institute will be blogging the Philadelphia Convention of 1787.

Beginning … May 25 – the date when enough delegates had arrived to give the Convention a quorum – the Bill of Rights Institute’s ”A More Perfect Blog” will give weekly accounts of the key actions and conversations of the Convention.

The project is already underway, starting yesterday with the election of convention leadership, convention rules and the Virginia Plan. You can read the blog here. And please, tell as many young people as possible. It’s oging to be an amazing summer, made only greater by young Americans being informed about their history and the rights and freedoms they are granted because of it.

(Hat tip to Adam Kissel over at FIRE for pointing us to this cool project.)

On Liberal Pathways to Prosperity with a Rehash of the Same Information Every Two Pages

May 26th, 2011 by Melissa Haskin

A study recently released by the Harvard Graduate School of Education seeks to solve the growing disconnect between the job market and academia by focusing on job training and education.

With barely half of the students enrolled in four-year colleges completing their bachelors degrees in six years and even less completing an associates degrees in three years, it is evident that college-prep should not be the only focus of High School. Indeed, many students drop out because the relationship between their courses and possible jobs is blurred.

This is not only a problem in High School, but college as well. With the variety of courses required for graduation being confusing at best and alluring course offerings like Zombies in Popular Media, Philosophy and Star Trek, and Lady Gaga and the Sociology of Fame, one can easily be distracted from reality. Moreover, the connection between education and career can be befuddling— what can you do with a history or Latin degree? What kind of job can you get a bachelor’s degree in economics?

What’s more, while Community Colleges face lower funding, they often produce graduates that earn more than those who earn a degree from a four-year university. “Pathways to Prosperity”, the study recently published by the Harvard Graduate School of Education reports, “27 percent of people with post-secondary licenses or certificates—credentials short of an associate’s degree—earn more than the average bachelor’s degree recipient.”

Professor Vedder of the Ohio State economics department made similar comments in his October article “Why Did 17 Million Students Go to College?stating ” the growing disconnect between labor market realities and the propaganda of higher-education apologists is causing more and more people to graduate and take menial jobs or no job at all” noting that more than 317,000 waitresses have college degrees.

(more…)

Christian preacher stirs up controversy in the EMU Amphitheater

May 24th, 2011 by C.W. Keating

“I have become a preaching machine!”

Thumping a well-worn blue Bible, Jed Smock – or Brother Jed, as he likes to be called – is one of the new faces generating controversy around the EMU Amphitheater for his confrontational preaching method. Sporting a bowtie, a sweater vest and a blue blazer, Brother Jed addresses individuals in the amphitheater audience and calls out to “wicked” and “promiscuous” students about how to “change their ways and follow Christ.”

A self-admitted “former hippie” who “found Jesus on a hippie commune in Africa,” Brother Jed is usually met with disdain, mockery and impassioned debate from students, groups such as the Alliance of Happy Atheists and random people walking by the amphitheater.

I had a chance to sit down with Brother Jed and talk about his presence on the University of Oregon.

