Press "Enter" to skip to content

Univ uses big-time football to recruit students, then complains when they act like drunken football fans

Interim President Phillips does not seem to be proposing any actual discipline – because of free-speech rights, or just because “what happens at Autzen stays at Autzen”? Quite the contrast with how Pres Schill dealt with the students who interrupted his state of the university address.

Dear University of Oregon community members,

During Saturday’s football game against Brigham Young University, a small group of fans started a chant that targeted and denigrated members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Meanwhile on the field, both teams were engaged in an exciting game, which itself was preceded by the BYU players graciously honoring the memory of UO football player Spencer Webb. What a shame that the hard work and earnest effort of so many might be overshadowed by the egregious behavior of so few.

Directly harassing someone based on their religious beliefs violates our core value of full inclusion as a university. I am grateful that the Oregon Pit Crew, our student fan organization, immediately issued an apology about the incident. It is worth considering how corrosive this kind of behavior can truly be to each of us. While some might see these chants as being directed against an opponent from another school, they are also an attack on all members of our community. There are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on our own football team, and we know there were members of that faith wearing green and yellow sitting right next to those chanting on Saturday. How did they feel in that moment? I hope that everyone will reflect on the reality that, what may seem like a lark to some, tells someone else in our community that they are not welcome, and that they should be afraid based on who they are and what they believe. Our path toward true inclusion starts with empathy for how others might be experiencing a given incident or interaction.

These actions remind us that discrimination can affect each of us along some dimension of our lives—faith, ethnicity, nationality, gender, gender expression, sexual orientation, physical or cognitive ability, socioeconomic background—but for some, it is part and parcel of their daily experience, and it can weigh heavily. We have students from all backgrounds at the UO. Without question, some have been more vulnerable to discrimination than others, as are many of the groups of faculty and staff who have spoken to me over the last few years with true distress in their voices.

I condemn the behavior of these fans on Saturday. It angers me. It disgusts me. It also provides a moment to remind ourselves that these actions, as well as any other actions of a similar flavor, are anathema to who we are as a community. These types of incidents call upon us to stand up against such behavior when we witness it—a task made easier when we stand together. This is who we seek to be as a university, and the standard to which we hold ourselves. We will continue to educate our community about our values and how to live them in words and actions.

Patrick Phillips
President and Professor of Biology


  1. Townie 09/20/2022

    How many students were involved? A dozen out of ???

    I’ve seen worse at international tennis events.

  2. thedude 09/20/2022

    I wonder how long it will be before the comments descends into “I don’t like the mormons either, fuck them they deserve it.” like most of comment sections in the local media coverage.

    • uomatters Post author | 09/20/2022

      Maybe, although for some reason I don’t get a lot of sports fans on this blog.

  3. eugenenative 09/20/2022

    Did Nike’s PR flacks write this and give it to the interim president to sign? What a ham-fisted insincere, equivocating, non-apology.

    • Townie 09/21/2022

      What would you have said if you were in the same position?

      Please submit

  4. SportsFan 09/20/2022

    I suppose it different from F. U. CLA, which I assume can be heard at every Pac game outside the Rose Bowl. Especially now that the traitorous bastards–along with the University of Spoiled Children– are heading to the the B1G, finally dropping any pretense that college sports are about education or student athletes.

  5. Francis 09/21/2022

    ” does not seem to be proposing any actual discipline ”

    Does this involve students turning in their roommates?
    Should we convene a panel to lead an inquiry? What exactly are you suggesting would be an appropriate and measured response?

    • uomatters Post author | 09/21/2022

      Ban students from the next home game.

    • thedude 09/21/2022

      There’s plenty of video.

      I think they should have to go a Mormon church and clean on Saturdays (they clean their own buildings instead of hiring janitors) or show up to help a Mormon move in or out of their congregation (a mormon tradition is to help each other move).

      • Anonymous 09/21/2022

        That’s right, I forgot they’re using Social Sentinel or whatever homebrew spyware they’ve commissioned. ID’ing the reprobate kids should be a piece of cake.

    • just different 09/21/2022

      Their dumb yahoo asses all over social media is punishment enough. Back in the day you used to be able to deny acting like an idiot. Now there’s always a tape.

  6. Townie 09/21/2022

    Fall term only has 46 instructional days as far as I can tell. Seems kind of low.

    Can you really blame them for wanting to blow off some steam?

    • Townie 09/21/2022

      UO observes Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur according to their official calendar.
      *Total instructional days fall term 2022 = 46

      UCLA, which likely has a much larger Jewish population, does not observe Jewish holidays according to their official calendar.
      *Total instructional days fall term 2022 = 49

      *Total instructional days fall term 2022 = 50

      As a Townie I have a hard time understanding some of the decisions UO makes. If they are going to subtract days in order to observe a religious holiday, shouldn’t they find a way to add days to the calendar to make up for it?

