In the Eugene Weekly, here. Some snippets:
The University of Oregon is on the verge of losing one of its only professors who studies race and the criminal justice system within a social justice framework.
Ironically, this is happening at a historic moment of national crisis, where anti-Black violence is not only rampant but newly visible, where multi-racial coalitions all across the nation are demanding justice, and where leading scholar-activists have an enormous role to play in helping us understand a way forward. Professor Michael Hames-García is a national leader in the study of race, incarceration and policing. He has been teaching and institution building at the UO since 2005, and he has earned two of the UO’s most prestigious research and teaching excellence awards. …
The UO Makes Excuses and Undermines Activist Scholars of Color
We often hear white faculty and administrators at the UO say that the UO can’t recruit and retain top ranking faculty of color because they don’t want to live in Oregon.
The irony of this statement is that Oregon is Hames-García’s home. This is where he grew up, this is where his extended family currently lives, and this is where he would continue to maintain his active commitments to community development. He will be forced to split his time between a job in one state and his life’s work in another precisely because the UO administration refuses to admit that its commitments to racial justice, at this historical moment, remain thin. They are rhetorical gestures that allow the administration to claim to value racial justice at the same time that they actively undermine justice in practice.
… In 2002, the university signed a racial discrimination settlement, known as the Joe Wade settlement agreement, that established a number of affirmative action requirements, among them a promise to conduct exit interviews of all faculty and staff of color leaving the UO. To this date, those exit interviews do not happen. Many faculty of color have left in just the past five years, so many that we have lost count, and we have yet to see university accountability measures that take stock of why these faculty left and what their experiences were.
Faculty of color have nowhere to go with complaints of racial bias, hostility or discrimination. We used to have an Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity. At a time when a large group of faculty of color reported a systematic experience of racialized harm by a white dean, the university fired the affirmative action officer overseeing the complaints.
Notably, that officer was the only woman of color to ever hold that position. She also happened to have made comments that sounded supportive of the faculty union. Once fired, faculty of color were diverted to a newly restructured system of “Investigations and Civil Rights Compliance,” which was overseen by a hand-picked former UO law school graduate. Does any of this sound familiar?
Charise Cheney, Lynn Fujiwara, Brian Klopotek, Sharon Luk and Ernesto Martínez are associate professors in the UO Department of Indigenous, Race, and Ethnic Studies.