Oregon Commentator: Why did you decide to preach in the University of Oregon amphitheater?
Brother Jed: I mean, you’re not going to get college students to get up and go to church early in the morning. So we need to go to them.
OC: Would you say you’ve made an impact [on campus]?
BJ: Oh, yes. I was just talking to someone who recently started reading the Bible. I get letters on my website, brotherjed.org, letters I’ve received from student over the years. They go something like this: “Dear Brother Jed, Your preaching made me so mad that I started reading the Bible to prove you wrong.” And then they find the faith!
OC: So is provoking people the main way you get your message across? It seems very in-your-face, very uncomfortable.
BJ: Yes, you need to engage the audience. I call it confrontational evangelism. The radical left [in the 1960s] talked of “confrontational politics,” really challenging the establishment. Whether you agree with their position or not, it worked… So yes, I want to stir up controversy and dialogue and debate… all college students are thinking about is mundane. They’re not asking “What is our moral foundation?” They aren’t the true questions, the right questions. They’re just focused on “Oh, I’ve got a test today” and “I hope I get laid tonight.” You’re distracted from God.
OC: Let’s talk a bit about how you became a Christian. You mentioned that you lived on a hippie commune in Africa…?
BJ: Yes, I did. One day a man who was dressed in Arabic attires – you know, a turban, a robe, all that – came preaching Jesus to us on Christmas Day, 1971. And we all laughed at him! But as a historian I had to admit that the Bible has great literary qualities. I mean, I was the son of an English professor and some of the greatest works of literature have been inspired by the Bible. So I thought I should read it for academic and spiritual purposes. I was going to study under the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in India but I thought “Why don’t I study my religion instead?”
OC: So Judaism, Islam and Christianity all recognize Jesus as a prophet.
BJ: Well, the Jews don’t.
OC: Right. But still, all three religions come from the tree of Abraham. Would you say there’s kinship between Jews, Muslims and Christians?
BJ: Islam denies that Jesus died on the cross. The Qur’an says that “God had no son”… so really Islam is an attack on Christianity. They deny Jesus’ sacrifice. We’re different. No, we believe in the Trinity. We believe Jesus is God!
OC: Has being in academia informed how you preach?
BJ: Yes. I remember reading the Bible and wanting to tell the good news to people! But there’s only so much you can do inside a building, so I decided to go outside.
OC: Would you say you appeal to reason in your preaching?
BJ: It’s about preaching but it’s also about teaching. It’s an appeal to man’s conscience, recognizing this party lifestyle and trying to get them thinking about their life. Most students aren’t thinkers, they’re feelers. So I appeal to that emotion.
OC: Let’s talk about Satan. Do you believe in Satan, that there is an evil force out there?
BJ: I do believe in a fallen angel, Lucifer does mean “bringer of light.” He was perfect in all of his. But they found sin in him. So he rally one third of the angels to rebel against God. Now that took a long time, that’s not an overnight thing… I do believe Lucifer became frustrated with God because God governs the universe not by sheer force but by love. And love puts restraints on us all. It’s like our soldiers over in Afghanistan… if we didn’t have this Christian morality, we’d just wipe ‘em all out, get it over with, y’know? [Laughs] But God is about love, so we can’t do that. God is gonna demonstrate that love always wins. The Devil has all this experience in the realms of hate and power, but what looks stronger than Jesus hanging on the cross? Love defeated hate on the cross. Love will defeat evil.
OC: Would you say the devil is on college campuses? How do you reason that?
BJ: I do believe in demonic possession. I don’t think any students are possessed, but the Devil does influence us with temptations.
OC: What kind of temptations?
BJ: The drugs, the alcohol and the sex before marriage… they all make us morally weak. Drugs and alcohol puts our conscience to sleep. And the music! They’re listening to this decadent rock music, or hip-hop and this music is seductive!
OC: Thank you for your time, Brother Jed.

A story on the controversy surrounding Brother Jed will be available in the forthcoming Commentator.

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.

Oregon Legislature ponders how to make high school even worse

April 27th, 2011 by Ben Maras

Apparently just learning how to show up on time and do what you’re told isn’t good enough anymore. The front page of today’s Ol’ Dirty featured a story about Oregon House Bill 2732, which would withhold a graduating high school senior’s diploma until they “showed proof of application to college, the U.S. armed forces or into an apprenticeship program.” Sound like complete bullshit? Apparently not enough bullshit for the majority of the Oregon House of Representatives.

The vote was split 33-26. Two thirds of the House Democrats voted for it, and while the Republicans weren’t so keen on it (only one third voted for it).