      • honest Uncle Bernie 09/23/2022

        Interesting that UO only has 46 instructional days. Veterans’ Day in Fall term is now a day off. So is Juneteenth in Spring. We skip more and more classes, all part of the thinning of the wine. I guess it helps us to show our woke bonafides. I get that it is nice to have days off, a good chance for faculty to come in for some peace and quiet if they want, get some work done. But It’s gotten to be too much.

        • Townie 09/29/2022

          Oregon State also has 50 instructional days this fall.

          I predict Oregon State will surpass Oregon in terms of national stature in 5-10 years.

          • Heraclitus 10/02/2022

            So far as I can I schedule my classes Tues/Thurs. Makes a huge difference, since Mondays and Fridays are by far more likely to be lost to ‘holidays’ (*shakes fist at Thanksgiving and that one Thursday that was Veterans day… I think*). Also it’s 160 mins per week of class time vs. 150 mins. My motivations, of course, have nothing to do with the 4 day weekend concept.

    • Publius 09/22/2022

      Townie: what if they had chanted “fuck Jews”? Would that be OK with you too?

      • Townie 09/22/2022

        I can’t say I’d be OK with it. However, if Jews, rather than Mormons, comprised of 60% of the population of Utah and there was a major private university named after a Jewish prophet there, I think something similar would happen at sporting events.

      • just different 09/22/2022

        Not sure what your point is here, but you know damn well this is a false equivalence. It’s more like chanting “F*** the Catholics” at a Fighting Irish game. Mindless and ugly, to be sure, but it’s not “discrimination” and not remotely like “F*** the Jews,” and I say this as a (lapsed) Catholic. White Christians are not regular targets of conspiracies and violence in this country, no matter how much they like to wallow in imaginary victimhood.

        • thedude 09/23/2022

          Fuck the Catholics and Fuck the Mormons is not discrimination.

          Fuck the Jews is.

          Not hiring someone because they’re white. Not discrimination.

          Not hiring someone because they aren’t white.

          Got it.

          • honest Uncle Bernie 09/23/2022

            dude, get a grip. Discrimination? I get what you’re saying. But the Tree of Life slaughter and other deadly synagog attacks are real, fairly recent events. So was the mass killing of black Christians at Charleston AME Church — though that was undoubtedly a matter of racial more than religious prejudice (though that’s a little complicated in the black American Christian situation).

            Personally, I can’t get TOO bent out of shape over the stupid football game antics of a few of our resident student clowns. You want discrimination? My nephews tell me, look at UO’s DEI hiring policies. You want tragedy? Ponder Ukraine, for a start.

            • thedude 09/23/2022

              I didn’t say it was a tragedy, or a massacre, or a genocide, or a slaughter or a murder.

              But most discrimination isn’t those things. That doesn’t make discrimination acceptable at least in my view.

              • just different 09/23/2022

                Discrimination also isn’t the same thing as being a dick. Sometimes a dick is just a dick.

                • thedude 09/24/2022

                  Being a dick to someone because of their gender, race, or religion is generally considered harassment which is a form discrimination. You just don’t care about this particular group so it’s just “being a dick”. Boys will be boys right?

                • just different 09/24/2022

                  I’m not making any excuses for these jackasses. But “discrimination” means a consistent, entrenched bias that puts the target at a disadvantage, which means there needs to be a broader power dynamic in play.

                  Describing any kind of boorishness as discrimination reduces the consequences of discrimination to hurt feelings. This is wrong. Actual discrimination warps and destroys lives.

                • uomatters Post author | 09/25/2022

                  I really don’t have a problem with our students chanting Fuck the Mormons. It was rude, but I think all religions deserve at least this much ridicule and hostility given the silly beliefs and offensive acts against others that they promote. But the Mormons got chased out of their farms in Illinois by violent mobs incited by politicians and had to move to Utah because our gov’t wouldn’t protect them – and this was back when Moab was not exactly an ecotourist destination. In my experience of many years in Utah and the neighboring states the hostility to the Mormons among “Christians” persists to this day, in many ways small and large. It’s not so visible, because the Mormons now have the political and economic power to mitigate it. But I don’t see how you can call it anything other than discrimination without abusing the word.

                • just different 09/25/2022

                  “Bigotry” is probably a more fitting word than “discrimination.” You can tell the exact same story about the history of Roman Catholics in the US: as recently as 1960, a majority of white Protestants wouldn’t vote for JFK and Mario Cuomo couldn’t get hired at a white-shoe law firm. Now the Supreme Court has six (or seven, if you count Gorsuch) Catholics. There’s still anti-Catholic bigotry around, but discrimination? No, I don’t think so.
                  Having the power to not be affected by what people think of you is exactly what makes the difference. You and I can hate billionaires all we like, but they won’t suffer any meaningful consequences from it, at least not before we do. I can’t bring myself to call that discrimination.

