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Oregon Ballot Measures Explained in 3 Sentences Each

October 25th, 2012 by Tyler Millette

Measure 77: Authorizes Governor to declare catastrophic disaster and reallocate funds to disaster relief(requires legislative approval), as well as amends constitution to make it easier to call a legislative session in those circumstances. Pros: Allows for quicker aid and support if disaster occurs, and attempts to counteract government stalemate due to existing laws. Cons: Potentially expensive knee-jerk spending, gives the government more power than some would want.

Measure 78: Amends Constitutional language and makes grammatical and spelling changes. Pros: More accurate state Constitution, use of gender-neutral pronouns, gives us another ballot measure to vote on. Cons: How is our state so lame that this is a ballot measure during a Presidential election year?

Measure 79: Amends Constitution to prohibit taxes or fees on real estate transfers. Pros: Potentially blocks ‘double taxation’ due to existing property taxes, helps rural farmers keep family farms, limits Constitutional power of the Legislature. Cons: Could be considered special tax exemption for the real estate sector, limits Constitutionally granted power of the Legislature, partially already the law.

Measure 80: Allows personal consumption of marijuana and expands commercial uses of hemp. Pros: Tax dollars for the state, less wasted government money on marijuana-related crimes, sensible drug policy, LEGAL WEED! Cons: Marijuana more accessible, Taco Bell will need to hire more workers.

Measure 81: Prohibits commercial, non-tribal fishing with gillnets in inland waters. Pros: Allows for the preservation of our native salmon population, helps give recreational fisherman their ‘fair share’. Cons: Fishing jobs lost, unfair regulation of commerce.

Measure 82: Amends Constitution to authorize privately owned casinos. Pros: Percentage of proceeds go directly to the state, ends the unconstitutional monopoly by native tribes on casinos. Cons: Oregon Tribes have had legal right to casinos and will lose profit, ‘gambling related problems’ will be more present in Oregon

Measure 83: Attempting to allow a specific private casino in Oregon; See Pros and Cons of Measure 82

Measure 84: Phases out inheritance tax and all taxes on intra-family property transfers. Pros: Allows for family owned businesses to stay successful and avoid overbearing tax burden, stops ‘double taxation’ on profits. Cons: High-income families getting special tax break, lost tax revenue.

Measure 85: Constitutional amendment to allocate corporate income tax “kicker” refund to K-12 public education. Pros: Supports public education, averages $100-200 million per every three years for K-12. Cons: (No oppositional statements listed in Voters’ Pamphlet) Corporations are overpaying taxes, potential job losses.

Prevalence of On-Campus Sexual Assault Highlights University Failures

July 5th, 2012 by C.W. Keating

As anyone with a working University email address already knows, the Department of Public Safety (DPS) recently sent out an email detailing two separates rapes that occurred near Autzen Stadium and Chase Village. The tentatively-worded email states that

“Police have learned from second and third hand sources that there may have been three separate rapes within a five-day period near Chase Village and Autzen Stadium, beginning Thursday, June 28. No female victims have come forward or wish to file a report, so the information is unverified…

In one incident on June 29, a woman was walking alone around 10 p.m. on the bike path near Autzen Stadium when she was raped by a man with a knife. The suspect is described as a black male, 6′ tall, 200 pounds, with muscular build, and shaved head.

A second-hand report EPD has received is that two additional female victims have been raped on unknown dates, but within the same week, also in the same general area. One of these two incidents involved a similar suspect: black male, 6′ tall, 200 pounds, with muscular build, and shaved head.”

Besides being a horrifying and disturbing event, the incidents described in the email also point out the relative ineffectiveness of DPS and the overbearing presence of a “rape culture” around the UO. These are big claims to make, but stick with me here.

Based on the amount of “Campus Crime Alerts” I receive in my inbox on a weekly basis, it’s fairly clear that DPS is unable to “provid[e] a safe, secure, and welcoming environment.” While the emergency call boxes that litter campus are a great idea, it’s DPS’ inability to do anything other than dole out prevention tips and “Campus Crime Alerts” that really calls their authority into question. Not to mention the subtle fostering of a rape culture, where women are seen as “victims” rather than “survivors” and are perceived as “asking for it” because of their clothing or body language.

