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Dorm Life Finds Way To Get Worse

October 27th, 2005 by olly

Meant to pick up on this one yesterday. ODE editorial here. Not a huge amount to take issue with in the coverage, although the editorial wrings its hands a bit much. (“We must ponder who should be held responsible for this flagrant incident. The individual or individuals who made the alleged remarks should clearly be accountable for their actions. But…”) and the last paragraph is phrased strangely:

We are shocked that this sort of flagrant behavior would happen on campus. Administrators and student groups have taken steps to create a welcoming environment and a more diverse mix of students, but these efforts are in vain if students espouse racist attitudes.

The overuse of the word “flagrant”, in this context, is quite odd. I also think the conclusion is unduly defeatist. A world in which no student acts like an asshole is, alas, an impossible dream. That doesn’t mean a robust mechanism to punish people who (say) make racially motivated death threats to non-white students is a vain effort.

University Housing needs to investigate this seriously. Unfortunately, in order to do so they need concrete allegations against the individuals responsible, and at this point it’s not clear whether any will be forthcoming. Meanwhile, a point worth making again: if someone is found to have threatened the life of an incoming freshman – based on his race, his height, his sexuality, or because he looked at them funny – it’s not a “hate crime”, it’s a crime, and here’s hoping they find themselves in a whole world of trouble.

Rubberneck Dept.: Boulevard of Broken Distal Phalanges

October 27th, 2005 by Bryan

For no other reason than to scoop the Emerald on an otherwise unremarkable story, I describe to you the scene at the intersection of 13th and Hilyard roughly twenty minutes ago on my walk home from class: a young man wearing flip-flop sandals over socks, lying motionless on his backside next to a very nice bike in the street. There is no visible blood. A pickup truck with police lettering idling in the intersection, lights flashing with no siren.

Two black-shirted Fire Rescue personnel kneeling afront the fallen rider and one pink-shirted matronly lady kneeling behind him, asking questions/ providing instructions that are inaudible from the sidewalk. A maroon minivan is also idling in the street, but it moves curbside on Hilyard and another black-shirted authority approaches, asking questions, maybe looking at insurance info. There is no one in handcuffs. A fine assortment of gawkers on all four corners, asking questions of one another regarding the obvious. The fallen rider puts an arm into the air (right only) and squeezes his fist. He moves his right knee up and down. He tries to sit up, looks at the crowd, and one of the Fire Rescue guys puts out an arm, presumably saying, “Slow down, guy; take it easy.” He lies down again. Traffic is still moving, slowly, through the intersection, and no one is trying to stop it. Sacred Heart Medical Center is directly behind the fallen rider’s location in the street. Everyone wonders when the stretcher will arrive, or whether perhaps the fallen rider will walk away without one. I don’t have time to find out.

Apparently, Pullman Has A Lot Of Whitney Houston Fans…

October 26th, 2005 by olly

Jesus, this is what happens when I only read the FIRE website once in six months. I blame burnout from the whole PFC debacle. How the hell did we miss this story?

Someone see if they can get some MCC cash to get Chris Lee’s Mangina Monologues to come on tour, stat.

UPDATE: It continues. By the way, how creepy does the Office of Campus Involvement sound?

Price adjustments have also been made. A range of $5 for students to $100 for WSU or University of Idaho administrators will be enforced.

As for Lees upcoming plays, [Center for Human Rights Director Raul] Sanchez plans to attend in case another controversy arises.

Itll probably shorten the amount of investigation we have to do if Im actually a witness there, he said.

Sanchez is not usually comfortable discussing cases, but Lee has made the case public already, he said.

Sounds like it’s getting personal up there.

“[T]he case appears to signal that CSU campuses may have more latitude than previously believed to censor the content of subsidized student newspapers…”

October 26th, 2005 by olly

One to keep a wary eye on in the Midwest.