                • thedude 09/26/2022

                  You’re splitting hairs in completely farfetched ways.

                  Discrimination –
                  the unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people, especially on the grounds of ethnicity, age, sex, or disability:

                  obstinate or unreasonable attachment to a belief, opinion, or faction, in particular prejudice against a person or people on the basis of their membership of a particular group:

                  Both list each other as synonyms in pretty much any dictionary you can find.

                  Here’s the difference I think makes sense. You’re definitions have no internal or external consistency (you appear to think discrimination only can happen when someone is damaged in a way you vaguely define as important enough to count, which probably only happens for groups you’ve deemed to be deserving of protection).

                  Bigotry is not liking mormons because you hold some view about them. Discrimination is chanting “Fuck the Mormons at a football game. Bigotry is how you feel. Discrimination is how you act.

                • just different 09/26/2022

                  I will never for the life of me understand why “conservatives” refuse to recognize that context and especially power relations matter. We’re talking about drunken 20-year-olds who clearly have no intention of later going out to shoot up an LDS temple, or even posting on social media about how they’d like to shoot up an LDS temple. In fact, it’s a good bet that they don’t give a damn one way or the other about Mormons except on game day with BYU. This is why “fuck the Jews” or “fuck the Muslims” is not comparable.

                  So-called protected groups are protected because they have less power. And discrimination is bad because it hurts people in significant ways. You can’t hurt someone if you don’t have some kind of power over them. You’re turning discrimination into a matter of aesthetics, which erases the real injustices that result from it. I’ll refrain from ridiculing your Webster’s copypasta.

                • thedude 09/26/2022

                  1. I’m not a conservative.

                  2. Words have generally accepted meanings. If you don’t like them, pick different words instead of saying your made up tik tok definitions are the right ones.

                  3. You’re turning discrimination into a subjective case study specific circumstance in which we have to weigh how vulnerable a group or person is to determine if it’s discrimination. So does this mean you can’t discriminate against Obama, since he was the most powerful human on the planet, and retired as a mega millionaire with constant armed security? I’m pretty sure we can agree with all the power Obama has, he can (and has) been discriminated against. Just because you don’t care about a group or hate them, it doesn’t mean they can’t suffer discrimination. It’s not just the groups you deem to be worthy of protection.

                • just different 09/27/2022

                  American voters ultimately have power over the president, and the media and other politicians have a great deal of power as well. There was enormous damage done to Obama, his administration, and his legacy that was entirely the result of racist discrimination. As I said before, you can’t do damage if you don’t have power. I’ll leave the strawman stuff alone.

  7. Unacceptable 09/22/2022

    Mormons are Schrodinger’s Christians: viewed as Christian by others when they come under attack and bigotry (as if being in the majority somehow excuses the bigotry) and therefore their attackers are worthy of an eyeball-roll dismissal. However, when certain specific practices and theologies are examined (sacred garments, temple ceremonies, the Book of Mormon, etc.), Mormons are absolutely vilified by the public generally and loudly derided as “not Christian” by both the public and other Christian traditions. Mormons are always viewed as Christian/not-Christian in whatever light is least sympathetic to them.

    Also, as a Mormon with a Jewish great-grandparent who has visited both Dachau and Nauvoo+Winter Quarters, I find religious bigotry and intolerance to be abominable whether in the 19th century Midwest, 20th century Europe, or 21st century Oregon. It is stunning to me that so many of our campus community members, both students and faculty, find this incident anything other than abhorrently unacceptable. While the response from admin and politicians has been appropriate (although I note there’s not been a word from any Oregon politician up for election in November), the appalling comments on social media have made me seriously reconsider whether I really want to be affiliated with UO.

    Perhaps our VP of DEI can have the entire campus community undergo mandatory training on this issue. Moreover, perhaps faculty members should be required to submit a diversity statement on religious inclusivity for hiring, tenure, and promotion. Evaluated against a rubric jointly created by orthodox Jews, true-blue Mormons, devout Muslims, etc. engaged in religious studies scholarship.

    • honest Uncle Bernie 09/23/2022

      Perhaps it is a privilege to participate that deeply in the mystery of Schrodinger!

    • just different 09/23/2022

      It’s true in general that a lot of disrespect is directed at devout believers, and the charming football incident is an example of that. But I have seen exactly zero examples of faculty or administration perpetrating that disrespect and zero examples of the devout being denied equal access in one way or another in the way that people of color, people with disabilities, nongenderconforming people, etc, routinely deal with. The “no gay wedding cake” crap makes it very clear who gets the protection when push comes to shove.

      Should there be some efforts to instill more respect for people of various faiths? Sure. But it’s not a diversity issue. Please.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *