UO Trustee and ASUO President Sam Dotters-Katz threatens President Gottfredson with student government secession from the UO administration

4/8/2014 update: No, I’m not making this up, and yes, my first reaction was to wonder why the UO Senate didn’t think of this years ago.

Reporter Ian Campbell has the story in the Emerald, which also has a helpful timeline for background on this developing crisis. Meanwhile, still no word on which administrator ordered UO’s newly armed police department to arrest and jail one of ASUO’s student president candidates.

4/6/2014 update: UO student president candidate arrested by UO Police for recording a conversation in his dorm room

Long story, all I know about this is what I read in the Emerald. On Friday, UO VP Robin Holmes overruled student government and put one presidential candidate back on the ballot, after the student court had kicked him off for intimidating another candidate. On Sunday, the UO Police arrested the intimidee, for secretly recording a conversation with the alleged intimidator. The Emerald has the story here. Oregon law normally makes it illegal to record a conversation without telling all parties you are doing it:

(1) Except as otherwise provided in ORS 133.724 or subsections (2) to (7) of this section, no person shall:

… (c) Obtain or attempt to obtain the whole or any part of a conversation by means of any device, contrivance, machine or apparatus, whether electrical, mechanical, manual or otherwise, if all participants in the conversation are not specifically informed that their conversation is being obtained.

I’m no lawyer, but note that “Except as”. The relevant ORS (as posted on former Journalism Dean Tim Gleason’s website) includes an exception that allows people to record a conversation “in their homes” without informing others:

(3) The prohibitions in subsection (1)(a), (b) or (c) of this section shall not apply to subscribers or members of their family who perform the acts prohibited in subsection (1) of this section in their homes.

So is a dorm room a home? Presumably Randy Geller’s opinion is that it’s not. For whatever that’s worth. This college student law FAQ says it is a home. I wonder who ordered this student’s arrest?

(What’s a conversation? (1) “Conversation” means the transmission between two or more persons of an oral communication which is not a telecommunication or a radio communication. A separate rule applies to phone calls – these can be recorded by one party without the other party’s knowledge, whether at home or not.) Full disclosure: I’m no lawyer.

4/5/2014: VP for student affairs Robin Holmes manipulates another student election

Hypocrisy is the word. Back in 2012 Holmes made it into the Chronicle of Higher Ed, over her willingness to spend UO student money to manipulate the UO students into voting for a fee increase to pay for EMU renovation:

http://chronicle.com/blogs/buildings/u-of-oregon-courts-hard-hitting-tactics-in-persuading-students-to-raise-fees-for-renovation/31644

Now she’s decided that the UO students aren’t competent to manage the process for electing their next ASUO President:

http://dailyemerald.com/2014/04/04/asuo-elections-postponed-four-members-of-the-asuo-elections-board-resign-as-uo-administration-steps-in/

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25 Responses to UO Trustee and ASUO President Sam Dotters-Katz threatens President Gottfredson with student government secession from the UO administration

  1. I actually like Robin Holmes. Truth be told: I feel like I probably would not have earned my Ph.D. at UO, if it wasn’t for her intervention. While at first glance this might come across as “anti-democratic”. In my interactions with Dr. Holmes, which date back many years (and prior to the position she holds now), Holmes has always struck me as someone who is very empathetic and is also as an ‘honest arbiter’.

    There is probably a lot more going on and much more information available that we don’t have access to.

    • a student says:

      This post has been deleted.

      • observer says:

        UO backs down because someone threats to sue? Not credible. There’s more to this story. Which student or student group is looking into this or is the best response just to blog about it? Can the Elections Board research a way to override her decision or has everyone just quit?

  2. Anon says:

    MacGregor Ellen. Why do these kids quit all the time?

  3. anomaly says:

    The new Oregon “way”. Top down bullying. Whats worse is how they have endorsed bullying by underlings pushing an agreeable agenda. Pretty soon, the only way to do anything thing at UO will be through a lawyer and threat of law suit.

    P.S. unionizers take note of this; dues may have to be raised to maintain the fleet of legal reps needed to deal with this

  4. Mac Ehlen says:

    While I have a lot of respect for the admin, this decision is deplorable. We followed our process, and now admin is overturning that to allow a complete bully on the ballot. If admin wants to do this, they can do it without an elections board.

  5. This is probably the main reason that I have been such a vocal opponent of the UO having their own private armed police force.

    What I have said for quite some time is that when you have your employer and an administration with their own private armed police force, it will inevitably lead to using that police force being used to implement the organization’s policy – not as instrument of crime control. This is what we are seeing now.

