UO Covid cases fall, admin still refuses to release basic summary data – but Lane County does

Update – As Thomas Hager helpfully notes in the comments, Lane County Public Health is considerably more transparent than UO. For example, as of 8 days ago, 14 outbreaks in the UO Greek System, with 95 cases, or 22% of all of Lane County’s cases in the preceding week:

From UO, still no useful information about where the new cases are coming from. Bats? Frats? Athletes? Clusters in specific housing complexes? Big parties? A few here and a few there? Not even a link to the Lane County data above:

UO’s highest paid employee explains our mission statement

University of Oregon Mission Statement

Serving the state, nation and world since 1876

The University of Oregon is a comprehensive public research university committed to exceptional teaching, discovery, and service. We work at a human scale to generate big ideas. As a community of scholars, we help individuals question critically, think logically, reason effectively, communicate clearly, act creatively, and live ethically.

We strive for excellence in teaching, research, artistic expression, and the generation, dissemination, preservation, and application of knowledge. We are devoted to educating the whole person, and to fostering the next generation of transformational leaders and informed participants in the global community. Through these pursuits, we enhance the social, cultural, physical, and economic wellbeing of our students, Oregon, the nation, and the world.

We aspire to be a preeminent and innovative public research university encompassing the humanities and arts, the natural and social sciences, and the professions. We seek to enrich the human condition through collaboration, teaching, mentoring, scholarship, experiential learning, creative inquiry, scientific discovery, outreach, and public service.

We value the passions, aspirations, individuality, and success of the students, faculty, and staff who work and learn here.
We value academic freedom, creative expression, and intellectual discourse.
We value our diversity and seek to foster equity and inclusion in a welcoming, safe, and respectful community.
We value the unique geography, history and culture of Oregon that shapes our identity and spirit.
We value our shared charge to steward resources sustainably and responsibly.

Promising news on COVID testing from Pres Schill

Dear University of Oregon community,

In the coming days, the University of Oregon will expand COVID-19 surveillance testing conducted by our in-house Monitoring and Assessment Program (MAP). Our first phase of MAP testing was primarily focused on students living in residence halls. Having that capability in-house was vital to our efforts to operate campus safely and responsibly this fall.Regular mandatory testing will continue in our residence halls, and we are pleased that we are now in a position to expand MAP’s work to accommodate additional voluntary testing for some groups of employees and students, including students living off campus (with a focus on those in large apartment complexes or other congregate housing, such as fraternities and sororities), faculty and employees whose work requires them to be on campus, underserved communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, and in some cases, the community at large. The MAP team is ramping up testing capacity to about 4,000 tests per week—beginning next week and expanding throughout the fall and into the winter.There is nothing for you to do now. If you are in one of the groups that is being offered a voluntary testing opportunity, you will be contacted directly with detailed information about how to participate in testing events. During the fall, the testing efforts conducted by MAP will be free and will not require any insurance billing. Additionally, most testing events will continue to be at Matthew Knight Arena, but we are looking at another location in the west campus and the possibility of adding drive-up testing.It’s important to note that, if you are a student or employee who believes you have been exposed to or are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, you should seek medical help immediately. Symptomatic individuals should not go to a MAP testing event. Employees or students who have tested positive or think they have been exposed to COVID-19 are encouraged to review the COVID-19 exposure scenarios and guidance and contact the Corona Corps Care Team via this web form.MAP’s current form of testing is through a self-collected anterior nasal swab (front of nose), analyzed using qPCR methods on machines in campus labs. The MAP team is working to implement saliva testing later this year, which will allow for an even higher volume of weekly tests and for the ability to further expand testing within Eugene and Lane County. Test results have a 48- to 96-hour turnaround time, though the vast majority have returned in less than 48 hours.COVID-19 testing capacity continues to be limited at the county and state level, so we are very fortunate to have these capabilities in-house, and we are both tremendously grateful to the MAP team members who have worked so hard to build this program from scratch. It is truly a fantastic example of how a great research university can quickly pivot and leverage faculty and staff expertise to serve a vital societal need. The MAP initiative and concurrent contact-tracing efforts—which are all conducted in collaboration with Lane County Public Health Authority—are critical to the continued successful operation of the university and the broader health and safety of the community.Thank you. Please stay safe and healthy.

Sincerely,Michael H. Schill
President and Professor of Law

Patrick Phillips
Provost and Senior Vice President

Provost Phillips’s new diversity efforts will be outsourced to the lowest bidder

You’ve on the email list, and if not you can always google the predictable “Around the O” posts about our administration’s latest commitment to looking like they are doing something about diversity. Of course you won’t find any mention of the fact that all 5 of President Schill’s diversity cluster of excellence hires have now left UO.