Just look at the passive voice in the first description: “A woman was walking alone around 10 p.m. on the bike path near Autzen Stadium when she was raped by a man with a knife.” Not “a man raped her” or “a man assaulted her”: she was raped. While this may seem like a minor syntactical kvetch, this kind of passive voice fails to accurately highlight the criminal nature of the act. You wouldn’t say “A store was robbed by an escaped convict.” You would say “An escaped convict robbed a store.” Instead, the attacker is placed in the background, and thus escapes scrutiny.

But it’s not all bad. The groups listed at the bottom of the email — Womenspace, SASS, the White Bird Clinic, the Counseling Center, SafeRide, and SWAT — are all excellent resources for survivors. Yet this doesn’t seem to be enough to change the prevalence of the University’s rape culture. There are many places that foster this kind of misogyny, undercutting the excellent work done by the aforementioned groups. Greek Life is an especially obvious target for such criticism, but you can find signs of rape culture anywhere. From the shouted “bitches” and “whores” within Taylor’s to the intense consumption of pornography, this mindset is everywhere around Eugene.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love porn. But all these factors have combined together to create a strangely patriarchal cocktail, one that views women as objects to be seized or sold. Women don’t deserve to be treated that way. And before the snarky comments come pouring in, remember that this isn’t about some bullshit in Washington D.C. or a genocide in some faraway country. This happens to people you know and love every day: your friends, coworkers, acquaintances, and even your family.

Rape is wrong no matter what your political beliefs. The failures of the University and DPS only stand as a testament to the kind of incompetence our school is slowly (and sadly) becoming known for.

Vicotry For Aclhol, Commentaorts Celebr#ate! (OLCC Ban Fails)

June 29th, 2012 by Ben Schorr

Drink up more than usual, friends! Today we rejoice as the Oregon Liquor Control Commission discontinues plans to ban cheap drinks in parts of Oregon. The OLCC was trying to make downtown Portland an “Alcohol Impact Area,” (not as fun as it sounds) giving the city of Portland the ability to prohibit businesses from selling disorderly-conduct-causing drinks like malt liquor and inexpensive wine.

So why am I drunk off of a 40 of Mickey’s in downtown Portland as I type this? Many personal reasons actually, but what I mean is, why are they still available downtown? Because it’s been determined that the OLCC doesn’t have the authority to establish AIAs to be recognized by Oregon state law. Cheap booze will live to be drank another day (or should I say, every day) but the city will try to push similar legislation next year.

This conclusion was reached just recently, but the plan has been supported by the organization and Portland officials for two years, and it’s sentiment can still be seen in the community despite the loss. Many businesses have stopped selling the controversial beverages voluntarily, even though the overall reaction of shop owners was mixed when the plan was first proposed.

Due to loss of alcohol related sales, Apu gets a side job.

One of the major arguments for enacting the ban was the supposed success in Seattle, cited by Theresa Marchetti in her original proposal. While the statistics look nice, other sources show that results varied and were ultimately disappointing as people simply found different ways to get intoxicated.

Banning sales of cheap alcohol not only infringes on responsible drinkers and store owners, but it could have some very detrimental results. History has shown that if a person wants a drink, they’re going to get a drink. I see two possible outcomes of this ban. 1) It simply moves riff-raff to another part of the city. Unlike downtown, most parts of Portland are more family-oriented and have more children residents. If we have to have it, let’s at least keep the belligerency in downtown. 2) It creates non-OLCC recognized suppliers in troubled areas. We could be looking at a full on hobo mafia here.

Movements like these have good intentions but generally become a hassle for law abiding citizens and lack worthy results. For example, Portland city commissioner Randy Leonard pushed legislation to lock up spray paint in 2008. It made sales of spray paint to the average Portlander very tedious, and outright banned sales of spray paint to people under 18. Yay graffiti is done! Actually, no significant results have been seen, but you still have to fill out that goddam clipboard in order to paint your bike.

Speaking of geographic memory devices that sexualize fictional characters, anyone in the “Harry Potter Fuck Me Hard” neighborhood can attest that parts of Eugene have staggering alcohol related crime rates as well. Downtown Portland would have been the first AIA in Oregon, but if it passes next year, will it be the last?

Little do these prohibitioners know, Thaddeus T. Rumplebottom was waiting in the sewer with his mouth open.

Past OC articles on the subject

Dotters-Katz v. ASUO Executive: A Hasty, Winded Recap

April 22nd, 2012 by Rebecca

Sunday, April 22.

The ASUO Constitution Court heard the Dotters-Katz v. ASUO Executive grievance publicly today, and the OC couldn’t cover it live on the blog because there weren’t any fucking outlets in the room. Not sorry.

