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UO Senate mediates peaceful end to encampment

Congrats are due to Senate Pres Gerard Sandoval, VP Alison Schmitke, and I’m sure many others who made this happen. It sounds like an expensive agreement, although if we go by revealed preference President Scholz must have thought it was cheaper than the alternative. Or maybe it’s just that UO will pay these costs, not him:

From: Joe Lowndes <[email protected]>
Subject: Re: UO Faculty & Staff Supporting Students Peaceful Protests
Date: May 22, 2024 at 10:40:33 PM PDT
To: Joe Lowndes <[email protected]>

Dear Colleagues,

I’m writing to share the news tonight that an agreement has been reached between the UO President’s office and the encampment, facilitated by the Senate.

The agreement to end the encampment includes a statement from the President calling for a ceasefire in Gaza; a working group on investment, purchasing and contracting; a commitment of funds over the next three years to bring in visiting scholars who research Palestine/Israel; educational exchange opportunities; support for faculty and students impacted by the crisis in Gaza; a cluster hire of faculty who study Palestine/Israel; a new cultural space; and full amnesty for student protestors.

Yours,
Joe

10 Comments

  1. honest Uncle Bernie 05/23/2024

    The UO outcome actually looks a lot like what Schill yielded in Northwestern.

    Perhaps Scholz will be honored with a summons to testify before Congress, following Schill’s footsteps.

    UO might even advertise itself as a “near-near-Ivy.”

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  2. caufee 05/23/2024

    But, will Scholz commit to not letting the compensation of these new faculty decrease over time? Should we tell them in the job ad that they will have to protest for their compensation to even keep up with inflation?

    More generally. Are we moving to a model where we have to threaten/protest/strike to get anything for faculty or students on this campus?

  3. Soapbox 05/23/2024

    Completely predictable…the feckless university administration shows their lack of spine and decency. If you take the university hostage and make insipid demands, they will cave, leaving a large portion of students and staff wondering; “who will be harmed next time? What will be the next list of demands? Which ethnic, social or political group will be targeted by the radical protesters?”. Let me be clear, to “celebrate our extraordinary community” during the blight of the last 3 weeks is a disgrace. You pretend that this was a “peaceful protest”, well if you define vile graffiti, vile chants of genocide, vile posters being glued to walls, windows being broken and spray painting vile slogans of anti-Semitism as peaceful….Well you are a fool. I have known from the beginning that if the university would not stand for Order, (which includes following university rules). The predictable outcome would be the reward of met demands to the mob at the expense of fear and intimidation all other students, staff and Eugene community members. This situation was destined to end with the university rolling over like a simpering dog. Which is exactly what the university has done. You did not serve your staff, students or past alumni by allowing these buffooneries to take place. For decades this university has sown the seeds of destruction and now we get to see the fruit of the crop. Rotten to the core.

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    • UO Matters Post author | 05/23/2024

      Wow. Say, what are your thoughts on the Boston Tea Party?

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      • Soapbox 05/23/2024

        Interesting question. Are you recommending that the Boston Tea Party and protesters on college campus’ are similar in nature? I would ask a couple questions: 1. Do a people who are directly being imposed upon by the ruling government (taxation without parliamentary representation) have a right to act out directly against that imposing power? 2. If yes, how are college students, (not personally involved or impacted by a conflict thousands of miles from their university), “Just” in their actions against a university (its staff and students), in disrupting the processes of that organization and its functioning?
        Prior to the Boston tea party the British government took the lives of 5 Boston citizens for disputing taxation (Boston Massacre 1770). Later in 1773, there was a non-violent response (Boston Tea Party). The the item being used to extract continued taxation, tea, was destroyed in the harbor. No British were harmed nor any citizens of Boston. The point is that the citizens of Boston were directly being impacted, (not so much by the taxation, but the direct refusal to have representation in the parliament). Taxation was just the continued salt in that wound.
        College students who have a desire for “justice” and the need to find purpose in a cause is understandable. I can understand (although not agree on this issue) the desire to voice concern over another country’s politics and over war. But my experience as a university student were marches down 13th street, participants carrying signs, or maybe singing. It was spirited, contained and respectful. Specific ethnic or social groups were not derided. Graffiti was not scrawled on walls. Having an opinion on a world issue was expressed, but demands, such as hiring preferences or scholarship funding or scrutinizing university investments were not part of the rally. Large groups did not camp on the university grounds, they did not march through neighborhoods in the middle of the night banging on drums and yelling. They didn’t smash in the windows of a local coffee shop and spray paint anti-Semitic tropes on the walls. If these privileged students of higher education were actually being oppressed directly by the university, I would possible have a different opinion, but that is not the case.
        I was young once and had some of these same ideological passions, yet I also could curb those passions. I would rationally think through the ideological bent. The point is the actions of a few passionate people have willingly and proactively disrupted the education of the many. They have destroyed landscape and marred buildings, which is a monetary cost in the thousands of dollars. Dollars of the many who pay exceedingly high tuitions. This will only drive the price higher. This crossed from an opinion being expressed, to literally taking over a portion of the campus. Both physically and (to staff and students) emotionally.
        As well, it did not serve the protesting students. To learn that by yelling loud and being destructive you will get your way is not a message most adults would consider valuable. Unfortunately, it seems that the world we live in today rewards this type of behavior, but in the end, there will always be a bigger bully or larger mob. One day you might find yourself on the other side. The group that is demonized or written about in derogatory and vile fashion. I hope that is not the case for anyone, but many participated in creating this situation. An atmosphere of literal hate that their co-students have endured these last few weeks.