But it’s not just the usual window dressing – it’s a money-making opportunity for outside consultants. There’s a certain logic to this for anyone who has watched the many expensive failures from our VP for Equity and Inclusion’s bloated office. Now they can just supervise consultants! How I.D.E.A.L. ™.

So let’s see what the free-market can provide. From the Business Opportunities website of our Purchasing and Contracts Office. “Opportunity closes on: February 1, 2021 5PM”:

Chief Admin bargainer Missy Matella leaving for private practice

Rumor down at the faculty club has it that Johnson Hall’s $174K chief anti-union negotiator Missy Matella will be leaving UO in the next month or so for private practice at Watkinson Laird Rubenstein. This leaves Pres Schill with a few options for the next round of negotiations with the faculty union, which begin in January:

1: Logical and cheapish: Turn the job over to the $214K HR head, Mark Schmelz.

2: Logical and expensive: Hire Matella back on an hourly basis.

3: Very cheap if you ignore sunk costs as you should: Give the job to Doug Park, who became interim General Counsel after Pres Lariviere fired Randy Geller. Park was quickly replaced by Kevin Reed at $370K, but is apparently forever on the JH payroll for his old salary plus raises, now $222K.

4: Entertaining: Bring back Sharon Rudnick and Randy Geller, who are just itching for another chance to “represent management in labor relations matters”:

University asks students not to intentionally contract Covid-19 so they can sell their plasma for more cash

Say what you will about UO’s reckless undergrads spreading the virus to the Eugene community, and our silly PR messages about hand-washing. This one is new to me. Thanks to the Chronicle for the link:

2:21 p.m. Eastern, 10/13/020

BYU-Idaho Warns Students Not to Intentionally Contract Covid-19

Brigham Young University-Idaho on Monday urged students not to intentionally contract Covid-19 in order to sell their plasma for a higher price. Citing “accounts of individuals who have intentionally exposed themselves or others to Covid-19, with the hope of getting the disease and being paid for plasma that contains Covid-19 antibodies,” the university said it “condemns this behavior and is actively seeking evidence of any such conduct among our student body.” According to EastIdahoNews.coma spokeswoman for Eastern Idaho Public Health said she had heard rumors that people had intentionally contracted the coronavirus, but had not confirmed them. The news outlet previously reported that plasma centers in the area had paid more money to people whose plasma contained Covid-19 antibodies. —Andy Thomason

(For the record I lived in Rexburg for 3 months back in my oil field days, and can report that the students at what was then called Ricks College are wicked ping-pong players, and learn 8-ball pretty quick. Also there is plenty of oil under those potato fields, but not even close to worth drilling at $40 a barrel.)

Will faculty be Free to Choose in-person or on-line for Winter classes?

Update: It seems the deans of the colleges are willing to be much clearer on what will happen in Winter than our president and provost – or maybe their messages don’t get filtered by as many layers of PR flacks. A sample from the CHC: you’re going to be teaching on-line unless you want to opt out and have a damn good reason, in which case we will probably just cancel your class:

“First, we expect that the majority (if not all) of the course offerings in the CHC will be synchronous remote classes. You should plan to have live, remote engagement with your students during your scheduled class times. Asynchronous online teaching is not an option for Honors College courses. Please let us know if you anticipate any challenges in offering live engagement for your remote course.  

Second, if you would prefer to have your class scheduled as an in-person class (with the COVID-19 precautions outlined in today’s email from Schill and Phillips) please let us know and we will do our best to accommodate your request. Please be aware that we do not yet have guidance on whether the CHC will be allowed to offer in person classes and that the status of Winter 2021 in-person offerings may change as the COVID-19 situation evolves. If your class REQUIRES in person engagement (i.e., would need to be cancelled rather than offered remotely), please let us know as soon as possible.”

10/13/2020: Surprisingly, today’s email from our President and Provost is a bit unclear about that, just saying that we will be surveyed, but not explaining who has final say. Last spring the administration did 2 surveys for Fall teaching. The first asked about pre-existing conditions and preferences. The second, done after pushback from our faculty union, eliminated the bit about pre-existing conditions and just asked for choices, making clear these would be respected unless a class simply couldn’t be done on-line. I assume the survey for Winter will be of the second type – I don’t know why this email just doesn’t say that.

