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More Like EMU ReferenDUMB, Am I Right?

December 21st, 2012 by Ben Schorr

It’s 10pm on a Friday night, which might be our last night alive, but here we are again discussing the debacle that is the EMU Referendum .

Student and USSA member Lucero Castaneda (the n having one of those squigglys above it that WordPress is reluctant to allow) has filed a grievance against ASUO president Laura Hinman, claiming a biased approach to the EMU referendum. For those of you who haven’t followed the sketchiness, this post from before the EMU referendum vote and this post from after can help catch you up.

The rule Castaneda accuses Hinman of violating is as follows:

The ASUO Elections shall be conducted in a manner consistent with the best interests of the student body. The elections shall be conducted in a fair, orderly and impartial manner, and the educational atmosphere of the University shall not be compromised, by any member of the ASUO involved in the electoral process.

Castaneda wrote; “The EMU Renovation Task Force…engaged in a heavy-handed pro-yes campaign on the EMU referendum. This is clearly indicated in the memo between the Task Force and the political consultant firm they hired, RBI strategies.” Click here for the memo.

She also says that Hinman’s membership in the EMU Renovation Task Force establishes her unfair inclination on the issue. The example provided is the ASUO’s education campaign, which Castenado says contains “slanted language and pro-renovation opinions presented as fact.” Students wishing to learn about the issue were directed to this website; judge for yourself.

Castaneda then cites Hinman’s selective approach to student involvement:

Campus outreach during the week of the referendum disproportionately targeted Greek life. No student union or other student group with space in the EMU was notified of the referendum, yet several fraternities and sororities were visited by members of the ASUO Executive and encouraged to vote in the referendum. Why would [Hinman] go out of her way to travel to the homes of students belonging to fraternities and sororities to encourage them to vote, but not attempt to contact students already present in the EMU? The reason is that [Hinman] perceived Greek students to be more likely to vote yes, and students belonging to groups within the EMU more likely to vote no.

Castaneda suggests that, because the methods to achieve a “yes” vote on the EMU renovation appear to be biased, a second vote is in order. “The most logical remedy is to invalidate the results of this referendum, and hold a second referendum on the same question, this time under the jurisdiction of a duly appointed elections board.”

Grievance filed over EMU referendum

November 15th, 2012 by Nick Ekblad

Special Elections are currently open (my apologies for the late post) and the EMU referendum closes this Friday. Students are urged to educate themselves with the propaganda (self-described as unbiased, but is also outdated? WTF…) that has been distributed to the campus community electronically through emails and verbally by “students on 13th Avenue”. There are a lot of nice pictures and compelling arguments for WHY and WHEN the EMU should be renovated, but there has been little discussion about HOW. It makes sense to renovate the EMU (like the unbiased propaganda said), but there is a big rush and neglect of appropriate action in its planning.

The main problem I see with the proposed renovation is that students are expected to start paying for it beginning Fall of 2014, regardless of year in school. The project is EXPECTED to be finished by the start of the 2016 school year. I’d bet anybody who thinks that deadline will be met $20 bucks that it won’t. The “unbiased” information disseminated is ambiguous as to whether or not the EMU will be in service during the renovation (my guess is that, for the most part, no). Granted, the per term fee has been reduced from $100 to $69 per student, a significant reduction. Furthermore, I concede that it really isn’t that much skrilla (really a mere fraction of the formidable amount we already pay in tuition) to sacrifice for a better-functioning building with more study space. It should also be noted that private donations will account for $35 million of the project. However, that leaves $100 million put on students, starting Fall 2014. Those expecting to graduate in spring of 2015 or 2016 will be paying for something that they will not use, while being unable to use the current one that they will probably still be paying for! And who knows when it will be finished.

And the emails regarding RBI Strategies, of which I have requested the digital records, have yet to be made available.

In related news, concerned student Sophie Luthin filed a grievance against ASUO President Laura Hinman Wednesday afternoon. Her grievance cites non-fulfillment and illegal implementation of elections by the ASUO President. Accusing her of failing to appoint Elections Board officials and instead implementing the EMU Referendum herself, Luthin calls for the removal of Hinman from office.


