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UO Pioneer Father & Mother statues toppled from pedestals, as UO awaits new talking points from Pres Schill’s PR Flacks

Update: These two photos were both taken by Andrew Nelson, a photojournalist for the RG. The first is from Bagdad in 2003, just before a US Marine vehicle pulled down Saddam Hussein’s statue. The second is from Eugene, today, from this RG report.

I’m posting them as a reminder that removing statues is a start, not an end.

Update: From the Daily Emerald here:

… “A university spokesperson could not be reached in time for publication.”

Someone really should alert the “Univ Communications – Storyteller Team” at [email protected]

6/13/2020: From Rachael McDonald at KLCC. 20 minutes and I’m still waiting for someone to leak the talking points from President Schill’s PR flacks on this:

(Note: McDonald has since tweeted a correction to the statement this was done by BIOPIC members)


  1. Townie 06/13/2020

    The statue is a metaphor for our pioneering spirit. Like the US Constitution it shouldn’t be interpreted literally.

    Maybe the students should desecrate your granddaddy’s grave for his “crimes against humanity”.

    • honest Uncle Bernie 06/14/2020

      Don’t be so quick to put it on students.

    • Another thought 06/16/2020

      Actually historical context matters. Reinterpreting historical monuments and giving them new metaphors is a form of historical revisionism.

      I still believe they shouldn’t have been removed by students but I won’t shed a tear.

      UO needs to do more to recognize the indigenous community and their history. Compare Oregon to our Washington State and British Columbia counterparts…

  2. Townie 06/13/2020

    I’m not trying to whitewash Oregon’s history but is it possible the Pioneer was a fur trader who participated in voluntary exchange with the natives, and not some sort of genocidal maniac?

    • uomatters Post author | 06/13/2020

      Quite possible. Also possible he’d be embarrassed to be associated with the genocide, and happier resting in some quiet spot over in the cemetery.

        • anon and on and on 06/14/2020

          Proctor described the image he wanted to project, of a man who was “rugged, calm, and an Indian killer.” So the sculptor very specifically *intended* to evoke the genocidal element. The people who want to say ‘it’s a metaphor, he was a fur trader, it’s uplifting’ no, Proctor did not intend that. See Marc Carpenter’s comments, based in his research, here:

        • anon and on and on 06/15/2020

          For anyone still reading, the full Oregon Heritage report by Carpenter has changed links, and I got the new one this morning. It’s very thorough and careful, and anyone who thinks that purpose and intent don’t matter in this really should read it all the way through. At the very least, you’ll gain an understanding of why people reasonably find the statues so problematic.

            • Honor Complexity 06/15/2020

              Good to know, but what’s the deal with attacking the pioneer mother. It’s 0he “pioneer” thing, isn’t it? Well, God damn, it’s time for a good old fashion art, cinema, and book burning. Which of you good faculty will join me? It’s the only good and decent thing to do: purge all of our Oregon Trail landmarks across the state. And then when you’ve cleansed my history, yours is next. Then we both lose connections to the past, whether good, bad, or indifferent. Maybe you think that’s good. I think it’s treating me with infantile disrespect, and our students, too.

              Slippery slope much, you’re thinking? Damn straight. We’re living through one slip and slide of a slippery slope right now (see: Whittier, California, where this week John Greenleaf Whittier’s statue was defaced, presumably for being guilty looking like one of the bad guys, when in fact he was one of the good guys — wait, don’t tell me, you’ve discovered some skeletons in his closet, too? Well, shiiittt).

              • Another thought 06/15/2020

                Reinterpreting historical monuments and giving them new metaphors is a form of historical revisionism.

                • uomatters Post author | 06/16/2020

                  I’m no historian, but my father was. I think he’d have asked “Do you believe there has ever been any other form of history? Explain.”

  3. J. Jonah Jameson 06/13/2020

    The tweet you screenshotted is incorrect – the statues were taken down by a separate group, not the BIPOC Liberation Collective. Rachael McDonald posted a correction.

    • uomatters Post author | 06/13/2020

      “Civilization will not attain perfection until the last stone from the last church falls on the last priest.” Emile Zola (attributed). And I suppose I should add Voltaire’s “The perfect is the enemy of the good”.

    • honest Uncle Bernie 06/14/2020

      We know how things turned out in both those places, don’t we.

  4. charlie 06/13/2020

    Haven’t been on your campus for quite some time. What did they do with the statute of another Pioneer Father, Bill Bowerman??

    • uomatters Post author | 06/13/2020

      Bada boom.