The grievance was filed by former ASUO President and current UO law student, Sam Dotters-Katz, against our current, beloved ASUO President Ben Eckstein & Vice President Katie Taylor. You can read our earlier coverage of the allegations here,  but the grievance is basically an attempt to compel the Con Court to “invalidate the office” of the current ASUO Executive due to the “egregious misconduct” that was the sneaky, conflict-of-interest contribution Charles Denson made to the Ben & Katie ASUO presidential campaign of last year.

Anyway, the ASUO Constitution Court put on quite the show. They wore robes and had DPS officers present. It was all very pseudo-official.

We were all wondering why this was happening in the first place. Because if you know anything about anything, you would know that grievances are filed on the reg amongst the ASUO but never are these grievances heard publicly, and hardly is the Con Court ever seen. So to start, the Court explained that the hearing was being held because of “the merit of the petitioner’s claim, and the stature of the respondent’s office.”

The introductions of both Sam Dotters-Katz—who will be referred to from now on as “SDK”—and Ben Eckstein—who will be referred to from now on as “Beckstein”—were short and disjointed due to the heavy interruption by the Court. I can assure you that both SDK and Beckstein were visibly upset that they couldn’t hear themselves talk for the fifteen consecutive minutes they were expecting to have to do so.

I love the ASUO more. No, I love the ASUO more! Dammit, counselor, I LOVE THE ASUO MORE! No, I do!


This first part of the hearing was conducted with the burden of proof on the petitioner (SDK). It went a little like this.

1) The Court asked about the statements Beckstein made in this Ol’ Dirty Emerald article. SDK says they’re proof of guilt. Beckstein says that his statements were speculative.

2) The Court discussed the varying definition of “fraud.” SDK used a Webster’s definition. Beckstein used a 5-part US Legal Dictionary definition, claims that SDK would have to prove that respondents were guilty of all five facets of the definition.

3) The Court asked when both petitioner and respondent found out about Denson’s contributions: SDK heard it through “the rumor mill” in the days before the ODE article came out. Beckstein found out a short time after the transaction had been made. Our favorite response came from VP Taylor, who cited “I read about it in the paper like everyone else.” God we love her.

Then there was a brief recess because Chief Justice Schultz said it was “getting hot in here.”



The second part of the hearing was framed in a way in which the Court could hypothesize the guilt of the ASUO Executive. Listed below is what was touched upon.

1)     The Court asked respondent about the detrimental effects on the election that could have been caused by Denson’s contributions: Beckstein asserted that contribution transactions wouldn’t have been known to voters, and that the Ben & Katie campaign was openly pro-OSPIRG so nothing was hidden.

2)     The Court asked respondent whether or not Denson intended to change the outcome of the election with his contributions: Beckstein says that “even if he had that intention, he couldn’t achieve that end by making a contribution.” And if the election results were indeed affected by his contribution, Beckstein cited ASUO Elections Coordinator Cedar Cosgrove to argue for the “ambiguity of the elections rules.”

3)     The Court asked petitioner about the suggested remedy for this injustice: SDK made clear that he was not asking for “impeachment for non-fulfillment,” but for the Court to “invalidate” their winning of office. SDK went on to say something like “If compromising election information comes up later, they candidates aren’t immune to the rules, just because they kept a secret for so long or because there’s a month left in their term.” Beckstein rebutted saying that SDK was asking for “the disenfranchisement of thousands of voters.”

4)     The Court asked respondent a GOOD QUESTION that was along the lines of, “Had Katie & Alex been elected this year, and had their little political sabotage problem come to light far after their instatement into the ASUO Executive (in the way that this claim has), should they be removed?” Beckstein said he couldn’t answer because the facts were too different and because he was not part of the campaign. The Court rephrased the question to be more general, along the lines of, “Is there any circumstance in which violation of election rules can constitute removal of office?” Beckstein said yes, but not in this case. Beckstein went on to say, “The ASUO Constitution is supreme over election rules once a President and Vice President have been instated in office.” SDK thanked the Court for the questioning, and thought that Beckstein’s statement was crucial by admitting that there is indeed circumstances in which an executive office can be invalidated at a later date for violations of elections. With this, SDK urged the court to invalidate the current executive.


 The end was the best part.