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      • thedude 05/23/2024

        They are letting the students be a part of a university committee?

        Sounds like they tricked them into being punished while nothing actually will happen or change (based on the university committees I’ve been on).

    • A Humble Grad Student 05/23/2024

      Have you even been on campus during the encampment, or are you just parroting the sort of nonsense you read on Fox News? The university was never taken hostage; no buildings were occupied, and classes went on as scheduled the whole time. I haven’t seen any reports of broken windows or spray paint on campus, nor have I heard any “vile chants of genocide”. Describing chalk as “graffiti” is also a laughable claim; I don’t suppose you view your neighborhood children as vandals, do you? The demands of the protestors were originally much higher, and with the administration, an agreement in the middle was reached. This seems to me like a respectful process of negotiations, not the university “rolling over like a simpering dog”. I take it you would have liked to have seen the university immediately call in the police on its own students, but that doesn’t seem to have gone so well at Columbia and other schools, does it?

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      • thedude 05/23/2024

        They did occupy some classroom building like Lillis hall earlier this week did they not?

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      • Soapbox 05/23/2024

        • Well “Humble” grad student let me answer some of your questions: 1) yes, unfortunately I have been on campus everyday of the “encampment”. 2) I don’t watch Fox New. 3) The term “hostage” was not used literally, but figuratively to express that this “encampment” and “negotiations” were acts of aggression that could be construed as being held hostage. Case and point: they came and camped on public land, disrupted classes (via just being there and megaphone callouts), destroyed Memorial Quad turf, did massive graffiti on exterior walls and interior walls (like restrooms) (and not in chalk). And the protesters only decided to leave their “encampment” when the university caved to their demands. Sounds like a hostage situation to me??? 4) Multiple times I heard the term “from the river to the sea” from these protesters, as well as signs and graffiti on walls and posters. I consider this a “vile chant of genocide”. 5) While I will agree that I would not hold children (meaning 5 year olds) making pictures on the sidewalk of unicorns or the like (in chalk), as creating graffiti, I will posit that the young adults who did much more than draw pictures of unicorns were acting like children. If my child or a neighbor kid wrote “Kill the Jews” (University Street in front of EMU, May 6 at 8:15am) I would consider it vile graffiti. As well I saw a young Jewish woman ask for a brush and water to remove this filth off the EMU brick wall, and yes she was a student. 6) You state: “Original demands were much higher”, do I have to explain “hostage” to you again? 7) “Respectful process of negotiation”. a) for what reason does the university have to negotiate with this group? b) in what way does the university have any power over the situation in the middle east? The rolling over like a simpering dog is the fact that even though a group of protesters who harasses the student population both directly through vandalism (above) and by their actual long term presence (camping on public university property against university rules) and yet the university is still willing to give in to demands that have no bearing on the “stated goals” of the protesters, (ceasefire in Gaza), seems like a cowardly response from the university who has no bearing or control over this issue. c) . The Presidents response: “We have long intended to build our offerings in contemporary Middle Eastern studies at the UO. Our College of Arts and Sciences has taken steps to address that gap by hiring two outstanding scholars in this field who will arrive in the fall. As resources are available, we look forward to continuing to build additional strength in this area as part of our institutional hiring plan, working with deans, the provost, and others.” This statement appears to infer that a professor’s possible racial standing is more important to the hiring process than actual excellence in their field. I am not making a statement upon these 2 professors in the college of arts and science, I don’t know them and I wish them to be excellent in their field, but the statement that “there is a gap (middle eastern representation)” infers that the color of a person’s skin is what he is proud of not the actual excellence of the person. That is just sad, and racist.
        • 8) Yes I would have liked to see an immediate response from the administration to remove the tent village in Memorial Quad. If on that first Monday morning the protesters began setting up their camp, the university stepped in and said “I’m sorry, but it is not our policy to let camping take place on the campus.”, much of the ensuing destruction and harassment would have been stymied if not stopped. I was there that first morning, and I witnessed the opportunity to halt this in its tracks. Marches once a day down 13th street…fine. Controlled protest, fine.. encampment and non-stop vile vandalism NO.
        • And before you try and act as if I was not there. I can guarantee that I have been here everyday since it began. I began to write a list of all the vile things that I have seen (graffiti and posters) on campus over the last 3 weeks, but after typing the list I could not stomach having it published on this site. The most vile stuff has been cleaned up immediately by university staff, every day.
        • Although you want to write a narrative about me as a “right wing, fox news, non-participant” on this campus, who only parrots talking points from “right wing media” (this is how you intended to portray me by your comments). I have spent several decades on this campus (probably longer than you are in age) and have witnessed all that I stated above. And yes, I am disappointed in both the protesters and the administration.
        • Imagine in the fictional future that a group of protesters camped on the campus and yelled homophobic or transgender slurs. Wrote disgusting and vile comments about these people groups on bathroom walls, posters on sidewalks, etc. and then Negotiated with the university administration to hire people who opposed transgenderism, and the university complied and promised to hire staff and fully support those who held these same views. Would you feel that this was a cowardly response to the pressure of protests?
        • My desire is for a classical education where opposing views are heard and responded to in an actual desire to find right answers. Not a uni-view of the world that only brings angst and turmoil. And where the loudest voice gets precedence, not the best idea.