From reading the FIRE release above (and not being a lawyer) the critical designation seems to be that of a “non-public forum”. While this could apply to student-run newspapers bearing the imprimatur of a university or college – although it’s a fairly horrifying and authoritarian notion – I’d be curious to see how extensively such a decision could be applied to, oh, student-run online forums like, say, this one, or the ODE’s largely dormant blog smorgasbord. My instinct is that cracking down on online expression in all its depressing forms would require some even more heinous work of douchebaggery, and so, depending on whether SCOTUS decides to hear the case, we might be heading for a serious old media/new media schism on campuses nationwide.

Picture Worth A Few Hundred Words On Page Two

October 26th, 2005 by olly

Embattled illustrator speaks!

You know, with all the lunatic cartoonists from the Baggs/Layton school the ODE has employed down the years, it’s weird that this is the one defending himself on the Commentary page. Not even Bret Furtwangler’s overtly Republican (and very well-drawn, by the way) pieces drew much of an outcry, which always disappointed me.

Anyway, the only real point of interest in DuChateau’s column is the bit where he takes a shot at his predecessor:

…repetitive, cryptic and had virtually no relevance to campus life and the everyday activities of the majority of Emerald readers…

If he’s referring to Furtwangler there, I’m not sure what to say. Those cartoons were many things, but – assuming the majority’s everyday activities include “reading a newspaper” – “cryptic” is not one of them.

Tonya Harding: You’re Not Going to Believe This

October 26th, 2005 by Ian

I’m blown away:

Tonya Harding tussled in her home with a man she described as her boyfriend, prompting an emergency call by the figure skater-turned-boxer and an arrest of the man.

Christopher Nolan was charged with assault and pleaded not guilty Monday. He told deputies Harding threw him down and bit his finger when he said she had too much to drink on Sunday. The 27-year-old Nolan was ordered to stay away from Harding and to avoid alcohol.

Is there any Oregonian more famous than Harding?

Take Another Peace Of My Heart…

October 25th, 2005 by olly

The Register-Guard covers our own little peace activist who couldn’t, here. In the process, Greg Bolt uncovers a serious objection that actually hadn’t occurred to me before. Bogart’s proposed (I think – the specific goals seem to change from week to week) restrictions on permissible funding sources would be a major blow to the academic freedom that not only allows working scientists to seek external support to make research projects possible, but also allows (to deploy a cheap example) Ward Churchill to rant and rave to his heart’s content. Bogart appears to be claiming that any research the Department of Defense is willing to fund is inherently bad, no matter what. This is unlikely to please many of the people actually trying to get the funding; here, for instance, is UO research chemist Michael Kellman:

If the university ever tried to tell me I couldn’t apply for (unclassified research) grants from the military, I’d be out of here and so would a lot of other people, I would think. I wouldn’t stay at a place like that.

Bolt makes the point that it is already against the rules to use University resources to engage in classified research projects – research the fruits of which the University community would not be able to subsequently access – which seems reasonable. Meanwhile, Bogart and the inevitable Frank Stahl sound more and more like they’re living in some as yet unmade Terminator prequel:

“I think if a lot of American universities recognize the wisdom of this stand, it could have an impact,” Stahl said. “It could retard the rate at which the Department of Defense becomes so high-tech and so effective that a small group of very rich people could control the world.”

Right, because a low-tech military is a much better idea. Contrast with the following entirely refreshing quote, also from Kellman:

I believe the United States should have a strong military, and I believe that the military needs the best research available. I think it’s fine to be helping the U.S. military, and it’s fine for the University of Oregon to be doing that, and I think 80 percent of the people of Oregon would agree.

Most of the establishment seems to be ignoring Bogart and waiting for him to go away, which is a very sensible course of action, but it’s still good to have someone, just once, say that in public.

(Full disclosure, for anyone who cares: Prof. Kellman was on my Ph.D. committee. However, I hasten to add that none of my research has any conceivable military application – although who knows whether it’s sufficiently “people-based” to be conducted on a college campus?)