Pay Attention: EMU renovation and Social Host Ordinance

November 6th, 2012 by Nick Ekblad

Two (or three) things students should be aware of these coming weeks:

  1.  A supposedly “informative kickoff meeting” for the EMU referendum vote will be taking place TOMORROW (WEDNESDAY), November 7th at 3pm in the Mills International Center. Learn more about the renovation and how you can get involved. The ASUO Executive’s plan for the following week of voting will be addressed, as well as how students will be educated and informed. Students can’t have a voice if students don’t attend!
  2. The Eugene Social Host Ordinance can lead to a $1000 fine for having gatherings of five or more with alcohol served or consumed, noise complaints, littering ect. There is a petition to oppose it. There will be a rally in the EMU amphitheater on November 19th, 6:30pm and those opposing the ordinance should certainly show up at the Eugene city council meeting at 7:30pm in the Bascom-Tykes Room at Eugene Public Library (100 West 10th Avenue). They need 100 students in order to show the city council that the student body opposes this ordinance. There will be limited transportation provided for students to reach the Eugene Public Library. Anyone interested in helping campaign for this event should contact Senator Lamar Wise in the ASUO.
  3. And, oh yeah… you have about 2 hours to vote in the general elections. That’s important, I suppose.

The Beer Barons of UO Housing are back!

October 18th, 2012 by Nick Ekblad

Just kidding. EMU Pub Night is now occurring weekly. The Buzz is serving beer on tap and certain domestic labels out of the bottle from 5pm-10pm every Thursday. All ages are welcome but bring your identification if you wish to drink booze!


Three graduate students enjoy pints of Falling Sky brew.

2 Referenda Down, 1 “Communication Strategy” To Go

August 20th, 2012 by Nick Ekblad

Friday’s teleconference between an OUS committee, ASUO President Laura Hinman and the vice president of Student Affairs Robin Holmes raised questions about hiring an outside firm to campaign for the passing of EMU renovations in October.

Because of the high cost of the proposed EMU renovation, $135 million, and the minimal student involvement in its planning, University of Oregon students have voted down the referendum. Well, now the administration, yes the suits in Johnson Hall, have hired RBI Strategies & Research using auxiliary funds to direct a political campaign designed to procure a yes vote from the student body this fall, which would raise tuition fees for each student over $100 per term.

According to an AP post on, the firm worked on presidential campaigns for Hillary Clinton, Howard Dean and Al Gore.

The campaign proposal is especially interesting, asserting the need to have certain phrases in mind considering “what we say about opponents”, including “narrow-minded,” “stuck in past,” “stubborn,” “opinions based on misconceptions,” etc. “Keeping up with the Pac-12” in student buildings is cited as a selling point as well. This is wholly conniving in the context of college students and a bill of $135 million… But that’s not the best part.

The proposed campaign slogan of RBI (a Denver-based campaign firm) touts a strong declaration: “Our Legacy. Our Pride. Our Union. Vote YES.”  They plan to spend $20,000 to $30,000 on T-shirts, drawstring backpacks, banners, table tents, stickers, and other items to grease up these wheels.

Luckily, Chief Administrative Officer Kirk Schueler called the marketing report contracted by the EMU Renovation Task Force “very biased,” addressing the lack of focus on student voter turnout, according to this Daily Emerald post.

As quoted in the Oregon Live post mentioned above, Lamar Wise pointed out (and rightly so), “When millions of dollars are on the line, and students are paying for it, their voice should come first.”  Wise also cast off the notion that the UO should need to “keep up with the Pac-12”, comparing it to “keeping up with the Joneses.” ZING.

So, let us all hope that this new “communication strategy” steers more toward the “educational campaign” that it should be and less toward the “political campaign” that RBI wants it to be. After hearing concerns last Friday, vice president of Student Affairs Robin Holmes and the EMU Renovation Team will reconsider the proposal of RBI, or perhaps even its hiring, at the expense of the students.

ASUO ELECTIONS ’12: I’m Tellin Y’all It’s SABOTAGE

April 9th, 2012 by Rebecca

Updated 4/9/12 – 3:35 PM

1) ASUO Constitution Court rules “these matters are best left to the ASUO Elections Board for adjudication.”

And also! Both related and unrelated..