    FWIW – I personally doubt that Randy Geller was consulted about this at all. The accused student now has a strong claim against the University for violating his civil rights, committing a federal “color of law” violation, and committing the state crime of Official Misconduct. That doesn’t strike me as something that Mr. Geller would become involved in. I could be wrong though…

  6. cue the audience says:

    Well, if there wasn’t a lawsuit to be filed earlier, there sure is one now.

  7. Mark Trexler says:

    Transparency Alert: I am Marshall Kosloff’s father (anonymous postings just seem to contribute to the Lord of the Flies aspects of what you are doing to each other in Eugene).

    Just to add a note of reality to the postings on this blog, Robin Holmes did not take the step she did last Friday in response to any threats or “bullying.” She took it in response to the apparent violation of state law in the elections process (the tape showing up).

    This entire Lord of the Flies process at UO all goes back to the original grievance, which was accepted as fact by the students running the Election Board, and which forms the basis for the supposed “conviction” of multiple students. Now that the tape of the supposed nefarious meeting has been made public by the Emerald, just listen to it.

    The most obvious conclusion is that the tape would have been 1/2 the size and easier to understand if the words “f#$%ing” and “like” had not been uttered. But that aside, what I heard were four opinionated aspiring politicians having a frank conversation. It comes across as very spirited but ultimately pretty friendly and respectful conversation. “Fair” was also one of the common words, and at the end Thomas asked whether the other three wanted to meet again in a couple of days to talk some more. Not exactly what I would have expected from a person feeling bullied, intimidated, or bribed. In fact, I’ve had more spirited conversations of my own with Marshall about politics, and I don’t recall either one of us calling the police and alleging bullying, intimidation, or bribery. I’ll have to keep that option in mind for next time!

    I obviously have no idea where the idea to file a grievance against Marshall and the others came from, but I’m pretty sure it didn’t come from the recorded meeting. It just doesn’t make sense. And it’s a bit odd to tape a conversation in advance of the comments that supposedly would have motivated someone to tape a conversation. Who is actually running the show here?

    For students who have been happy to go after Ben and Marshall, whatever your motivations, I would really urge you to familiarize yourself with this quote from the Nazi era:

    * First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out– Because I was not a Socialist.
    * Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out– Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
    * Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out– Because I was not a Jew.
    * Then they came for me–and there was no one left to speak for me.
    Anyone who would condemn fellow students on the basis of the kind of “evidence” provided in this tape and this entire proceeding should always be looking over their shoulder, because at some point someone will be coming for them, and there won’t be anyone left to protest. That is of course why we have standards of evidence and due process, two core aspects of our civil society that were notably absent in this case, as the ability to now listed to the recordings makes abundantly clear.

    This whole mess could have been nipped in the bud when it became clear that this was about politics and personal animosities and not about wrongdoing rising to any sort of “criminal” behavior. But the UO administration intentionally stayed out of the process, apparently not even paying attention to what was going to the extent of reading the various documents and rulings. All under the guise of ASUO autonomy. Yet now that ASUO seems to be imploding, who will win? Probably the Administration, which from my understanding of the politics would love to nip the ASUO’s wings. One hates to think that the Administration could have been so Machiavellian to let this get out of control with such an outcome in mind, but it is perplexing why students were simply left to be hung by mob rule.

    • Mac Ehlen says:

      Mr. Trexler,
      I have to say that you are wrong about a lot of things.

      “This entire Lord of the Flies process at UO all goes back to the original grievance, which was accepted as fact by the students running the Election Board, and which forms the basis for the supposed “conviction” of multiple students.”

      The board never accepted anything as “fact”. In fact, there were multiple problems we found with the grievance. We made our ruling based on the evidence that was given to us in hearings and statements from all parties involved. If you feel that your son is innocent, why did he resign from Mighty Oregon and state that he had “gone over the line”?

      The board had heard rumors that a recording of the dorm room conversation existed; however, no recording was ever provided to us or used throughout the process. It is a flat out lie that we had a tape and any statements alleging otherwise should cease.

      I can’t speak to Thomas’s motivation for recording the conversation, but that doesn’t change what was said by Marshall, Ben and Alex. They were scared that Thomas’s candidacy would negatively affect their slate and acted in a way to convince Thomas to end his candidacy. Your son made explicit threats to a Freshman and his fraternity in order to get him to drop out of a student government election. Thomas’s girlfriend was even told that she would not be able to rush her sorority if Thomas continued to run. Your son tried to bribe Thomas with a slate position on Ben’s campaign, and when Thomas did not accept, Marshall offered members of Thomas’s fraternity a position on the slate to ensure he had DU’s support. At a certain point, you have to ask yourself if all of this was really worth it.