RRC Audio — Priceless

October 24th, 2005 by Tyler

For anybody who is worried about the power of the RRC, the ASUO’s latest bureaucratic boondoggle, I have this audio clip from tonight’s meeting. Actually, it’s a collection of three clips edited together. Listen to all of it, especially the first and third parts.

Hopefully the quality is OK; we had to cut down the size of the file drastically so we could upload it.

“Why Should I Change My Name? He’s The One Who Sucks!”

October 23rd, 2005 by olly

More feedback generated by ODE cartoonist Aaron DuChateau, here. (Apparently, he referred to perennial campus nuisance Frog as an “ass clown”, and the community was scandalized. Scandalized!) It was a while ago, and Tyler has spoken wisely there already, but I point it out for this defense of DuChateau from always quotable Commentary Editor Ailee Slater:

Furthermore, “Ass-Clown” sigifies both immature laughter as well as deep seated anger: The word is a humorous oxymoron in itself, and its inclusion within this cartoon was therefore warranted.

Um, Ailee – quite apart from anything else – this word… I do not think it means what you think it means.

If the extremely sensitive ODE readers who left comments are right, though, and “ass clown” is defamatory, Michael Bolton is going to have one hell of a lawsuit.

If It’s A Battle Of Wits You Want…

October 21st, 2005 by olly

As pointed out in the comments below, Anthony “The Rock” Warren’s missive to the ODE has elicited responses:

The arrogance you displayed by calling popularity to question in your commentary piece can easily be turned against you and the many social factions that inherently appoint friends to you.

Zing! The man has a rapier, and he’s not afraid to use it.


October 21st, 2005 by Bryan

Apparently, we’re the scourge of Lane County. It ain’t all bad, being a scourge.

ODE Watch: Can You Smell What Anthony Warren Is Cooking?

October 18th, 2005 by olly

College Republicans Chair Anthony Warren exercises the nuclear option on ODE cartoonist, here. Offending illustration here. Warren does not address the cartoon’s scandalous deployment of scare quotes, but does use the phrase “the smell of freedom”.

In other news, ODE sub-editors have just given up trying to headline Ailee Slater columns, here. (I would perhaps have gone with “blah dysfunctional society blah”, but it’s fine the way it is.) The piece itself seems to have had vital explanatory paragraphs excised; the good ol’ five Ws are running at no better than sixty percent strength. We also have the spectacular sentence

Lucila Ventura, 18 years old, is charged with murder, attempted murder, child endangerment and so on.

It’s the “and so on” that really kills you in front of a jury, isn’t it? Hard to blame the editors for not making much an effort on this one.

When In Doubt, Create Another Committee

October 17th, 2005 by olly

Nicholas Wilbur’s latest report on this new-fangled RRC thing:

[RRC Chair David] Gowards memo stated that RRC does not decide which programs are worthy of funding; it only decides whether a program is worthy of ASUO recognition.

Programs that arent recognized cant receive funding.

I’m glad we got that cleared up: the RRC won’t decide which programs are worthy of funding, it’ll just decide which programs can receive funding. I don’t know about you all, but I feel much better now.

As Ian pointed out below, this quote is significant:

The only instance that a program might not qualify for continuation of recognition is if its Mission and Goals statements have drastically changed since the previous year.

On its face, this seems airtight; but if that’s the whole story, it seems to make the RRC little more than a rubber stamp with a budget attached, given that most groups’ mission and goals statements don’t change drastically from year to year. In effect, though…

Goward said that in 98.9 percent of cases, programs lose recognition after somebody files a grievance a formal complaint with the ASUO Executive or the Constitution Court.

Aha. And that shouldn’t be too difficult to arrange, right? The RRC looks, to me, like an end-around designed to avoid the circus that ensued last year when PFC started making value judgments about groups’ mission statements, by ensuring that disfavored groups never even make it in front of PFC. If that is its purpose, I don’t think it’s a good idea. If that’s not its purpose, I’d be interested to hear other suggestions.