2) ASUO Constitution Court rules to remove VP Candidate Lamar Wise from his position as ASUO Senate President as a result of a grievance filed by ASUO Senator Lindy Mabuya.

A Statement from the Katie & Alex Campaign:

“We made it a standard to run a clean campaign and I am extremely disappointed that this isolated incident has occurred where two individuals exercised extremely poor judgment. It saddens me immensely that this has occurred, as the rest of the Katie and Alex team, as well as the Ben and Lamar team, ran an amazing outreach drive to engage students on extremely important matters. The individuals responsible for this have been removed from the campaign.”

Ben Bowman and Lamar Wise of the Ben & Lamar campaign, along with Sam Dotters-Katz of the YES (Your EMU SRC) campaign, have filed grievances against the Katie & Alex campaign; they claim to have been hacked by Chuckie-D himself (Former OSPIRG Chair Charles Denson, spouse of VP Katie Taylor), and that their campaign materials were fucked with.

Wait what? Ben & Lamar’s management team confronted the Katie & Alex campaign, and “at least five” members “came forward with this information and all showed remorse except for Denson*.”

Hacked how? Wise says he lost access to his Gmail after opening a phishing website disguised as a Google Calendar component. Dotters-Katz says his email was also tampered with.

Fucked with how? Denson apparently used “find and replace” to jumble 12,000 phone numbers on a contact list of possible Ben & Lamar voters. The grievance states that hundreds of volunteer hours were wasted making calls to the wrong people. Dotters-Katz had a similar complaint, claiming that contacts of the YES campaign were either deleted or tampered with. Among the deleted was a list of student leaders in support of the campaign.

So who exactly? The grievances name Katie Taylor, Charles Denson, Kerry Snodgrass, Molly Bennison and Andrew Rogers as the people aware of the act.

Sam Dotters-Katz is calling this an “unprecedented act of cyber espionage.”

The Ben & Lamar campaign is calling for an immediate injunction on the election.

As for us at The Oregon Commentator, we’re calling for Katie Taylor and Charles Denson’s expulsion from planet earth. That’s right. We’re tired of writing about them. Did you think we were actually surprised by this? They’re simply living up to what we’ve called them out on being all along: the devil’s spawn. Look, this isn’t an absurd accusation. They’re a young married couple! Why else would they devote themselves to a life’s work of student manipulation? It just doesn’t make any sense.

We’ll just have to see what the ASUO Constitution Court  ASUO Elections Board does about this. Since these grievances concern the devil himself, let’s hope the Court Board likes a good exorcism.

Demons be gone!

*This post is a regurgitation of this ODE article, so read the original. Love you Emily!


EMU Planning Pub Night

December 15th, 2011 by Biff Wellington
Tis’ the season for University secrets! The EMU is graciously letting me peak under its planning tree and take a look at an early present to the 21 and over student body. There has been talk of initiating a monthly or bi-monthly EMU Pub Night (depending on its success) is in the works as we waste away at our parents houses for winter break. The plans that are yet to be approved by Student Affairs would include both The Buzz and The Break (in the basement of the EMU) to be converted temporarily into an alcohol serving, local music promoting bonanza! The goal of the project is to implement the plans within the first two months of the winter term and future events would be determined by the success of the first.

So what should you expect?

1. Two or more live bands playing in each The Buzz and The Break.
2. Alcohol to be sold (not 100% whether this will be by local vendors or of the domestic variety).
3. A centralized place on campus to booze down!
4. Possibility of having the event be a regular occurrence.

Now, what I would like is to hear what suggestions I can pass up to the planning committee so they have solid input from the people who would be attending these events. Tell me your concerns, your complaints, what you would like to see, or anything else that could help turn these plans into a reality.

New EMU? Nahhhh

December 6th, 2011 by Kellie B.

After a week long vote ending last Friday, UO students gave a big “no thanks” to a new EMU/SRC remodel, and to a $100 i-fee increase.

Beckstein thought that, due to the 9 percent tuition increase this year, students found the idea of shelling out even more cash a little disagreeable. Or, at least, those students who even knew the vote was being held.

The ASUO President was optimistic about the fate of the renovation, stating that a rework of the plan was “feasible.”