So in addition to forcing young adults kids to enlist in the military or take on tens of thousands of dollars of debt in hopes of a brighter job market by the time you’ve hit legal drinking age, it will also create a new breed of dropout for students who don’t want to do either, or don’t know yet. That’ll be great for the already-shaky state of the Oregon educational system. But Rep. Tobias Read (D-Beaverton) sees it another way:

“This bill does not intend to tell anyone what the right choice is for them. It merely seeks to prompt consideration of that question,” Read said on the House floor. “Think about the student who intends to work in the family business. Wouldn’t he likely benefit from some accounting or bookkeeping classes at the community college.”

Yes, yes he (or she) would. But does he really think that there’s anyone on the face of the earth who’s thought about that more that the student has? After all, they’ve had a long time to think about it, and by that time probably had to answer to the incessant “So what are you going to do next?” from the family about 470 times. Maybe he knew exactly what he wanted to do at 18, and never spent most of his twenties wondering if what he was doing was really what he should be, (unless everyone else feels that way, too; if so, ignore that last sentence).

Next it moves on to the Democrat-controlled Oregon Senate (60% Democrats / 40% Republicans), where it will likely fester for some time before being passed along party lines and then blocked by the courts.

CR’s at OSU doin’ it Right

April 7th, 2011 by Melissa Haskin

Picture from the Second Amendment Week facebook event page

What’cha doin’ next week? Well, if you want to head over to OSU you may have a chance to win a gun!

Yep, you read that right. This coming Monday, April 11th through Friday April 15th the Oregon State University College Republicans will be holding their annual Second Amendment Week.

As part of the festivities they will be raffling off an AR-15 rifle. Unfortunately, while you need not be present to win the drawing, you must purchase the tickets in person. Tickets can be picked up from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday in the MU quad. The drawing is set to be around 6 p.m. on Friday.

Other Second Amendment Week Events include a free gun safety course and Lars Larson broadcasting from the quad (in the words of their facebook group):

Free gun safety course for students on Wednesday at 7PM in Gilfillan Auditorium. Along with being very useful information, this course also meets state requirements to obtain a Concealed Handgun License (CHL).

Lars Larson will be broadcasting from the MU Quad on Friday between noon and 6PM.

CHEERS!

Oregon news round-up

March 19th, 2011 by Ben Maras

Too lazy / perpetually hung over to keep up with what’s going on in our wonderful state over spring break? Let the OC do it for you. Here’s the first installment of news briefs from around the state (that we haven’t covered already).

UO News

– GQ magazine named fans of the Oregon ducks basketball team as being some of the worst in the nation, citing “numerous violations of the ‘Code of ConDUCKt.'” The Ducks came in at number 14, ranked as just slightly more annoying than fans of the LA Lakers.

“With a firm dedication to taking taunts too far, the Oregon Duck faithful have a storied history of degeneracy that can be traced all the way back to the days when someone beaned legendary coach John Wooden with a half-eaten apple.”

Storied history of degeneracy, or promoting healthy dietary choices for our most esteemed visiting members? You decide.

– A group of UO students alerted local media and stormed the beaches of the Jaqua Center yesterday, asserting their right as UO students to use lavish but otherwise unexciting services reserved for student athletes. The end.

– The Oregon Ducks football team has been chosen as grand marshal of the 2011 Spirit Mountain Casino Grand Floral Parade. Organizers cited “has brought unprecedented pride, spirit, and enthusiasm to the state of Oregon and the Northwest.”
(more…)

Stanford Athletic Academic Resource Center distributed list of easy courses to athletes

March 11th, 2011 by Lyzi Diamond

The Stanford Daily reports that student athletes at the university received a list of easy classes, unavailable to the rest of the student population.

Classes on the list include “Analysis of Human Movement,” “Social Dances of North America III,” “Sleep and Dreams,” “Financial Literacy,” and “Acting for Non-Majors.”

Titled “courses of interest,” the list was distributed by the Athletic Academic Resource Center. Advisers in other departments at the University said they were unaware such a list existed.