Also, shouldn’t this email be coming from Francis White, Prof of Anthropology and Chair of the UO Senate’s Academic Council, instead of just from UO’s president and provost?

Dear colleagues,

We are writing to announce that winter term courses at the University of Oregon will continue to be delivered much like they have been for fall term, with a mix of remote, online, and some in-person courses. In-person instruction will focus on some experiential courses, such as labs, studio or creative classes, physical education, and a handful of other courses. All in-person classes will follow strict COVID-19 precautions such as requiring face coverings, reduced density, increased air circulation, and physical distancing.

We made this decision based on our careful monitoring of COVID-19 indicators and prevalence in Lane County and across Oregon. As has been the case throughout the pandemic, the health and safety of the entire UO community remains our top priority. We will continue to take precautions, evaluate the situation, and adapt as necessary in coordination and compliance with guidance from the Oregon Health Authority and appropriate local health authorities. As is the case now, many of our buildings, including residence halls, the Knight Library, the Student Rec Center, Erb Memorial Union, research facilities, and some classroom spaces will be open to the campus community. This map provides information about operational status of all campus buildings.

As with fall, instructors will be surveyed regarding whether their winter term course will be offered in person, remotely, or as a hybrid. We will send that survey to faculty and GEs later this month.

We anticipate the winter term class schedule will be released on November 16. We will continue to offer all-remote options for students. Employees not teaching winter term will continue to perform their work as they have during the fall term, with some faculty members, officers of administration, and classified employees working in person to support research activities and to provide necessary services to our students and the university community, and others working remotely to maintain appropriate density on campus. We encourage supervisors and employees to use this as an opportunity to check in on how the implementation of unit resumption plans, individual work schedules, and other arrangements are going.As we look ahead to spring term, we will continue to monitor the COVID-19 indicators. Our COVID-19 Monitoring and Assessment Program team will continue to ramp up capacity to allow for greater surveillance testing of students, faculty, and staff.

We hope to be able to expand the level of in-person courses and experiences, as it is safe to do so. This can only happen if we all work together to prevent the spread of the virus. This requires diligent adherence to prevention measures such as mask wearing, staying home when sick, physically distancing, and not gathering in groups. It is vitally important to take these precautions on campus and off to protect ourselves, our loved ones, and our community. Thank you for your resilience, perseverance, and commitment to caring for each other and our University of Oregon community.


Michael H. Schill
President and Professor of Law

Patrick Phillips
Provost and Senior Vice President

Faculty Senate Committee makes Dean reinstate faculty member he falsely accused of racism

The Committee is the UCLA Senate’s Committee on Academic Freedom, here. The Dean is the UCLA Anderson School of Management Dean Antonio Bernardo, here. The faculty member is UCLA lecturer in accounting Gordon Klein, here. The report from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education about the events that led to his suspension and now his reinstatement, is here:

UCLA reinstated Gordon Klein. Who will reinstate his reputation?

by Alex Morey October 12, 2020

University of California, Los Angeles faculty member Gordon Klein never imagined a routine email exchange with a student this summer would land him at the center of an explosive national controversy. Accused of racism and abuse of power, and ejected from his classroom, Klein faced termination from UCLA’s Anderson School of Management, where he taught with a spotless record for almost 40 years.

“I was following university policy meticulously in refusing to discriminate,” Klein said of his email response to a white student who requested Klein loosen his grading policies to help black students during nationwide protests over the killing of George Floyd.

Klein said he simply followed UCLA’s Faculty Code of Conduct, which prohibits the failure to hold exams as scheduled. It also prohibits evaluating students on criteria other than their course performance and engaging in race-based discrimination. 

But Klein’s message, which challenged the student to critically consider the implications of his request by suggesting a series of hypotheticals highlighting the problems with race-based grading criteria, was misunderstood. Soon, a screenshot of the email was all over social media. Klein’s dean swiftly denounced the message publicly as “outrageous” and an “abuse of power,” and UCLA put Klein on leave, indicating punishment would follow. A petition for the professor’s ouster garnered 20,000 signatures.

Soon however, a dueling petition for Klein’s reinstatement garnered more than 75,000 signatures. And after FIRE intervened — publicizing the case and reminding UCLA of its constitutional academic freedom obligations — the university dropped the case in July, admitting it did not even merit an investigation. …

Americans more interested in Immanuel Kant than Duck basketball

Update: The Ducks get an occasional spike, but on average it’s a solid win for Kant. In California, where UO attempts to recruit students by pitching big-time Duck sports programs with campus tours that start with Knight Arena and the Jock Box, Kant beats Altman 3 to 1:


10/9/2020: No one gives a shit about Duck Football.