Student Affairs VP Robin Holmes was in her fortress of solitude and could not be reached for comment.

Vote or Die: The EMU Addition

November 29th, 2011 by Emily Schiola

Today starts the beginning of a five-day opportunity to vote on the EMU and Student Rec Center (SRC) renovations. I’m sure many of you have been getting annoying emails all day telling you how you should vote. I’m not going to do that. I don’t care how you vote and neither does the Commentator, but it is important to know what you’re voting on.


The first question is asking if you are okay with paying $35 a term to renovate the SRC There will be a juice bar, which I know is a big selling point to the lovely Sophie Lawhead. So keep that in mind.


The second question is asking if you’re cool with paying $65 a term to renovate the EMU. So that’s 35 plus 65. I write words, I don’t do math so figure it out for yourself.


Number three is about stipends. You can read my stipend post or read something educate yourself on that issue.

The next section took the Senate 10 hours to write so pay close attention.


If the EMU remodel is approved, should any student groups have their square footage space reduced in the new EMU?

Basically do you think the Insurgent deserves less space, probably? But be careful here because you might get beat up by the Women’s Center.


Should the EMU governance board continue to have a majority of non-elected student members?

Should average Joes help design the new building?


If the EMU remodel is approved, should the facility be closed during construction?

Would you like all hell to break loose for two years? Or you can think of it as a massive game of musical chairs. Everyone likes musical chairs.

And that’s really all my jurisdiction. The rest is about sports and stuff so you would have to consult someone who cares a little more, like the people in the drowning glass building… Happy voting!

EMU Referendum Postponed

November 9th, 2011 by Emily Schiola

On Thursday, our fearless leader Ben Eckstein announced that the referendum on the renovation of the EMU will be postponed until spring term.

In a letter written to the ODE today, Eckstein explained his hesitation was due to various concerns from student groups on campus and the lack of student input on part of the design of the EMU.

He explained that it is important to him that students are able to take the lead on this project and doesn’t believe that can be done at this time. By postponing the vote, he is hoping students will be more educated on the changes and decide to speak their opinions.

Another concern of the student body president is the possibility of mid-year tuition increases. If those should be put in place he wants to give the students time to figure out just how much they would be willing to pay for the EMU expansions.

It all comes down to five more months to decide whether or not to redo the EMU.

So what does this mean for an average student? Well, there are three kinds of people who will be affected differently.

First, there are those who have been diligently reading updates on the EMU referendum and anxiously awaiting the vote. Sorry to tell you, you are just going to have to wait to vote. The good news for you is you have more time to obsess over what color you want your group’s office to be.

Second, there are those who didn’t even know it was happening until reading about the postponement. You all have the opprotunity to either become someone from the first category or continue to be someone in the third category. The good news for you is you until spring term to decide!

Lastly, there are those who didn’t care to begin with and won’t care now. These are the kinds of people who don’t read campus publications and don’t even know how to vote. The good news for  you is, your life will be exactly the same.

What does this mean for Ben Eckstein?

He pissed even more people off with this one, but a lot of people still don’t really care. Basically his legacy will be changing a date. Big stuff.

What does this mean for the Oregon Commentator?

Now we can finally begin our take over of the EMU, one voter at a time. . .


Shame on EM-You: People unhappy with referendum postponement

November 8th, 2011 by Emily Schiola

It would appear that there are on students on campus who are not as stoked about the EMU Referendum postponement as Ben Eckstein.

In fact, one student, Benjamin Ordonez, filed a request to have the president impeached. Ordonez was the campaign manager for Eckstein’s opposition last year, Students United and he is pissed.

In his request for Eckstein’s removal, Ordonez stated that he feels as if Eckstein “violated not only specific provisions of the ASUO Constitution, but core principals that make up the very fabric of our democratic process.”

He stated in his request that he is worried that at this rate, the student president will be given too much control and the voice of the student body will be stifled.

Ordonez wishes to see the original referendum date restored and Eckstein booted from office.

Orodnez is not the only one who is heated about Exec’s decision. Club Sports Executive Committee sent a letter to various student groups who are housed in the EMU urging them to speak out against the postponement.

According to the letter, Club Sports does not believe that there is enough room in the EMU for all the student groups that have requested space.