      There were no motivations from the board throughout the proceedings. In fact, I probably would have voted for Ben had this situation not happened. I also do not appreciate being told to look over my shoulder for doing the right thing. You may want to get more information from people on the elections board and con court before you believe everything Ben and Marshall say. You should also think twice about threatening to sue Thomas, when he is the victim. Offering a settlement out of court is ridiculous and will probably be considered blackmail, as a suit has yet to be filed.

      Feel free to contact me if you need another perspective or want to know about the actual process before you insinuate a lack of integrity on our part.

      • Mark Trexler says:

        A couple of quick clarifications:

        1. My note said nothing about the Electoral Board knowing about the tape.
        2. My note said nothing about any suit against Thomas Tullis.
        3. Even the ConCourt threw out the bribery charge you continue to make.

        My note was specifically on the subject of the grievance and how it characterized the originally tape-recorded meeting, and the fact that now we have the tape we can listen for ourselves to see what happened. I have no personal knowledge of the other events and charges swirling around this case, and so tend to keep an open mind, absent evidence to the contrary. I will say that now that we know what transpired in that meeting, and how it was characterized by Thomas and the Electoral Court, one has to be pretty skeptical of the rest of the situations you mention. The two biggest events here were the surreptitious taping of Marshall’s conversation, and the surreptitious taping of the dorm-room conversation. I’ve listened to both very carefully, and the idea that any impartial listener to those tapes would come away concluding that all sorts of nefarious things had happened is just bizarre. Enthusiasm? Yes. Profanity? Yes. Self-righteousness? Yes. Intimidation, harassment, bribery? You can’t be serious.

        I will note that when Marshall returned home for Spring Break, it was the first time my wife and I came to learn anything about this whole mess. Marshall basically handed us the grievance, and your Electoral Board decision. I have to admit that we both pretty much burst out laughing after reading them. The grievance was so weak on its face, and the Electoral Board’s decision so obviously a political document rather than any sort of impartial ruling, that neither of us took it seriously in the least. We didn’t realize that seriously reviewing the case wasn’t seen by the ConCourt as its role, and that the Electoral Board’s decision was basically final (except for the “bribery” charge).

        When you talk about the “evidence” provided to you during the process, it’s always been unclear what that evidence was. You simply restated all of the Thomas’ quotes from the meeting, which was odd to begin with unless Thomas has a photographic memory. But it doesn’t really matter, since the quotes didn’t add up to anything that could reasonably be characterized as “crimes.” Of course they were trying to convince Thomas to end his candidacy. You don’t think everyone tries to convince someone to end their candidacy in the course of an election? Did people get too “House of Cardsy” during this whole process? Probably (and not just Marshall and his team; certainly Thomas did with all of his recordings). Does being House of Cardsy constitute criminal behavior? I hope not, or we’d have a sudden collapse of government at all levels.

        It does seem odd, if my understanding is correct, that with the exception of you the Electoral Board never even talked to Thomas about his grievance. How did the other members of the Board weigh who to believe in a pure “he said – he said” situation if they didn’t talk to one of the Parties? Did anyone ask Tullis why he had recorded the conversation? The grievance doesn’t say anything bad happened in the meeting prior to the recorded conversation (other than “laughing at this candidacy.”) So what possessed Thomas to record the conversation, and to make those noises he does at the very end of the tape? It was obviously a set-up, but why? Did someone hatch the idea that this would be a great way to knock one of the candidates out of the campaign? The Electoral Board should have been very sensitive to these questions in interpreting a “he said – he said” case. But there’s no evidence of that at all in your ruling.

        I guess the newest thing to be making the rounds is that Thomas didn’t even write the grievance. If that’s true, it raises even more questions about the whole case, and what led to the meeting being tape-recorded. And if Thomas didn’t know it was illegal, why didn’t he make hay of the existence of that tape, as he does with respect to the existence of the other tape, which he proudly trumpeted in his grievance. Did someone warn him off that course of action? Who?

        Look, this kind of relatively silly stuff has been going on forever. It certainly was when I was in college, and that’s been a while. What’s different today is that it’s not just pretend anymore. It’s not just a bunch of teenagers (or very recently teenagers) feeling their adult oats. Nothing goes away anymore. If you’re suspended from school at age 3, it’s likely to show up in your job interview 25 years later. For better or worse that puts more responsibility on all of us to think about the consequences of our actions, particularly when they could have long-term implications for others. It’s a pain, I know, but it’s reality. And that just didn’t happen here at all.