Stanford has long mandated equal scholastic footing among all undergraduates, including athletes. Many of its student athletes, in fact, have distinguished themselves in the classroom, notably football stars Andrew Luck, who has a 3.5 GPA, and Owen Marecic, who plans to graduate this year with a degree in human biology. The university’s hard-line approach has rankled some coaches over the years who have watched talented recruits go elsewhere because they didn’t measure up to Stanford’s academic standards.

But some faculty and students say the list may have offered an academic advantage for the athletes who requested it — especially since the general population was unaware it was even available. The Athletic Academic Resource Center didn’t advertise the list or post it on its website. But athletes have been known to ask for it.

That sort of thing doesn’t happen at the UO, right?

Of course not.

Extra credit: Editor of the Stanford Daily defends the article.

Art Robinson claims inconsistencies at OSU, says his children are being treated unfairly [UPDATED]

March 7th, 2011 by Lyzi Diamond


Source: WorldNetDaily

It seems Art Robinson is at it again.

The former congressional candidate for Oregon’s fourth district is accusing Oregon State University of attempting to remove his three children from its graduate program in Nuclear Engineering and Radiation Health Physics as a response to his candidacy in the previous election and his impending candidacy in 2012. He believes the appropriations awarded to OSU under DeFazio’s tenure are influencing the decisions of how to handle his children in the program.

According to Robinson, two of his children, Joshua and Bethany, are slated for removal from the Ph.D program, and a professor who is trying to help them has become the target of a defamation campaign:

Democrat activist David Hamby and militant feminist and chairman of the nuclear engineering department Kathryn Higley are expelling four-year Ph.D. student Joshua Robinson from OSU at the end of the current academic quarter and turning over the prompt neutron activation analysis facility Joshua built for his thesis work and all of his work in progress to Higley’s husband, Steven Reese. Reese, an instructor in the department, has stated that he will use these things for his own professional gain. Joshua’s apparatus, which he built and added to the OSU nuclear reactor with the guidance and ideas of his mentor, Michael Hartman, earned Joshua the award for best Masters of Nuclear Engineering thesis at OSU and has been widely complimented by scientists at prominent U.S. nuclear facilities.

Meanwhile, faculty member Todd Palmer notified four-year Ph.D. student Bethany Robinson (OSU grade point average 3.89) that he was terminating her thesis work and taking all of her work in progress for himself. Some of Bethany’s graduate work has already been used, without credit to Bethany, in the thesis of another favored student now recently hired on the department faculty. […]

My children and I attempted to counter all these actions against us as they unfolded, but were initially uncertain as to their ultimate intent. All became clear, however, when OSU faculty administrators abruptly took a further and very serious prejudicial action toward Joshua. At that point, OSU Professor of Nuclear Engineering Jack Higginbotham, who was privy to all of the meetings and actions, warned us and came to our defense. […]

Professor Higginbotham warned us that faculty administrators at OSU were working to make certain that Joshua, his sister Bethany and, if possible, his brother Matthew never receive Ph.D. degrees in nuclear engineering from OSU, regardless of their examination, academic and research performance. Professor Higginbotham then reviewed with us the details of the plan to destroy the education of these students and advised me to do anything I could to protect my children. […]

Now nearing success is a disgraceful effort to strip Professor Higginbotham of his faculty position and his research grants. His career now potentially in ruins, he is fighting back in hopes of saving himself and the positions of the students and staff who depend upon him at OSU and who may also lose their careers as collateral damage in these astonishing events.

In response to these claims, OSU has released a statement vaguely refuting Robinson’s claims, but because of the limitations with FERPA, the university is not legally allowed to disclose information on the grades or academic status of individual students. The release does, however, state that the information regarding individual professors mentioned in his editorial was “baseless and unfounded”:

Federal law prohibits institutions of higher education from discussing matters concerning our students with anyone other than the student himself or herself without the express consent of the student involved. Given that, OSU will not comment on any allegation regarding the Robinson students or share any personal information concerning them other than the limited “directory information” allowed by law to be shared.