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  4. UO Matters Post author | 05/23/2024

    From an email sent by Michael Dreiling:
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    Good day, friends and colleagues,
    I am delighted to share this final update with you all. As you heard from Joe Lowndes last night and the email from President Scholz today, an agreement was reached last night and signed around 9:30pm. I was overjoyed joining the student negotiators with our president and provost in signing the agreement inside Johnson Hall. Thank you all for signaling support for the students’ 1A rights to assembly and peaceful dissent over the last few weeks. This support really mattered and I think was instrumental in holding open the space for dialogue. A very strong agreement – one that will improve the UO in many important ways – was reached because we, as faculty, pressed for dialogue, inquiry, and engagement, not coercion. Here is a more detailed description of the Senate portion of the agreement.

    It was just 8 days ago that I was asked to serve as the facilitator between the administration and the UO Palestine Coalition. Previous negotiations broke down and the risks of conflict escalation increased, threatening to negatively impact our university climate and the welfare of students. With the support of University Senate leadership, several senior faculty, and Interim Provost Karen Ford, the case was made to try a new process, inspired by “single-text bargaining” (thank you David Frank for that). I am grateful for everyone who held open this space for dialogue and facilitation, and I want to especially acknowledge Karen Ford.

    Throughout the last week, and over many days of negotiations, I had intense and moving experiences working with the UO administration, Senate President Gerard Sandoval and Vice-President Alison Schmitke, and especially the negotiating team of the UO Palestine Coalition. These students modeled integrity, curiosity, and savvy engagement, even as they listened, learned and facilitated their own internal process within the larger encampment. I celebrate their passion and intellectual fortitude. Between 2pm and 6pm yesterday, I worked closely with the students and the administration, shuffling text back and forth to finalize a complete agreement. Culminating in some last-minute agreements and a vote by members of the coalition, the encampment erupted with celebration, dancing, and the first phase of decampment (to be completed by 9pm 5/23).

    The University Senate leadership will begin the process of forming the work group by the end of this term. If you are invited to serve in this, or any of the other committees that will be needed to implement this agreement, I hope you will accept.

    In celebration of the power of shared governance to facilitate peaceful dialogue and progress in our university,

    Yours,
    Michael

    Michael Dreiling | Professor & Head (he/they)
    University of Oregon | Sociology

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