        Regards,

        Dr. Mark C. Trexler (Kosloff)

        • Mark Trexler says:

          In my response just above (which can’t be edited unfortunately) I mistakenly ask “did anyone ask Thomas why he made the recording.” Not the right question since the Board didn’t know about the recording. Apologies for confusing the timelines. The point I was trying to make is that in retrospect, with the tape available, it has become very clear that far more questions should have asked about the original grievance.

        • Mac Ehlen says:

          You are very misinformed of the process…

    • Sam Dotters-Katz, ASUO Presidento says:

      Mr. Trexler,

      Several weeks ago, your son resigned from the ASUO campaign he was working on. In his resignation letter, he admitted to going over the line, and apologized. Your comment in no way mentions the phone call conversation, recorded legally, between your son and the Freshmen Thomas Tullis, or your son’s resignation letter.

      The fact remains, 10 out of 10 members of the student Election Board and student Constitution Court found Presidential Candidate Ben Bowman guilty of the most severe violations in our elections process. 8 out of 10 of those folks agreed that removal from the ballot was the appropriate sanction. After weeks of proceedings all conducted in accordance with ASUO policies, none of which included any use of the in-person audiotape, these decisions were made.

      At this point, the administration decided to overturn the decision with basically no explanation. In response, a majority of the ASUO Senate and the ASUO Executive have pledged to continue holding elections in the appropriate manner as our policies dictate. We have several sources of authority based on our Clark Document, which clearly give us the right to do so, including the following:

      Clark Document Section C, second paragraph:

      The ASUO shall be responsible for conducting its own elections in accordance with the ASUO Constitution, and the results of such elections shall be considered as an official expression of student opinion.
      Section B, first paragraph:

      The University of Oregon acknowledges the right of recognized student government, in exercise of its delegated power and through its constitution, to elect a body to make incidental fee recommendations to the OSBHE.

      What is most sad, yet not uncommon, is when parents of power and privilege do whatever they can to help their children avoid accountability. You say your son did nothing wrong. Perhaps you should listen to all the evidence, and ask your son why he himself wrote that resignation letter and admitted to going over the line. This should be a learning experience for folks, especially those admitting guilt publicly like your son.

      Finally, your comments about students involved in this process needing to look over their shoulder is not well taken.

      Sincerely,

      Sam Dotters-Katz
      ASUO President

      • Mark Trexler says:

        Mr. Dotters-Katz,

        I don’t wan’t to go overboard here since I just responded in detail to Mac Ehlen’s comment. Just a couple of things since it seems so easy for folks to make incorrect assertions:

        1. I never said Marshall never did anything wrong. I frankly don’t know whether he did or not. The only thing I am commenting on is the process by which he and others were found guilty of “crimes.” The “case” simply doesn’t exist, by any plausible standard of jurisprudence or evidence.

        2. As far as I know Marshall’s resignation letter doesn’t admit to any crimes. You simply can’t use a letter like that, in which someone admits to “crossing the line,” to suggest criminal behavior. Again, we’d be short a lot of CEOs and politicians.

        3. I didn’t comment on the second tape because it wasn’t relevant to the post. Have you read that transcript? Where could one possible infer illegal activity? Even the ConCourt felt obliged to throw out the bribery charge on the basis that “everyone does” what was being done in that phone call.

        4. Since everyone freaks about quoting Niemoller, let me switch to George Orwell. To say that Marshall “publically admitted guilt,” and was therefore right to be convicted to crimes, is simply Orwellian.

        While I won’t argue that most of the people involved in this case probably did grow up in what by most definitions would be considered “privilege,” the real question here is one of justice and integrity. Justice was not served the ASUO process. And I will note in closing that in following this process over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been struck by one thing in particular. While Marshall and Ben have been accused over and over and over of bullying and everything that goes along with that, none of that is evident in any of their behavior as reflected in the documents or the proceedings. I’m not weighing in on what they might have done previously – I simply wasn’t there. But I have been struck by the viciousness with which you personally seem to be going after them. In post after post, quote after quote, proposed investigations, threats to withdraw funding from the College Democrats, it seems to always be you waving the red flag. Why? As the President of ASUO I would have thought your role would be one of more moderation.

        Sincerely,

        Dr. Mark C. Trexler (Kosloff)

        • writecide of daforce says:

          Dr Trexler,

          You clearly do not understand how UO admin do business. Right or wrong, they care not. Retain a lawyer first, you must, if you wish the force to be on your side.