Robinson’s material singles out several individual faculty members for criticism. The university has found no factual basis for the accusations made against those faculty members. OSU is proud of its education and research programs and faculty in Nuclear Engineering and Radiation Health Physics and of department alumni, many of whom hold leadership positions in government and private sector organizations.

OSU will not comment on other allegations made in the Robinson posts other than to say the claims made therein are baseless and without merit.

Whether or not Robinson’s claims are true remains to be seen, but it does bring up an interesting question about the relationship between administrators and students. Charles Martin at Pajamas Media points out this paragraph of Robinson’s diatribe in particular:

OSU administrators think they can violate ethical academic standards of professional conduct, break formal OSU rules and regulations, and even violate U.S. laws with impunity because, in any resulting litigation, they would be defended by lawyers from the Oregon Department of Justice, assuring that only students with huge sums of money and many years to invest in litigation can oppose them. The Robinsons do not have those huge sums of money, and, moreover, they want to complete their education – not receive money in exchange for the destruction of their education and opportunities.

With all this talk of restructuring, transparency, accountability and access to higher education in Oregon, it will be interesting to see how this manifests. As none of them have yet reported on the story, it seems the majority of Oregon media outlets are regarding Robinson’s claims as inane ramblings from a failed candidate trying to hang on to relevance. But if the claims prove to be true, it could mean a lot in regards to the state of Oregon’s higher education system.

Additionally, if any of our OSU readers know anything about the story, the professors or the Robinson kids, don’t hesitate to email: editor AT oregoncommentator DOT com.

Hat tip to Owen over at Pajamas Media for the tip.

UPDATE 10:22PM:

UO Matters points us to this website in support of Robinson’s claims, and says the news will be all over it tomorrow. I suppose we’ll see what the Oregon media can uncover.

Oh Bother

March 3rd, 2011 by Melissa Haskin

“On the other hand, if you’re a 3.9 student, why the hell would you apply some place that only requires a 3.4?

Question— (in the Spirit of Lariviere) Why the hell would a University President say something like that?

Yes, yes, this is part of a larger quote talking about the inadequacy of the automatic admissions policy (as covered below by Alex), but the statement in itself is astounding. Having a requirement of a 3.4 GPA does not signal that certain students don’t belong at a University. Besides, prospective students don’t just look at the GPA requirement they look at our culture, our sports and our highly ranked programs (like the Business School).

Perhaps we are not an Ivy League college, but that doesn’t mean that 3.9 students don’t belong here. Nor, does it mean that only 3.9 students belong at Ivy League schools.

As Lariviere noted elsewhere in his interview, the 3.4 GPA is NOT A REQUIREMENT, but rather an automatic acceptance for Oregon students. It says, “hey, y’all did OK in High School, so we’ll let you in.” Not “Unless you have higher than a 3.4, you must find another college to attend.” Moreover, if Penn, Cornell, Princeton& Dartmouth don’t have minimum GPA requirements, should 3.9 students write-off those colleges? If Columbia is looking for students with a GPA above 3.0 should 3.9 students write those off as well? Most definitely, out of state students with said GPA should not even bother to apply to Berkeley, for they only require a 3.4.

I appreciate that President Lariviere stepped outside of press-releases and scripted answers and had an honest conversation, but in questioning why 3.9 students would apply to the the University of Oregon, he is telling the very students he leads that the UO is just a consolation prize. He completed the statement by saying “So we’re just sending the wrong message to everybody.” Perhaps the automatic GPA needs to be cut, but having a GPA requirement or an automatic admission’s GPA cutoff doesn’t say anything about the competitiveness or worth of the University. 

Also, yes, I have a coffee date set with the President, and yes, I probably just threw away all chances of that happening but I am not going cease writing for the next two weeks, or skirt around important issues- I work for the Commentator, not the Pussy Daily.

