Library committee starts contest for art to counter insipid, racist mission statement

5/7/2018 update: Because the best response to speech you hate is more speech. The Daily Emerald has the story here. The website for the contest is here:

The University of Oregon Libraries invites UO students to participate in a juried art exhibition that will showcase creative expressions of the culture we aspire to have.

Deadline to submit work: August 10, 2018

The exhibit will take place in Knight Library, October 15, 2018 – March 15, 2019.

This exhibit is part of the continuing dialogue of how we can strive for an inclusive environment while preserving evidence of a past which speaks to the contrary. Art can be a powerful force for empowerment and change.

For this exhibit, we are seeking original works of art that express an inclusive, respectful culture that counters the world view depicted in the Knight Library murals. We invite participants to contribute works of art that reflect on issues of identity, gender and race equality, age, sexual orientation, ability, social justice, and privilege. …

What a great idea. $1350 in prize money.

12/7/2017: Students want to remove insipid, racist UO Mission Statement from library wall

The Daily Emerald has the story here:

The petition is here. It focuses on the part about “… conservation and betterment … of our racial heritage…”, which at the time was the language of eugenics, racist immigration policies, and forced sterilization –  the death camps came soon after. Personally, I’m in favor of leaving the thing up as a warning to our students and the future, but only after giving UO’s History and English faculty a crack at it with a ladder and a fat red marker. Here’s my attempt:

Update: More about the history of Sociology at UO, none of it unkind to Prof Young, here.

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14 Responses to Library committee starts contest for art to counter insipid, racist mission statement

  1. James K. Walsh says:

    Professor Clarence “Clancy” Thurber was a way better mentor and friend to students without being “in your face” for having a divergent opinion. Glad the faculty lounge is named for him. He did a lot to reassure me during difficult times as an undergraduate student.

  2. bibliophile says:

    Is this like banning books in a library?? I thought libraries were there to preserve… not remove the past.

    • uomatters says:

      No, it’s not like banning books. It’s like putting the Nazi schwag Dad brought back from WWII in a trunk down in the basement instead of leaving it out on the coffee table during parties. That said I still favor the red marker.

  3. James K. Walsh says:

    I appreciated the link to the history of the sociology department and it brought back memories. My first class in 1975, SOC 101, was with Prof Albert Syzmanski. I didn’t quite know what to think. He was a Marxist and I thought a communist to boot. I wasn’t sure I could take four years of indoctrination by such radical professors were I to get them in sequence. Standing up to him in class was a real challenge and you did so at your own peril. I got a “gentleman’s “C”” and was glad when it was over. By the end of my freshman year my reaction to all this leftist dialog was to join the ROTC program. It probably did help me figure out who I was politically and socially. Sadly, he killed himself in 1985.

    • honest Uncle Bernie says:

      Ah, the Republicans should realize that not a few conservatives got their start on the road from left to right as a result of their experiences of leftist professors and assorted goings on at American campuses.

      Too bad about this professor and the end he came to.

    • James K. Walsh says:

      Prof. Syzmanski’s publications included : “Is the Red Flag Flying?” and “The Capitalist State and the Politics of Class”. I did not feel there was much free speech in his classroom. This was a tough time on campus for many reasons.

    • alefty says:

      Al’s political dogma affiliation aside, my direct experience with Al’s extreme misogyny would fit very well with today’s administration.

  4. honest Uncle Bernie says:

    Since he apparently continued as Dean long after UO had its first black employee and students, he wasn’t very successful in his “mission” if it meant to exclude blacks.

    Has anyone done any research whatsoever on this guy to find out what he really believed? Most of the values in his mission statement sound pretty good to me, better than some of the values UO practices nowadays. (Opportunity to the lowliest?)

    I could read “betterment of our racial heritage” to refer to our common heritage as members of the human race. Perhaps he was referring to better segregation or Ku Klux Klan at UO or something like that, but somehow that doesn’t sound right.

    Before rushing to condemn this guy as a “racist” and throwing him down the memory hole, perhaps it would be better to find out a smidgeon about him?

    • uomatters says:

      Follow the link at the bottom, for a start. Grades are due Monday, submit your report Friday for full consideration. Bonus points if you can find the minutes of the meeting at which the Faculty Assembly voted to approve this Mission Statement.

  5. Conservative Duck says:

    It’s OK to be white.

  6. Anas clypeata says:

    I love that you left the word “men” unhighlighted. Men need transforming more than ever.

    • uomatters says:

      I left it in because I think “does not stop short of transforming men” is pretty good language for a university policy these days. Maybe the Senate should include it in the new policy on sexual harassment!

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