University of Oregon leaders admit they made a tactical error when they hired a top political firm that advised them to use hard-sell techniques and $30,000 in free T-shirts and other items to persuade students to raise their own fees to upgrade the student union.
UO Vice President Robin Holmes said Monday evening that the university has ended its contract with the firm and won’t follow through with any part of the full-bore effort to control student messaging, criticize opponents and hand out swag in advance of an October student vote.
That has led the university administration to some desperate measures—which may lead to more trouble. Students have learned that the university hired a Denver-based research-and-strategy firm, which specializes in political campaigns, to try to push the students to a yes vote in yet another referendum in October. That fact alone has irked some students who have been active in the student-union debate.
But it’s the language of the proposal from RBI Strategies & Research that has really angered them. A section of the document lays out “what we say about opponents” of the university’s plan, ticked off in talking-point bullets: “narrow‐minded,” “stuck in past,” “stubborn,” and their “opinions are based in misconceptions and misinformation.” The damning last bullet: Students “don’t care.”
Today the ODE published an update on the EMU expansion:
“We weren’t pushing a ‘yes’ vote, we just put the information out there,’” Haunert said. “Some of the general concern is, ‘Why am I paying now if I am not going to be here next year?’ And I always say you have what you have right now because two years ago students paid early fees. We can’t build a building unless we have money to do it.’”
Inexplicably, the reporter leaves this quote unchallenged, or for that matter even explained, and provides no reference to the many previous news reports.