And I Thought University Administrators Were Supposed To Be PR Professionals

February 18th, 2011 by Lyzi Diamond

On Wednesday February 16th, 2011, University President Richard Lariviere did an interview with Professor Laufer’s J483: Journalistic Interview class. The Commentator‘s very own Melissa Haskin was in attendance and, like a good reporter, asked him why he has refused to do an interview with the Oregon Commentator.

The conversation:

Melissa Haskin: How come you turned down a face to face interview with the Oregon Commentator?
Richard Lariviere: I don’t see that that’s going to be of any use to the university in any way.
MH: How so?
RL: Well, I make my decisions about how to spend my time on the basis, almost all my time, on the basis of whether or not it’s going to be contributing in some manner to the fundamental mission of the university and that can take a whole range of activities with a whole range of groups, but I have to be able to take the group seriously.
MH: And why do you not take the group seriously?
Mr. Eddy (another student): Why not the Commentator, why this particular publication?
RL: Because when they asked me, I went and looked at their previous issue.
Mr. Eddy: And?
RL: And it was sophomoric and an embarrassment.
MH: How was it an embarrassment when the majority of the articles where academic? For instance, there was a several page article on why we need net neutrality.  So, how is that sophomoric? Would you like to see it?
RL: You asked me why I didn’t do it, that’s why I didn’t do it.

The audio of the full interview can be downloaded here. The part above occurs around 27:20. (The conversation continues to some ridiculousness, as I will mention in a moment.)

The best part about Lariviere’s explanation of his interview refusal is that there was no warrant. He gave no specific reasons as to why the Commentator is not worth his time. The president of the University of Oregon told a group of students involved in an extracurricular activity that their time was not only worthless, but an embarrassment, and seemingly didn’t think it was important to explain why, or how, or to empower these students in any way.

One problem here is how the Unviersity president is treating student programs. Could you imagine if he were to call any other student group an embarrassment? The LGBTQA? The Women’s Center? I love Jennifer Busby, but she walks around in a giant vagina costume and sings a medley of pop songs on behalf of the ASUO Women’s Center. As compared to the Commentator, is that not sophomoric? (Editor’s note: For the record, in my opinion, neither the vagina costume nor the Commentator is an embarrassment. Just illustrating a point.) If Lariviere had made this sort of comment about almost any other student group, the whole campus would be up in arms.

There are ~24,000 students at the University of Oregon, and only around 1 percent of them are involved with student programs. What business does the University president have demonizing those who care about their collegiate experience enough to try at something, anything?

Additionally, Lariviere is refusing to communicate with a student publication, a very clear way to communicate with the greater student population. (Yes, believe it or not, people actually read the Oregon Commentator.) Later in the interview, when asked how he intended to communicate with students, Lariviere mentioned how he was impressed with the Oregon Daily Emerald, how Higher Education Reporter Stefan Verbano is doing a great job, and how he would be happy to speak with him.

When I talked to Stefan later that evening, he mentioned the fact that he had been trying to interview President Lariviere in person for about a month regarding the Riverfront Research Project, and had that day received this email from UO Media Relations Director Julie Brown:

Hi Stefan,

I checked with the president about talking with you for the Riverfront Research Park story. He’s unavailable and recommended that Rich Linton can provide the administration’s point of view on the project. Rich is traveling quite a bit and would prefer if you contact him by email. You can reach him directly at rlinton@uoregon.edu.

Let me know if you don’t hear back from him promptly and I will follow up on your behalf.

Thanks,
Julie

Just to point out, this is going from an in-person interview with the president of the university to an email Q & A with the Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies — a significant step down. Stefan came back to Ms. Brown to clarify that he still wished to speak with Lariviere in person, and asked if there was another time he would have time to talk to the Emerald (he also scheduled an interview to talk to VP for Finance and Administration Frances Dyke, just to explain the top part of the email). Brown’s response [emphasis mine]:

Hi Stefan,

I have you scheduled to interview Frances Dyke next Friday, Feb. 25 at 1 p.m. She has up to 30 minutes available in her office.