        • Mark Trexler says:

          Me again. Realizing that I didn’t want to add to the hyperbole, I retract the word “viciousness” above. I don’t know you Mr. Dotters-Katz, and I don’t know what Marshall or Ben might have done in the past to deserve the anger you’ve been demonstrating. But I do think “anger” is a better word, even though I will still admit to not understanding its place in your role as ASUO President.

  8. uomatters says:

    Thanks for this breath of rationality, Mr. Trexler. FWIW I don’t know much more than what I read in the Emerald. My main concern is how in the world the UO Police ended up jailing a UO student over this.

  9. History Prof says:

    We really owe the Nazi’s a big thank-you, for without their horrible impact on our history we would not have anyone to compare our petty politics. Where would we be without at least one reference to Nazi’s, or the Bill of Rights, in each and every discussion on this blog?

  10. Youngin' says:

    I haven’t thought about this enough, but I would think the admin was on super shaky legal grounds with all of this.

    1. The ASUO is not part of the UO. It is a separate corporation with By Laws and the right to conduct its own elections. Randy Geller is not the ASUOs lawyer–and it is a clear violation of legal ethics for him to claim he is. Robin Holmes has no authority over the ASUO. Sam has made this case already, but it is worth repeating.

    2. Arresting a student? Really?
    a. First off all, does anyone think that the admins reading of ORS 165.540 would stand up to first amendment scrutiny? I say this with all due respect to History Prof’s invocation of Godwin’s law–but a student was arrested and the legality of that arrest is now a question. I understand the recording happened in the students dorm room–if that is not his “home” than it is a public space. Recording in public is probably protected by the first amendment…although the case law is still murky on this…
    b. The arrest seems to be politically motivated. If it isn’t corrupt it at least gives the appearance of corruption.
    c. 165.540 is super selectively applied. Remember the snow ball incident? Further evidence that this is atempted political intimidation of students by a school administrators
    d. My reading of ORS 339.362 makes the arrest illegal if the student believed he was being bullied
    “339.362 Retaliation against victims and witnesses prohibited; school employee immunity. (1) A school employee, student or volunteer may not engage in reprisal or retaliation against a victim of, witness to or person with reliable information about an act of harassment, intimidation or bullying or an act of cyberbullying. 
    (2) A school employee, student or volunteer who witnesses or has reliable information that a student has been subjected to an act of harassment, intimidation or bullying or an act of cyberbullying is encouraged to report the act to the appropriate school official designated by the school district’s policy”
    although it is an interesting statutory interpretation question if ORS 339 applies to the UO
    e. Regardless of ORS 339, recording bullying is protected self defense–a common law right recognized as inalienable by such cases as Cross v. State (Wyoming) and more recently as part of the justification of DC vs Heller.
    d. It is *clearly* his “home” and the fact that he was arrested anyway suggest a brazen disregard for the law and student rights. The housing contract https://housing.uoregon.edu/pdfs/UOHousing_RH_Contract_2013-14.pdf?20140408085241 refers to the rooms “residents” are assigned as “their room”–the word “their” is telling. Residents “reside” in the residence hall–and are *required* to do so! The clearest passage though is “It is the residents’ responsibility to keep their Rooms locked at all times” in the section on liability.

    Usual disclaimer: no part of this comment should be taken to be legal advice.

    • uomatters says:

      Thanks for this substantive comment. I am still trying to find out who authorized this arrest, and I will post that information when I get it. And if the administration won’t tell me, I’ll post details on that instead.

  11. Youngin' says:

    Also: I want to make clear. I have no opinion as to ASUO elections or if any bullying/intimidation by students took place. I just think that the UO arresting a freshman for making a recording in his dorm room is extremely problematic and probably illegal. Like, who ever made that call should probably be fired…or at least apologize.

    • curious says:

      Completely agree.
      So why is there a deafening silence on this episode? Is the RG too preoccupied with it’s new section lay-outs and selective color photos to make comment on a student, probably the first, to be arrested by the new UOPD? Isn’t anyone “out there” concerned about this beyond students and this blog?? What about Betsy Hammond and the O .. how about some MORE light on this subject?

  12. “Completely agree.
    So why is there a deafening silence on this episode? Is the RG too preoccupied with it’s new section lay-outs and selective color photos to make comment on a student, probably the first, to be arrested by the new UOPD? Isn’t anyone “out there” concerned about this beyond students and this blog?? What about Betsy Hammond and the O .. how about some MORE light on this subject?”

    The Baker family, the owners of the R-G, are firmly in the UO pocket. I don’t think that is a secret.