  5. uomatters Post author | 06/13/2020

    UO has now made An Official Statement. Apparently this vandalism was the work of a quick acting campus committee, which President Schill appointed just this week:

    Just this week, President Michael Schill recommended that the Board of Trustees dename Deady Hall and announced to the University Senate that he was asking a campus committee to look at whether statues or monuments on campus, including two Pioneer statues, should be removed. …
    Just kidding, that’s moot. This will be the second iteration of this committee that Pres Schill has formed. The charge of the first one, in 2017, was carefully written so as to prevent it from considering removing these statues:

  6. Peter Keyes 06/14/2020

    i can’t believe that these two statues have been toppled, while the bronze Duck, the symbol of corporate hegemony engulfing academia, is still standing.

    • uomatters Post author | 06/14/2020


  7. Environmental necessity 06/14/2020

    Well, that will lower tuition and strike a mighty blow at systemic racism!

    Also, so grateful we spend a ton on UOPD so they can rapidly respond to campus events. It understandable though how they missed this one happening in the middle of the afternoon.

    • honest Uncle Bernie 06/14/2020

      It was early evening, but yeah, not exactly on the ball.

    • Anonymous 06/14/2020

      Would you rather have UOPD used force to stop the events from occurring? According to KLCC, the people who did this came to the event with the necessary tools. They had a plan to carry it out.

      UOPD made the correct choice of not engaging or using force, and dealing with property damage later.

      • honest Uncle Bernie 06/15/2020

        Are you saying UOPD knew this was about to happen, and didn’t stop it?

  8. honest Uncle Bernie 06/14/2020

    When UO is begging the financially squeezed state not to cut funding, I am sure the state will look on this with approval.

    I’m sure these barbarians will be the first to “protest” if 50 more adjuncts lose their jobs.

    Oh, and will the Oregon and the California and all the other students be drawn here by this? Another 500 enrollment drop will certainly be welcome.

    To really honor the cause, perhaps we should just leave the whole state.

    • Townie 06/14/2020

      Everyone should leave the state (except Native Americans and African Americans).

      Oregon State is guilty of systemic racism. The Oregon Democrats are guilty of the same sin.

      Re-name, re-brand, re-create.

      Just Do It

      • Honor Complexity 06/15/2020

        You know that will never happen so why go there even if in jest? The fact is we have to learn to live with each other. These violent and undemocratic actions are only serving to alienate and even galvanize the general public further. The vast majority of people never recognized or celebrated the pioneer mother as a symbol of genocidal oppression. Nor was it established to be such a symbol. This is beyond ridiculous as was Harboughs suggestion that it should be clandestinely and illegally removed a year ago. Words change. Symbols morph their meaning to us. You simply cannot make a cogent case that these were active symbols of oppression on campus. Now ironically it is i and other alumni who feel unwelcome here. Well done if that was the goal.

        • honest Uncle Gangsta 06/15/2020

          Well said. And I hope you let Schill, the trustees, your legislators, and the governor know how you feel. Including about UO’s groveling reaction (“we do not condone…”)

        • William 06/15/2020

          In a different time and place, these thoughtful remarks would move people. In a different time and place, the U would follow the open procedures for decision-making that the President laid out. In a different time and place, educated people would have a more complex understanding of history and art. In a different time and place, we could speak openly, in our own voices, about what is happening. But that is not our time or place. The President has been defeated by the criminals who took down the statues. He has lost. He loses more almost daily. His latest letter is one of the saddest things I have ever read. We have to look carefully for what remains, what is threatened, what we can save–and for what we can do to strengthen and protect our students as they try to navigate these treacherous times.

    • charlie 06/15/2020

      The flagship’s transgressions have long been chronicled on this here blog. Maybe you missed the fact that Moody’s gave your school a negative rating. That indicates the business model and instituional administration aren’t any good. So, why would the state give you folks any more resources? You’re not doing the job as it is. Further, why would any sentient potential admit consider a school that has sacrificed academic quality to fund marketing gimmicks and athletic promotion?

      For god’s sakes, man, the flagship’s collapse transcends anything to do with statutes. This isn’t even mentioning the economic collapse many of their families are enduring. Given all of that, why would you expect students to enroll or return? Your undergrads aren’t amorphous tuition cattle. Everything has changed, and what many have taken for granted is gone. The Life Of The Mind ain’t what it used to be…,

  9. Sadness 06/14/2020

    History has many examples of such destruction: iconoclasm, damnatio memoriae, the recent destruction of Palmyra, also come to mind. Paradoxically, the result is often rather to elevate the reputation of the persons and figures even if the physical appearance demolished.