For the Riverfront Research Park story, the president isn’t available and doesn’t have additional information to provide. Because the RRP is within Rich Linton’s research portfolio, he is the most appropriate source for you from administration.

Thanks,

Julie

First of all, the administration should not be directing traffic for journalists. But the problem, here, is that if the president doesn’t talk to us, he is not accountable to us. President Lariviere’s constant reluctance to be accountable to the body that he was made representative of is nauseating and makes us consider what it is that he is hiding.

This is basically what I wrote to him in my interview request later that day, which I also sent to Senior Assistant to the President Dave Hubin and Vice President of Student Affairs Robin Holmes:

From: Lyzi Diamond
To: Richard Lariviere
CC: Dave Hubin , Robin Holmes
Date: Wed, Feb 16, 2011 at 5:10 PM
Subject: Oregon Commentator Interview Request

Dear President Lariviere,

I have just spoken with one of my staff writers, Melissa Haskin, about an interview you did with her journalism class this afternoon. She told me that when she asked about you declining an interview with the Oregon Commentator, you called our magazine a “sophomoric publication” that wasn’t worth your time.

As I wrote in my last letter to you, it is my opinion (and, I believe, your opinion) that every student in the University community benefits from being involved in extracurricular activities. I feel it was unprofessional of you to speak about a group of students who are involved in an extracurricular activity in such a flippant manner, especially when that activity has been continuously recognized and funded by the ASUO throughout its decades-long existence.

As I mentioned before, the Oregon Commentator exists to provide an alternative viewpoint to campus politics and discussion, and has done so for nigh on 28 years. Our blog has won multiple awards, and being involved in the magazine has provided amazing opportunities both for current students and OC alumni. To speak of an activity that is so important to so many students in such a negative manner is shocking, especially coming from a university president.

I would like to sit down with you and talk about the state of student affairs in the University of Oregon community. I am available at any time that is convenient for your schedule. We believe an interview with you is definitely worth our time, and that of our readers — and that talking with students should be worth your time, too.

Sincerely,

Lyzi Diamond
Editor-in-Chief, Oregon Commentator

As of 3:00pm on Friday, February 18th, I have heard no response from Hubin, Holmes or Lariviere. As I said in my email, his conduct was incredibly unprofessional, and to speak of a student group in such a manner is abhorrent. It’s outrageous. It should outrage you. Any university administrator that does not even put up the veil of trying to communicate with students is probably not a student administrator you can trust.

Editor’s note: Melissa Haskin will be posting a longer piece on the full range of answers Lariviere gave during his interview in a few days.

An open letter to President Lariviere

January 19th, 2011 by Lyzi Diamond

Dear President Lariviere,

I am writing to you on behalf of the Oregon Commentator, the twenty-eight year old student fee-funded journal of campus and local opinion. Throughout its existence, the Commentator has provided an alternative viewpoint on campus, providing news and editorial content that differs from other publications — student and otherwise — in the campus and Eugene communities.

The Oregon Commentator strives to be an educational organization, teaching interested students about journalistic writing and reporting regardless of degree program. Since becoming editor-in-chief of the Commentator, I have instituted a draft process for writers, allowing them the opportunity to turn in their pieces a week ahead of deadline in order to receive feedback from our managing editor, a master’s student in the magazine journalism program in the SOJC. Additionally, we have students who do work for us ranging from ad sales to art to operations management to layout to copy editing, providing the unique experience of working in every part of a news room.

The Oregon Commentator provides a relaxed environment where students can learn and work on longer-form reported pieces. While the Oregon Daily Emerald does an excellent job reporting campus news and opinions, students participating in that program are operating under much more stringent guidelines. With a news article due every day and a paper to produce every night, long-form opinion and reported pieces often end up going by the wayside in favor of more informative news briefs and condensed opinion columns.