As we approached adjournment, Beckstein argued that SDK’s grievance had political motives. Associate Justice Melka-Benevento apologized and admitted that it was her first year as a Justice, therefore it was her first year in the ASUO. She didn’t know what he meant by political motives. She even asked for him to define it. Of course, everyone else in the room knew what Beckstein meant. Everyone else in the room was an active member of the ASUO or campus media. But this poor, naive, Justice of the Court couldn’t even fathom the fact that our student government is fueled by political motives. I write about this shit on the daily and even I can’t fathom it.

The significance of this doesn’t lie in whether or not SDK has political motivations. The significance lies in the embarrassing truth that the actions of our student body President and Vice President were so serious, and the petitioner’s claim had so much “merit,” that the Constitution Court felt it necessary to hold what was essentially a public trial. Our President and Vice President are being tried for egregious misconduct and the Court is deliberating their removal.

They will deliver their decision by Friday, so yeah. We’ll letchu know then.

KEZI9 Covers ASUO Phishing Scam

April 10th, 2012 by Nick Ekblad

So, we’ve all heard about the ASUO phishing scam, but just in case you were too lazy, busy or hungover to read anything about this fucked up shit, here is the story via this KEZI9 Youtube video to save you some time.

Former ASUO President and current UO Law Student Sam Dotters-Katz in the video: “I think that we’ve gone beyond student government at this point, when you have federal crimes being implicated against members of the student government.”

Word up, Sam! Indeed, this kind of shit simply doesn’t fly. This is what is wrong with America. My only further comments are, “YES THIS GOES BEYOND STUDENT GOVERNMENT,” as well as “HOW SELF-RIGHTEOUS DO YOU HAVE TO BE IN ORDER TO ATTEMPT TO RIG A COLLEGE ELECTION???”


Face-palm. Goddamn.

OC editor, former publisher also married

January 24th, 2012 by OC Editorial Board

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Moss Street to be paved for parking lot

November 25th, 2011 by Rebecca

The UO, with the consent of the abutting property owners, applied for the vacation of a portion of Moss Street extending from East 15th Avenue to East 17th Avenue. Moss Street is located just east of campus, but you’re probably not familiar with East Campus, because it’s opposite West Campus—the area in which you either live or party or both. You can find Moss Street in the shadow of Matthew Knight Arena, and along it you can find the site of the new East Campus Residence Hall, an exquisite gravel parking lot, a couple of houses converted into UO offices, and the sad, displaced Moss Street Children’s Center.

The Eugene City Council held a public hearing Monday night with the Moss Street ordinance first on their agenda. Four people stood and spoke on behalf of the ordinance, three of which were a tri-part UO tag team: the VP of Finance and Administration, the assistant VP of Student Affairs, and some landscape architect. They each presented a few reasons why vacating Moss Street was in the “public interest.” They claimed that the purchase of Moss Street is part of the UO’s “strategic effort to steer parking away from its surrounding neighborhoods,” allowing the UO to transform Moss Street’s 60 parallel parking spaces into 107 head-in parking spaces. The benevolent UO also says that they really just want to “lessen the burden” on the city, repair sidewalks, add better lighting and maintain the landscaping themselves.

At the hearing, the public produced only one person in opposition, a certain Zachary Bishnoff, “former” UO student and concerned citizen. Zachary moved us all with some of that lukewarm, quintessentially Eugene, stick-it-to-the-man rhetoric we all know and love: this will turn the historic Fairmount Neighborhood into a suburban office park, how does UO know what is in the public interest, I have a ponytail and a mustache, blah blah blah. Well to mine and the UO tag team’s surprise, and I think to Zachary’s as well, the council responded to this plea and voted to delay the vacating another two weeks, giving time for further deliberation and for anyone else to submit their concerns to the council.

Adjourned, bitches. Democracy at a local level throws an eensy-weensy wrench in the inexorable gears of the University of Oregon and its malicious encroachment upon the city of Eugene. Well, you can bet that I’ll be submittin’ nothin’ to the council in my allotted two weeks. You know why? Not only does the UO already own all property adjacent to this portion of Moss Street, but the UO’s gonna fork out a cool 1.8 million to the city of Eugene for those ugly 1.35 acres (58,729 square feet). I just know that number makes Mayor Kitty Piercy purrrrrrrrrrr. Today I walked down Moss Street myself and I couldn’t even tell I was off campus. Call me indifferent, but I hereby conclude that the UO’s motion to purchase part of Moss Street is not that big of a deal. But read the ordinance and form your own opinions here.