  10. Confused 06/14/2020

    Surprised by all the thumbs downs on certain comments. Are that many of you really dismayed by the dismantling of these symbols of virulent genocidal squatters?

    • Environmental necessity 06/14/2020

      I have long thought they should be removed to the museum or the cemetary. They are odious symbols of genocide to me and many others. But there are lots of things I and others might find objectionable and I dont think the answer is to round up my friends and deface or destroy whatever I don’t like.

      • Ellie 06/15/2020

        I agree with your opinion of the statues. Putting them in the cemetery is an interesting option, perhaps one that could have been pursued had the administration listened to and cared about the voices of students. I don’t agree that this was just defacing/destroying what isn’t liked: this issue had been presented to UO admin for years and dismissed. In the spirit of recent protests & takedowns of Confederate statues, this group decided to make a statement. Notice that they did not vandalize any buildings or hurt any people: they took down a symbol of oppression and laid it at the University’s door to decide what to do next. I’m probably old enough to be the parent of those that took it down, and I am proud of them. I wish the UO would stand up for its students and show some bravery in not only denouncing racism/oppression but actually putting its money where its mouth is.

  11. honest Uncle Bernie 06/14/2020

    Are you a squatter yourself? Then put your money where your mouth is. Leave.

  12. Vernon Doziere 06/14/2020

    Okay then. Let’s see how many wealthy business leaders with UO diplomas are willing to write that Development check this year.
    I know that Shill has taken a fat 10% pay cut, and is somehow willing to live on about $450,000/month. But the big donors see these statues as iconic and representative of their fundamental educational experience. Mike might want to get his agent ready for a cool change …

    • Environmental necessity 06/15/2020

      Do you have any evidence, at all, that wealthy business leaders who are alumni view those statues as “iconic and representative of their fundamental educational experience?”

    • Anas clypeata 06/15/2020

      I am wealthy (in a relative way) and have a UO diploma (somewhere). To me, the Pioneer sculpture represented the Simpsons first, and genocide second. People asked nicely for many years, and the administration didn’t listen. The salmon have come home to roost. My donations to the UO will remain unchanged, because I value the education that I received and want to make it available to others.

      • Old Gray Mare 06/15/2020

        Thank you for “the salmon have come home to roost.” That made my day.

  13. eugenenative 06/14/2020

    They belong in a quiet spot in the on-campus graveyard. The Pioneer Cemetery.

  14. G Garmon 06/15/2020

    Looks like they have already been scooped up and stored someplace safe until a decision can be made. I would have liked to see UO’s leadership involve themselves in the cleanup – the PR would have been pure gold. Can you imagine a picture of President Schill with a few trustees wearing hard hats in the rain while attaching chain and strapping to the fallen monument upon the steps of Oregon Hall. Can Schill drive a forklift? I bet he can. It makes me wonder though, “where these things end up?” Where is Saddam Hussein statue?

    I think they they should be melted down and re-cast into mini bronze awards that can be given out to a yearly recipient of, “University of Oregon Civil Disobedience Award.”

    If they go to the cemetery I hope they are six feet under. If they are put back up I hope president Schill and other leadership are there for the hoisting and ribbon cutting.

    • AnotherClassified 06/15/2020

      Umm…. can’t … operate a forklift should be assumed. But that’s a training thing. The genesis of the sculptures are racist and it’s appropriate to see them removed. Nonetheless it happened – much sooner rather than later. Social action may not always be “pretty”

    • Anas clypeata 06/15/2020

      I suspect that operating fork lifts on the UO campus is SEIU union work. The last thing Mr. Schill needs is a union grievance on top of everything else.

  15. New Year Cat 06/15/2020

    Will this degenerate into culture wars? Will we now see the sculpture on the east side of the EMU vandalized in its turn?

  16. worried professor 06/15/2020

    I wonder why those kinds of acts of senseless vandalism do not occur at good universities? Such as Ivy League schools for example. Maybe with 85% acceptance rate we get a lot of intellectually challenged students some of whom are prone to do stupid things? Or, maybe we teach them stupid things? It is difficult to tighten admission standards for financial reasons, but at the very least expel those who did this, if they were students, of course

      • Dog 06/15/2020

        The consumer attitude toward higher education started long before “2016”. It got greatly exacerbated here in 2008 when the decision was made to let many more students enroll in the University than we had qualified faculty to teach them in reasonably sized classes (40 or less). At that point the UO became a) another community college and b) turned into a student processing facility.

        Yes research continued but on a national scale we became less and less competitive, our graduate student population remained flat, as did our funding profile.