Current students from the Oregon Commentator have had their work featured on the Student Free Press Association (a national news organization focused on independent campus journalism) and as such, have been linked to by such prestigious news organizations as the National Review, Fox News and The Atlantic. Indeed, a piece written by an OC staffer received the most traffic on the SFPA website in 2010. The Commentator is also a proud member of the Collegiate Network, an organization bringing together conservative student journalists from around the country. Alumni from our magazine have gone on to successful careers in journalism. 2006-07 editor-in-chief Ted Niedermeyer, is the editor-in-chief of a well-read automotive industry blog called The Truth About Cars, and 2007-08 editor-in-chief Philip Ossie Bladine is the editor-in-chief of an alternative weekly in Vancouver, WA called the Vancouver Voice.

I understand you have denied our request to conduct an interview with your office, citing our “lack of serious content” as a concern and worrying about appearing not suitably “presidential” within our pages. The issue in which your interview would have appeared, The Interview Issue, will include printed interviews with Dean of Students Paul Shang, Eugene Mayor Kitty Piercy, Oregon University System Vice-Chancellor Sona Andrews, University Health Center Gynecologist Colleen Jones, and various other notable members of the campus and Eugene communities. If you don’t feel that appearing next to these individuals in the magazine is presidentially suitable , I would appreciate a list of individuals we should be interviewing instead.

You know just as well as I do how integral student programs are to student success in university communities. Students who are engaged in extracurricular activities tend to do better both in school and beyond graduation insofar as grades, job prospects and career development. But students are busy. We take classes, we have personal lives and many of us have jobs in order to cover the rent (and consistently rising tuition). It is much more likely for a student to join an extracurricular activity that will assist in career development with such limited time, and we at the Commentator believe we provide that career development for aspiring journalists. As part of the OC, students receive access to internships and fellowships across the country (by virtue of our relationships with the Collegiate Network and the Student Free Press Association) that they would not have access to simply by being a student in the journalism school. While we as a student program are eligible for stipends, we choose not to receive them. Students work for the Oregon Commentator because they care about what we stand for and are interested in learning about what it means to work for a publication.

Your comment regarding our editorial content insulted a publication that is written, produced and read by many students. Students appreciate the Commentator because it provides alternative viewpoints to the pervading culture on campus, and we feel those alternative viewpoints should be respected and given space to exist. Based on our (almost) consistent funding from the ASUO, student government representatives agree.

At this point, you have returned to us with a counter-offer: we send you questions ahead of time, and you(r public relations staff) answer(s) them for us. This is not a legitimate counter-offer (ask anyone in the SOJC about this and they will agree); if we wanted to read a press release, we would read a press release. Mr. President: when you entered your office a year and a half ago, you stated that transparency was going to be a priority for your administration. What could be more transparent than sitting down with the students you are charged with serving to answer our questions?

We are forced to wonder whether your reluctance to be interviewed has more to do with a desire not to be questioned by the very people whose futures you hold in your hands than with the editorial content of our magazine. Since you came into office, we at the Commentator are not the only ones who have been impressed with your forthrightness and honesty. It is my opinion that if you continue to refuse our interview requests we will likewise not be the only ones whose faith in that honesty is diminished.

Sincerely,

Lyzi Diamond
Editor-in-Chief
Oregon Commentator

The more things change . . .

January 16th, 2011 by Lyzi Diamond

The smart, wonderful, capable kids over at the Desert Lamp (University of Arizona) are reporting on Gov. Jan Brewer’s proposed 20 percent cuts to higher education:

It’s clear that pressure to increase tuition will be high this semester. Pressure to increase fees, which are easier, sneakier, and murkier, will be even higher. Adding extra variables to the tuition tussle in the form of incidental fees makes it much harder to come up with a clear and coherent proposal, and multiplies the number of options available to propose. That taxes the time of student leaders and ends up requiring, in effect, a separate proposal for each fee, plus tuition. Suddenly, a little referendum doesn’t look so bad after all.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.