OUS misses deadline to appeal gun ruling, announces decision to not appeal a week later

November 8th, 2011 by Ethan Bendau

Nearly a week after the passing of the Nov. 2 deadline for an appeal on the September ruling by the Oregon Court of Appeals that invalidated an administrative ban of firearms by the Oregon University System, OUS Chancellor George Pernsteiner has announced that they will not seek to appeal the ruling.

After the initial ban in September, University of Oregon president Richard Lariviere sent an email expressing veiled disapproval, but remained unclear about any attempt to appeal the case. ASUO President Ben Eckstein voiced his desire at the time to appeal the “flawed” and “dangerous decision.” Yet no plans to appeal ever surfaced, as Pernsteiner claimed that, “We do not want to go through a long and costly process that may produce the same outcome.”

In wake of the announcement, OUS Director of Communications Di Saunders noted that, “Instead we are putting our efforts into looking at polices already in place to limit gun use on campus.” The current focus for the OUS is ensuring that guns are kept out of certain buildings, already including dorms and sports arenas, but could be extended to classrooms and other buildings.

The announcement comes as no surprise to anyone who realizes that missing a deadline means you’re shit out of luck either way. My guess is that George knew an appeal was hopeless and hoped he could get by with his balls intact when no one noticed him pussy out on everybody. Either that, or he was a little wary of aggressively trying to take away the rights of citizens who choose to defend their liberties with lethal force. It will be a sad day when game day at Autzen will no longer allow the longstanding tradition of Puddles shooting off a round into the opposing team’s marching band section for every Oregon point scored.

Occupy Eviction

November 5th, 2011 by Kellie B.

The University of Oregon announced yesterday that it has asked the Occupy Eugene camp situated along the Millrace to vacate by the end of the weekend. DPS will be monitoring the move. Many are speculating as to where the next shantytown of democracy will sprout up, but possible locations include the Saturday Market drum circle, Knight library bathrooms, or their ex-girlfriend Tammy’s garage.

Party Patrol: Cashing in on your kegger

November 1st, 2011 by Emily Schiola

Starting February 4th, a “social host” ordinance will be going into effect. This means that if the police are called to a party, the owners or renters of the house will be fined if there are people under 21 attending. The first time it is a fine of $250 and a warning. If it happens again within three years the fine is raised to $500 plus the cost of the law enforcement officers that were called. The third time it happens within 3 years, the fine will reach $1,000.

The Lane County Board of Commissioners, due to concerned homeowners, drew up this ordinance. It appears that community members who live near campus are being greatly affected by underage parties. The committee responsible for putting the “social host” ordinance into motion calls themselves “party patrols.” This group consists of residents of homes near campus.

The whole idea behind “party patrols” is to cut down on student binge drinking. Along with a host fine, the fine for noise ordinances and minors in possession will be increased starting January 4th. Michael Kinnison, neighborhood services program manager, brought these and 14 other ideas to the Lane County Board of Commissioners.

“There need to be significant consequences for negative behavior,” he said. “And law enforcement needs to be part of the solution.”

According to the “party patrols,” these laws are not meant to target all student residents, just repeat offenders.

Justice Scalia compromises neutrality in pizza-related cases

October 22nd, 2011 by Sudsy

(Insert lame joke about controversial rulings vis-a-vis pizza here)

This is what Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia said about deep-dish pizza (link courtesy of Death and Taxes):

“I do indeed like so-called ‘deep dish pizza.’ It’s very tasty,” the Italian American justice told the crowd, reports the Chicago Sun-Times. “But it should not be called ‘pizza.’ It should be called ‘a tomato pie.’ Real pizza is Neapolitan [from Naples, Italy]. It is thin. It is chewy and crispy, OK?”

Important point. One that needed to be said. But if a case involving Pizzeria Uno ever makes it to the Supreme Court, its most conservative justice could find himself regretting his words.

You might have fun with how much the blogger in that link overthinks the issue.

Peter Quint Suing University of Oregon

July 18th, 2011 by Lyzi Diamond

Fox News is reporting that Peter Quint, the ASL professor who was fired over a comment he made to one of his students, is suing the University of Oregon. Since being suspended, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education has stepped in, writing a letter to President Richard Lariviere demanding that Quint be reinstated for the 2011-12 academic year. (Read their investigation and letter here.)