        Of course, either the Knight Campus or sold-out football games at Autzen will rescue us, in some direction

    • Inquiring minds 06/19/2020

      Wow. Check your assumptions and racist/classist linking of academic scores and the “vandals”. Not very academic you to write them off as senseless just because their experience of history is contrary to the Anglo Saxon pioneer dream.
      How would you like to walk by statutes of McCarthy. Hitter. Mussolini?

      • Worried professor 06/19/2020

        Comparing Pioneer Morher to Hitler? What? BTW, intentionally destrying property is a Class C felony in Oregon. Are you defending those who commited felony?

        • uomatters Post author | 06/19/2020

          They seem to be fully capable of doing their good work without my help, but yes if they are caught and charged I will donate to defend them in court.

          • Worried professor 06/20/2020

            You are a fine man. God bless you!

  17. zach 06/15/2020

    The entire athletic dept is a growing list of monuments celebrating slave labor money and nobody touches any of that junk.

  18. Publius 06/15/2020

    Maybe the contributors here, especially those that are long term faculty like me, could show a little humility on this topic.

    I came to the University of Oregon 40 years ago. It seems to me that by every metric the situation with racial diversity has not improved at all since that time. At the same time, for all these years, we have heard claims from the administration that they take this issue very seriously, that they want to improve it, etc. My impression has been that, at least publicly, most faculty have agreed with this perspective.

    But, given the reality of utter failure, it strikes me is quite reasonable that younger people would conclude that those who run the university are totally full of shit.

    My own view is that responsibility begins at the top. Our top administrators are paid a great deal of money. It seems to me that, if they believe what they say about the importance of this issue, they could’ve figured out some way to make at least some progress in the last four decades. Instead they hand off the whole issue to one, rather ineffective office of diversity — which faculty then make fun of. This is rather like Trump handing off the pandemic issue to governors down the line. It ensures that nothing happens, while shielding them from all responsibility. So another decade passes, and everything stays the same.

    I actually believe diversifying the campus is a very difficult thing to do. It is certainly above my pay grade: but it is squarely within the pay grade of those who earn half a million to a million dollars a year supposedly providing “leadership”. If I earned that much, and if my efforts—on a matter I said was of vital importance—were achieving absolutely nothing, I would wonder what I was being paid for.

    As I said, I think the young people protesting have every reason to believe that the U of O is fraudulent on this issue. Yes, tearing down statues doesn’t make anything better. But let’s acknowledge that nothing the rest of the university has done has made anything better either.

    So I would like to hear from all those posting here who are so bent out of shape about the frustrations of young people – – what would YOU propose to do to address the diversity issue? You are all crystal clear on what you would not do. What WOULD you do?

    • Dog 06/15/2020

      I think you need to create real incentives and disrupt the sense of equity as well as to educate your self institutionally on how to genuinely create a broader applicant pool but there would be so much objection to the first suggestion that this would never fly.

      I find that UO in particular is not very accepting of a “targets of opportunity” approach – yes there are some downsides but I think this is the only way to achieve critical mass that helps sustain momentum.

      It would be useful to hear from some objective professor in the Law School on how their faculty diversification efforts have played out over the last 20 years and whether or not that has resulted in measurable differences in the diversity of their student population.

      • If we cared it would get done 06/15/2020

        Why does someone else have to come up with ‘real incentives’? Good faculty don’t need incentives to figure out how to stay on top of their research field or do other things to keep up with the times. Why does making the effort to diversify their departments require orders from above? Why must it be someone else’s job?

        • Dog 06/15/2020

          It’s not “someone else” its the institution. Staying on “top” of one’s research field is largely at the whim of various federal funding agencies with little to no institutional back up at this University to sustain momentum in research during federal funding lapses.
          Those universities that do that, for instance, are providing the kind of real incentives need to recruit “good” faculty.

          • If we cared it would get done 06/15/2020

            Nope. I don’t rely on the institution to create the applicant pool for my department. I rely on my colleagues. I rely on my colleagues to care about their future and build networks and create an atmosphere that attracts great candidates. I rely on them to not insult diverse candidates. I rely on them to maintain a department community that is welcoming and not destructive. I also rely on the administrators to help my department when my department has found and wants to successfully recruit an outstanding diverse candidate. But I don’t blame the institution when my department can’t develop and attract those candidates. Nor do I blame Oregon’s racial history or a statue here or there. That would be insulting to the talents of my colleagues, should they choose to apply them.

            • Dog 06/16/2020

              and what departments will create the applicant pool for the Knight Campus?

