23 Responses to UO Libraries posts info on Net Neutrality Day of Action

  1. Conservative Duck says:

    Hear, hear!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Kind of disappointed that it is just an announcement while others are actually popping up alerts in the way of other pages, but bravo for them posting something at all.

    • UO Matters says:

      Rumor down at the faculty club is that librarians wanted to send out a UO Alert, but the Police Chief nixed it.

  3. Thomas Hager says:

    I’m all for net neutrality, but wonder if this crosses the line on political advocacy. Specifically: “A public employee, while on the job during work hours may not prepare or distribute written material, post website information, transmit emails or make a presentation that advocates a political position.” (http://sos.oregon.gov/elections/Documents/260.432_quickref.pdf)
    This case is not simple because it advocates support for a regulatory position rather than a political candidate or ballot measure, but isn’t it still political advocacy? Net Neutrality Day is certainly all about advocacy around a political issue. I agree with Dean Lim’s position, but question her use of state resources to push for it.

    • DWD says:

      If subject matter experts at public research institutions cannot advise on matters of public policy, then what exactly are we all spending our time on?

    • duckduckgo says:

      It is worth figuring out what is acceptable and what isn’t, but would a climate scientist publishing a paper break that rule? I think a climate scientist arguing that climate change happens (or doesn’t) is pretty similar to a Dean of Libraries arguing that an open internet is essential for libraries to carry out their missions.

      • Thomas Hager says:

        I’ll play devil’s advocate (get it? advocacy?). If Dean Lim was simply providing data to inform a debate, that would be fine. I agree that university researchers should be encouraged to share their expertise as widely as possible. But when it involves political advocacy, it has to be done on their own time, without use of state resources. I am happy to hear Dean Lim’s views, but I wonder if she was right to use her work hours to prepare them and a UO website to disseminate them in her professional capacity as a state employee — particularly since she packaged her views in a way that was designed to spur a particular kind of political action on a pending federal matter, tied to a specific day of advocacy. My experience is that these sorts of things are fine as long as the audience agrees with the actions being advocated, and become scandals once someone on the other side of the political spectrum does the same thing. For instance, say the UO had a climate research center and the director used his time, position, salary, and UO resources to put up an official UO web page urging readers to question the validity of climate change and participate in a day of climate skepticism. Would that be OK, too? Just sayin’ . . .

        • Many, many laws... says:

          Are enforced only through people raising complaints. If you are sufficiently concerned, file a formal complaint.

  4. Kevin Reed says:

    Dean Lim’s message is perfectly acceptable advocacy on a regulatory issue that has direct impact on the University. Laws that proscribe political activity using university resources prohibit advocacy for or against a candidate or ballot measure. This regulatory proposal is neither. (And Dean Lim sought guidance from the General Counsel’s and federal government relations offices before posting her message, something all are encouraged to do if seeking to take a position on pending legislation/regulation while using the University’s name or marks.)

    • UO Matters says:

      Thanks for the explanation Kevin. Seems sensible.

    • honest Uncle Bernie says:

      Kevin Reed — just because it may be legal, doesn’t make it “acceptable” or prudent. It may not be a ballot measure, but it strikes me as administrative law, which many people would say makes it worse.

      I have no opinion myself on “net neutrality.” Bit this kind of advicacy strikes me as one of the things causing the recent drastic decline nationally in good feeling toward higher education.

      Read about the very recent Pew report on support for higher ed.

      • UO Matters says:

        I disagree. I think it’s admirable for faculty to advocate for political causes. In fact that’s one of the important justifications for academic freedom and tenure. See our hard-won Academic Freedom and Freedom of Inquiry policies: https://policies.uoregon.edu/content/academic-freedom-0 and https://policies.uoregon.edu/policy/by/1/01-administration-and-governance/freedom-inquiry-and-free-speech.

        That said I think we’d all be better off with more diversity in the sort of political causes faculty advocate for. Shouting in an echo chamber helps no one. Last I looked (2006) I could only find 25 registered Republicans among UO’s TT faculty. Political diversity is lowest in those departments that deal with political or cultural issues. For example, Economics, Political Science, and PPPM have a total of zero Republicans. Anthropology, Classics, Comparative Literature, English, Environmental Studies, Ethnic Studies, History, International Studies, Religious studies, Women’s Studies, and the Honors College have a total of 3 Republicans.


        • UO Matters says:

          And I should add it’s particularly admirable for Dean Lim and the UO Librarians to speak out, since they do so without the protection of tenure.