There are two things going on in this case: the violation of Quint’s right to due process in being hastily suspended and the violation of Quint’s right to academic freedom in being fired for a comment that could have been interpreted widely. In regards to due process, the UO and the Oregon University system seem to believe they’ve got everything under control. contacted university officials, who would not comment on the pending litigation. However, the university did release a statement.

“The University of Oregon conducted a thorough investigation into the incident that occurred in Mr. Quint’s classroom prior to taking action,” the statement reads. The Oregon University system also said it has procedures for formal proceedings when dealing with matters such as Quint’s.

“The charges or a notice accompanying the charges shall inform the academic staff member of the right to a formal hearing on the charges and of the academic staff member’s duty to notify the president within 10 days after the charges have been delivered or sent whether such hearing is desired,” read the procedures.

Quint’s lawyer disagrees, and is coming at the free speech debate from another angle: the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Quint declined requests for comment after consulting with his lawyer, Kevin Tillson. Tillson did tell that the university terminated Quint mid-term without due process and violated Quint’s free speech and his rights under the Americans With Disability Act for failure to provide reasonable accommodations in the workplace.

As an adjunct professor, Quint is not rewarded the same rights as associate or full tenured professors, which will greatly influence the outcome of the court case. Regardless, it is fantastic that Quint is standing up to UO administrators and fighting for his job. In every instance of a professor, adjunct or otherwise, not being granted the rights he or she deserves, a precedent is set for the next time the UO deals with a professor. And as I mentioned in my previous post, the UO administration already has a tenuous relationship with the first amendment. The time to act is now.

In the words of UO Matters, “Soon professors will need a concealed carry permit just to make a presentation with bullet points.”

FIRE Intermediates In Termination of UO ASL Professor

July 7th, 2011 by Lyzi Diamond

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) has launched an investigation into the termination of University of Oregon American Sign Language professor Peter Quint after he made what was perceived to be an off-color comment to a student in his ASL 203 class. A letter was sent from FIRE to University President Richard Lariviere on June 27 insisting that Quint be reinstated for the 2011-12 academic year.

In his 200-level ASL classes, as is the case with most 200-level language classes, Quint expected his students to not speak aloud — similar to a Spanish professor expecting students to not speak in English. He was having trouble with students not following this policy, so in order to attempt compliance, he relayed a personal story about being taken hostage in Pakistan, and how his ability to communicate via sign language saved his life. That was May 4th of this year. Then this happened:

Being deaf himself, Quint had made it clear to his students, both during lectures and in his syllabus, that respectful communication in class required that all communication be visible. Yet, later during that very class, some students again violated this policy. In frustration he expressed, “Do you want me to take a gun out and shoot you in the head so you understand what I am talking about? I had to practice being respectful in Pakistan otherwise I would have been shot. Can you practice the same respect here?”

Those ASL 203 students did not see Peter Quint again. Nor did anyone else at the university, as on the same day, Michael Bullis, the dean of the College of Education, sent Quint an email suspending him from teaching for the next day. The next day, Bullis sent Quint another email, suspending him indefinitely and promising to meet with him to discuss his future employment.

According to FIRE’s investigation, that meeting never happened, and on May 11 Quint received his final email from Bullis, dictating his termination.

The problems here are twofold — not only was Quint denied the due process that should have been afforded to him as an employee of the University of Oregon, his free speech was infringed upon, as FIRE mentioned in its June 27 letter to President Lariviere:

The principles of academic freedom and free expression in the university setting mandate far more tolerance than UO has afforded Quint. As the Supreme Court stated in Texas v. Johnson, 491 U.S. 397, 414 (1989), “If there is a bedrock principle underlying the First Amendment, it is that the government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable.” The Court handed down such a robust defense of potentially offensive speech precisely because deeming certain speech to be offensive is an entirely subjective exercise. In a milieu as diverse as the modern academy, speech is bound to be misinterpreted, and offense is virtually unavoidable. Free speech needs breathing room in order to thrive.

Finally, UO’s punishment of Quint raises grave due process concerns. Bullis completely failed to provide any protections or follow any part of the process spelled out in the Oregon Administrative Rules (OAR) for the punishment of non-tenured faculty members. The utter lack of notice, charges, a hearing, or an opportunity to appeal constitutes a severe violation of Quint’s due process rights under the rules and a betrayal of fundamental fairness. Moreover, Bullis’ requirement that Quint not “contact faculty, staff, or students” before the end of his appointment was a further violation of Quint’s free speech rights which also made it effectively impossible for Quint to defend himself and his reputation.