(And the potential impact upon this particular student group? Well, as last year demonstrated, an angry grievance-filing mob can be drummed up at relatively short notice on virtually any pretext. What I’m curious about is the legal distinction, or lack thereof, between PFC and a manufactured gatekeeper committee. My instinct is that the RRC, as a branch of student government, would be every bit as bound by Southworth as PFC is – but I may well be missing some of the nuances here.)

(…And That Passeth For Poetry)

October 16th, 2005 by olly

A non-substantive coda to the previous post: you just knew there was going to be poetry involved somewhere, didn’t you?

“Intricate wisdom, carefully woven and bound together by monumental strands of time,” eh? Allow me to riposte.

The Peace That Passeth Understanding…

October 16th, 2005 by olly

I’ve been browsing the Strike For Peace website for a while, honestly attempting to take it seriously. I have been aided in this by some of PJ O’Rourke’s pithier essays on Boomer protest narcissism, a large glass of Scotch, and two icepacks: one for the drink and one for my head. I have a few more comments.

First of all, the kindest thing that can be said about the Strike for Peace view of pre-1950 history is that it is naive, and reading the Petition for Peaceful Priorities I’m inclined to think “revisionist” might not be too harsh a term:

When America was born a people-first country, the concept of freedom spread rapidly throughout the world without military force…

This is, not to put too fine a point on it, nonsense. The concept of freedom didn’t even spread particularly well throughout America without military force. And depending on when Bogart is pronouncing the birth of the nation, “born a people-first country” is either a euphemism for “taken by brutal conquest”, “seized by armed revolutionary struggle”, or “riven by a bloody civil war”, none of which seem especially accurate. Bogart’s vision of a peaceful and harmonious international community subverted by evil profiteers since WW2 (so, perhaps not coincidentally, during Bogart’s own lifetime) strikes me as completely at odds with reality and seems to be among the factors that have driven him around the bend. At the risk of spoiling the party, may I point out that the world was arguably an even worse place before Bogart’s generation came along and taught the world to sing?

Also, and I’ve gone through the PPP with a fine-tooth comb looking for an answer to this, what the hell is Bogart actually demanding? Well, he’s demanding that “our national policies reflect our priorities and serve the rights and needs of the common people.” But what does this mean? Well, his primary beef seems to be that ” more than 350 of our universities are developing weapons for the Department of Defense,” where the word “weapon” is, I suspect, being interpreted rather loosely. OK, so he wants to cut the Pentagon’s R&D budget. Or I assume he does; the PPP is not long on specifics. By how much? Or, since “[d]eveloping weapons at our institutions of enlightenment contradicts the inherent purpose of learning,” is it OK if the research he objects to is carried out at other labs? (This would be a major loss of research funding for universities, by the way.) Since Bogart feels that military subcontracting is impeding the ability of, say, Campbell’s to coordinate a massive stand against war by the nation’s soup manufacturers, is he demanding (as he has implied in Eugene Weekly pieces) that the military should once again take internal responsibility for meeting all its soldiers’ needs? If so, is he relaxed about the fact that such a policy would be incredibly, unnecessarily expensive and make the military an even larger public employer than it already is?

Oh, and while I’m sniping: the point of a strike is that a group of workers can collectively withhold something of value from their employer as an extreme negotiating tactic. What exactly is being withheld here? (I mean, the guy’s even getting credit for his classes during this alleged strike, so the University is presumably still getting state money for having him on the books as a student.) How is this negotiation supposed to play out? Slice the Pentagon’s R&D budget by some amount to be specified later, or Brian Bogart will never set foot in a classroom again! And then he’ll get rained on in the winter! And then… and then you’ll be sorry? I’m not sure I’m buying this.