        • Do you think political affiliation... says:

          …should be the target of affirmative action type policies?

          Republicans lost the academy when they decided science wasn’t real.

          • UO Matters says:

            No, I think universities need to solve the political diversity problem ourselves, without government policies. Anyone got any ideas on how to do it?

            • CSN says:

              Affirmative action policies don’t have to be enforced by governments — they could be enforced by, say, an HR department.

        • honest Uncle Bernie says:

          UOM — I think political advocacy by faculty (or other public employees) is fine — it just shouldn’t be done on state time, or in the name of a state agency. That seems to me to be in accord with the letter and the spirit of the law in Oregon.

          As for the incredible political imbalance among UO faculty — it is typical of major universities, and I would be surprised if it hasn’t become even more pronounced since you did your very interesting survey in 2006.

          Unfortunately for higher education, at least in a lot of states, the public has caught on, and much of the public (Republicans and conservatives) does not at all like what it sees. Mostly, I suspect, because of the mob action and intolerance at places like Middlebury, Berkeley, Yale, Mizzou, and of course, the inimitable situation at Evergreen State.

          My favorite example this month is the sacking of the very popular conservative lecturer Keith Fink at UCLA — who taught courses on, of all things, free speech! (A good example of why conservative professors should be thankful for tenure protection, which he didn’t have.) He claims to have taught four courses per semester and welcomed hundreds of students in his classes. This has been all over the conservative broadcast and electronic print media. Bravo for them! (Yes, I mean Fox News, Tucker Carlson, National Review, the often execrable Frontpagemag.)

          Don’t be too surprised to see cuts in financial support for higher education, both within states and nationally. In fact, it’s already happening.

  5. Kevin Reed says:

    If anyone wants it, general guidance, as well as a link to Oregon’s Secretary of State’s guidance on limitations on campaigning can be found on OGC’s website, http://generalcounsel.uoregon.edu/workplace-campaigning

  6. Thomas Hager says:

    Happy to see Kevin Reed weigh in on this, and glad to hear that Dean Lim checked with his office before posting. ORS 260.432 does indeed restrict its definition of advocacy to “promoting or opposing any political committee or any initiative, referendum or recall petition, measure or candidate….Supporting or opposing political issues which do not fall into any of those categories is not restricted by the statute“ So it’s pretty tightly focused on electoral politics, leaving the door wide open, if I’m reading this right, on regulatory issues. Given the influence of politics on regulatory issues, this seems like a hole in the statute to me, but the law’s the law.
    I don’t worry about professors expressing their political positions. I’ve never met a professor who didn’t. What I worry about is doing it on the public dime and under the rubric of the University of Oregon. The risk here is not to the individual as much as it is to the institution. Many readers might see a professor’s personal political views about a regulatory issue, if they’re published on the UO website, as an institutional stance. That way lies many a PR debacle. So, yeah Uncle Bernie, just because it’s legal doesn’t mean it’s prudent.
    Kevin — are there any additional institutional restrictions on this sort of political speech when it’s attached to the UO name and marks? Anything on the books that limits comment to areas of expertise? Any limits on the use of university resources? Any requirement to check with your office?
    Anyway, let’s all remember this the next time a UO employee uses his or her work time and university resources to promote any one of a number of less attractive political positions.

  7. environmental necessity says:

    Let’s be clear: The organized plutocracy has invested 100s of millions of dollars related to political diversity on campus. 1: they have bankrolled professorships, student scholarships, student organizations, and, in particular, campus-based media outlets for conservatives causes and students and perspectives, to a total that dwarfs the sum total of such efforts by the “left”. If you don’t know this you no nothing about the political economy of the American academy of the last 40 years. 2: they have produced all manner of entities designed to police thought on campus, like Campus Watch, but many, many others as well since the end of the Vietnam War. This is all part of the extended reaction of the deep plutocracy since its defeat in Vietnam.

    One of their great and relatively recent successes has been to convince liberal professors that the failure of their efforts is not because they don’t appeal to students or faculty (their ideas are mostly bullshit) but rather the product of ideological pograms by “liberals” that keep right wing students and faculty off campus. Kristoff is the Patron Saint of this crew.

    To those on the right: Buck up and make more effective use of your Coors gazillions. You have the cash, now produce the ideas or STFU with your constant bellyaching. We recognize that it is a manipulative strategy in service of a regressive social mission.

    To those on the left: Don’t amplify Coors money with self-flagellation and preening narratives about how ideologically rigid the campus environment is. Really, only tenured professors with minimal interactions with current students can reach that conclusion in the first place.

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