FIRE is demanding that President Lariviere apologize for Bullis’ actions, reinstate Quint for the 2011-12 academic year and remove all records of this from Quint’s employment files. They are also expecting a response from the university by July 18.

The most alarming part of this situation is the complete lack of due process that Quint was granted throughout this situation. The University of Oregon has a tenuous relationship with the first amendment on campus, which was seen clearly through the Pacifica Forum debacle, but also through an interview with Dean of Students Paul Shang in the January 26 issue of the Oregon Commentator. Dr. Shang was asked, “The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education has listed the UO as a Red Light school for its speech code policy. How do you juggle the responsibility of providing free expression and student safety?” His response [emphasis added]:

That’s kind of a conversation that evolves. Depending on what the issue is and how something is stated, you can get different kinds of perspectives on what sorts of infringements are occurring. FIRE looks at things from just the free speech perspective. There are, in my opinion, a lot of issues having to do with free speech that people need to be thoughtful about. The fact that we are the only democratic society in the world that has these notions of unbridled speech is something that we need to think about. Canada has limitations of speech. England, Israel, all kinds of democratic countries have different perspectives on unbridled speech. That is something that may become more of an issue as our country evolves.

What we do here at the university is we want to promote freedom of speech. The free expression of ideas is fundamental to higher education. The other piece that is fundamental to higher education is that ideas will be expressed in such a way that they don’t undermine the civility that’s necessary for people to participate in a higher educational experience. You can’t be intimidated, you can’t feel threatened, you can’t feel in any way that you’ll be humiliated and it’s in that context that you can have a true free expression of ideas. On the one hand we want to have freedom of speech, on the other hand we want everyone to participate and have equal access to the higher educational opportunity.

So we’re trying to balance some things, things that you’d agree are fundamental rights. FIRE is looking at things from one perspective: the freedom of speech perspective. And certainly we, as you know, will do everything we can to promote and defend freedom of speech, to abide by the law and the notion and right of freedom of speech. On the other hand we want to make sure that everybody on campus has an equal opportunity to the whole educational experience.

Let go for a minute of the fact that Dr. Shang didn’t really answer the question that was asked. What he did there was create a dichotomy: freedom of speech vs. access to education and student safety. Not only does this show a lack of understanding of the First Amendment and its scope, it has potential parallels to this situation with Peter Quint: did the UO terminate Quint’s employment because they were worried about the safety of his students? We can take the skepticism a step further: was the UO protecting itself from the potential backlash and bad press of having students “feel threatened” by a comment made by a professor?

Legally, neither of these concerns holds any weight. FIRE is no stranger to communication with the University of Oregon, and has been at least somewhat successful in its endeavors. Heck, the Oregon Commentator is still around. Let’s hope that this case is no different, and Professor Quint receives the process he is due.

(Note: FIRE has a “take action” link at the end of its blog post about this issue where readers can click a button to send President Lariviere a letter urging him to reinstate Quint. The key sentence in the form letter: “The rights of UO faculty are very fragile indeed if the university believes it can dismiss its instructors for their classroom comments without even presenting any formal charges against them, much less allowing them the opportunity to address and rebut such charges.”)

Obama Uses “Autopen” to Sign Patriot Act

May 29th, 2011 by Nick Ekblad

An autopen.

Firstly, why the fuck is there even such a thing as an autopen? As I type this, spell check underlines that word with the squiggly red line of blunder.  According to Frank James of NPR, “It is apparently the first time in U.S. history this has been done.”

Frank Jame’s article cites this part of the Constitution:

“Every Bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a Law, be presented to the President of the United States; If he approve he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it with his Objections to that House in which it shall have originated, who shall enter the Objections at large on their Journal, and proceed to reconsider it.”

The automatic signature was affixed to a bill extending the Patriot Act. Georgia Representative  Tom Graves of Georgia sent a letter to Obama, asking him to confirm whether he takes the constitution seriously.

…Just kidding, Tom Graves didn’t say that. But he did sort of call him out. This whole happenstance is excruciating political bullshit. Read the article outside, or next to a toilet. There are pictures of the autopens, too. They show six different kinds.

It would seem to me that having such a device would eventually debase, maybe even eliminate the importance of a signature. However, Obama is in Europe and that’s why it was done. He even signed a document authorizing the use of the autopen while abroad. So, I guess I understand that.

But the fucking Patriot Act?

Goddamnit, Obama… Goddamnit.