    • worried professor 06/15/2020

      I would NOTHING about diversity. Period. It is an impossible task to accomplish despite all of the declarations, and even creating some nonsensical office with an overpaid admin at the helm. The reason why all those attempts failed is because talented people of color have offers of admissions from places which are way better academically than the UO. Same applies to faculty. I am no economist, but this is how the market works. So, the only way to attract more quality people of all colors is to invest into making the UO to be a better, more prominent, and more competitive university. This is the task that the overpaid UO leadership failed miserably at. This is now a third rate non-competitive school, which only makes news when its not so smart students destroy university property or when its enslaved students throw and catch the ball better than some other enslaved students from Alabama. So, what I would do would be to bring in real academic leaders with vision and stamina to advance this place, and I would get rid of those jokes that are running this place now.

      • uomatters Post author | 06/15/2020

        And how much would you be willing to pay these new real academic leaders?

        • worried professor 06/16/2020

          I would hire you as a “half price provost”, and hire a prominent, visionary president for fundraising and vision for whatever money it takes. A former senator, secretary or something of that magnitude. It is clear that a mediocre real estate lawyer is not fit for the job. I would allow all student athletes to get paid by having their own agents and endorsements. The university would take a 50% cut, and help cover the admin. In a nutshell every students athlete can become its own “startup”, and the university licenses “technology” (its brand) as to they do to spin off companies. There are multiple other things I would do to make this university better, but this would be an easy start.

          • IDK 06/16/2020

            Why do university presidents have to be the CGH (Chief Glad Hander) these days? Do we not have an entire private unaffiliated trust with property, salaries, cars, lawyers, guns, and money to do that? I mean couldn’t they just rent actual celebrities to wine and dine and make it rain? The last time we had leadership (good or bad) was probably in the days of Frohnmayer when Mosley seemed to be the one actually at the helm. Wasn’t the independent board supposed to be stacked with billionaires sliding thousands of hundred bands across the table… to the foundation?

            With all the top admin expected to chase dollars, and shared governance a farce, who is steering the ship? PR and the chief of staff?

            • Fishwrapper 06/17/2020


            • Worried professor 06/17/2020

              Like. I miss John at the helm. I miss Joe at CAS. I miss Dave. He did not hesitate to crash students’ protests against Nike – WRC ordeal. I miss Bill Clinton. Maybe, I am just getting old. But the fact those students responsible for destruction of public property have not been arrested yet is outrageous.

  19. NoLongerABurntOutGradStudent 06/16/2020

    This is awesome. Seeing these statues toppled really brings me joy in these shitty times. Maybe things really will change for the better.

  20. Anonymous 06/17/2020

    Let’s follow the chest beating, statue-destroying narrative
    to its logical (and intellectually inevitable) conclusion.

    Given that the State of Oregon was stolen from the native American people who lived here prior to the western expansion of the mid-to-late 1800’s, please take ACTUAL STEPS (rather than just mouthing platitudes or vandalizing statues) to begin to make that right.

    1. If you own a home or business (or, perhaps, a university campus) here in Eugene, please give it “back” to representatives of a local native tribe and relocate to your own “homeland,” wherever that may be (don’t know where that is, but it sure isn’t here).

    This would be true for all UO people – or at least all those who are NOT First Nations people of this area.

    That includes those who are White, Black, Hispanic, Asian, etc.

    That includes Trump-hugging Conservatives, all the proudly liberal Biden/Bernie bros, the staunchly indecisive people of no party affiliation, and the apathetic who simply can’t bother to grid up yet one more ballot for dog catcher and fifty ballot measures.

    You’re outa here. All of you. You’re outa here too. Yep, you.

    What we now call Oregon is really ONLY for the descendants of those who ORIGINALLY lived here, not for those who may have somehow made it to the state, and then some how worked hard in a mistaken effort to create farms and businesses and homes and lives and families here. Just. Walk. Away. Please. We’re breaking up. It’s not me, it’s you. Private property means nothing.

    2. While an important first step, returning native lands is NOT enough.




    You’ll all heard of the effort to get reparations for slaves brought to America? Well, what of reparations for all the native Americans killed during the “settlement” of what’s now called Oregon? All the loss of productive use since then?

    So let’s be fair: as you leave the state and relinquish your real estate, please also surrender your personal property, your bank accounts and your stock market accounts, and any other assets you may have accumulated while unlawfully occupying land you took from its rightful owners.

    Oh, and please don’t forget to turn off the lights on the way out. We won’t be leaving a light on for you, no matter what Tom Bodett may say when it comes to Motel 6.

  21. Anonymous 06/18/2020

    #defundthePRFlacks? Really? Please change to something less tone deaf, and relinquish your “Half Price Provost” title as well. Geez.

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