They believe the renovations should take place as soon as possible in order to allow for everyone who needs room.

Also, they informed the students that even though we will not be moving forward with the renovations, there is still an architect on retainer, just waiting to be utilized. This will raise the initial cost.

The EMU Board of Directors is equally dissatisfied with the decision. In a letter written to the ASUO Executive, the Board reveled that they were not consulted before Eckstein made his decision.

The letter said, “Throughout this process, the ASUO Executive has called out Student Affairs for a lack of student inclusion, but so far the only ones cutting students out of the process is the ASUO Executive.”

The letter also said that there was limited proof to support Eckstein’s claim that students were not informed enough to vote on this issue. “It assumes that the student body was not capable of informing themselves before the vote,” the Board said.

Also, because of this postponement the EMU rennovation project will lose 10 to 20 million dollars. All for the sake of waiting a few months.

All in all, it would seem that Ben Eckstein and the Exec board screwed up royally. It seems like this decision might have just cost us a president and potentially a new EMU.

UPS Store to open on campus

August 30th, 2011 by Melissa Haskin

In a brilliant and unforeseen move, a UPS Store will open in the space the U.S. Post Office used to occupy.

Who would have thought? Mail on campus.


Either way, now your lazy ass doesn’t have to walk all of two blocks off campus to mail something.

FromWendy P Polhemus, Interim Director of the EMU:

Good Afternoon!
I am pleased to announce the opening of The UPS Store in the location formally occupied by the U.S. Post Office in the Erb Memorial Union.  Starting September 1, 2011 you will be able to receive an extensive array of UPS, postal, packaging and related services Monday – Friday, 8 A.M. to 6 P.M. and Saturday, 10 A.M. – 2 P.M.  Post Office box rental is also available.  For a menu of services please visit online or come by the store.   Within the next week or so the local website will be available at  A formal grand opening is scheduled during the Week of Welcome, September 19 – 23.


EMU Fee Stalled Pending Referendum

June 4th, 2011 by Lyzi Diamond

The student fee to fund the new EMU — which was going to charge current students for a building they were never going to get to usewill not be implemented next year. Not until there is a student referendum, anyway.

At a state Board of Higher Education meeting Friday, UO President Richard Lariviere withdrew the controversial proposal before it came up for discussion. Student leaders attended the meeting and were prepared to lobby against the fees, which ultimately would cost students $300 a year.

The money would be used to improve the aging Erb Memorial Union and expand the Student Recreation Center. Together, the projects are expected to cost $161 million, with $112.5 million coming from student fees.

UO student body President Ben Eckstein and other members of next year’s student government objected to the fees because students were not given the chance to vote on them. Some members of the state Board of Higher Education also had expressed reservations.

As a result, the university decided to wait and hold a vote on the fees after students return this fall, said Robin Holmes, the UO’s vice president for student affairs.

This is good news. Unlike the previous ASUO president, this one actually cares what students think. Nominal victory. But the administration, speaking through VP of Student Affairs Robin Holmes, seems to think everything will move forward without a hitch.

Stalling the fee will lose the project around $600,000 — $30 per student for fall term. Holmes is confident that the project will still move forward, however.

“I don’t anticipate this slowing us down,” Holmes said. “It’s okay to do the referendum and show we have student support and more forward with it.”

Our favorite anonymous professor over at UO Matters seems to think that admin agreeing to a referendum means they know the outcome. It’s very possible that students will still have to pay for a building before they can use it, including many who will not be around when it is completed. But at least students are being given a chance to express their opinion officially, and the outcome of a project is contingent on this student support or lack thereof.

Oregon Voice vs. Ethos Magazine Dance-Off

May 31st, 2011 by Lyzi Diamond

This Friday, the Oregon Voice will be facing off against Ethos Magazine for the second annual dance-off, at 12pm at the EMU Amphitheater. The Oregon Voice has made a promo/pump up/scare the competition video, which, I must say, is pretty awesome:

OV Vs. Ethos Dance-Off Preview from Quinn Moticka on Vimeo.

I’m not sure, but I’ve heard our very own Sudsy O’Sullivan will be making an unplanned appearance. Plus, it’s going to be hilarious and awesome. We will be there.

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,, 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.