UO undergrads are quickly learning they don’t need a football game to have a party. See this report in the Weekly, and this one in the Oregonian (written before the latest spike):

In Lane County, which includes the UO campus, the weekly number of new infections has exploded nine-fold since August, dwarfing the statewide rate of increase. Last week, the first of UO’s fall term, the county logged a record-breaking 245 new cases, up from 27 during the third week of August.

And in the past three weeks214 UO students have tested positive, virtually all of them living off campus. Four employees also have been infected.

Public health officials say they’ve been able to link much of the surge in Lane County to nine separate parties or social gatherings among university students and their peer group, ages 18-28. Officials say these young adults gathered indoors, without masks and without physical distancing, to celebrate birthdays, the end of summer, the start of school or simply to party.

And it turns out not many people want the Ducks on TV either:

Senate to meet: Pres Schill, teaching evals, open access, SBC election, anti-racism


Location: Zoom (Please find link below the agenda)
3:00 – 5:00 P.M.

3:00 P.M.  Call to Order

  • Land Acknowledgment; Elliot Berkman
  • Zoom rules; Sandy Weintraub
  • Introductory Remarks; Senate President Elliot Berkman
  • Remarks; Senate Vice President & President-Elect Spike Gildea

3:10 P.M. State of the University

  • President Michael Schill

3:25 P.M. Updates & Announcements

  • COVID; Andre Le Duc

3:40 P.M. Approval of Minutes

3:40 P.M. New Business

4:15 P.M. Open Discussion

4:55 P.M. Reports
4:56 P.M. Notices of Motion
4:58 P.M. Other Business
5:00 P.M. Adjourn

Topic: Senate Mtg – Oct 2020
Time: Oct 7, 2020 03:00 PM Pacific Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

UO Faculty Union calls out JH for Equal Pay Act failures

From today’s union email to the bargaining unit members, here, and below with some emphasis added. Our Administration’s strategy is to apply the same argument used by Paula Barran, the lawyer they hired to fight Jennifer Freyd’s case. Explanation of that and the “bodily fluids” controversy in the posts here.

Now that I think of it, Halloween will make it a year since her lawyer threatened me with a DCMA takedown notice, here:

“The Article includes a screenshot of Ms. Barran’s profile on the Barran Liebman LLP website. Barran Liebman LLP has copyrighted the material on its site and does not grant UO Matters the right to use its copyrighted material. If Barran Liebman LLP’s copyrighted material has not been removed from the UO Matters site within five (5) days, my clients will file a DMCA Takedown Notice.”

That didn’t happen. On to the substance from UAUO:

The Oregon Equal Pay Act Isn’t Working at UO

In 2017, the Oregon Legislature passed the Oregon Equal Pay Act (OEPA). The basic intent of the law is that employees who perform comparable work for an employer should earn the same wage. The Legislature recognized that not all employees are equal and allowed that employees who perform comparable work could be paid different wages for eight “bona fide” reasons: seniority system, a merit system, a system that measures earning by quantity or quality of production (such as piece-rate), workplace location, travel (if regular and necessary for the employee), education, training, and/or experience.

Many faculty were excited about the law and the opportunity it may provide to address some of the historical inequities within departments. Anyone familiar with the history of salaries at UO recognizes that before United Academics came along – and to a lesser extent after – the system of salaries was fairly ad hoc. Not only were starting salaries individually negotiated between prospective faculty and their future department head, but merit raises were irregular, retention raises were awarded under an opaque system, and the compensation for special service duties like department head was not uniform across campus or over time. All of this led to some glaring inequities between faculty within units.

The administration was not, however, enthusiastic about the new law. While there is little doubt that the individual administrators all support the basic premise of equal pay for equal work, the law was clearly not written with academia in mind. There’s no allowance for pay differentials based on opportunity hires or to recognize exceptional service. The ability to pay retention raises under the law is deeply questionable.

Over the course of the last few years, it has become obvious that the administration has implemented a two-pronged approach to incorporating the OEPA into our compensation systems. The first prong is to delay and deny claims existing faculty make under the OEPA. The second prong is to use the OEPA to flatten and hold down the salaries of new hires.

According to the data the administration gave us in response to an information request, at least seven faculty members have filed claims under the OEPA with the administration. Of those seven, so far only one has had a successful outcome; the other six are still waiting for their investigations to conclude.

For instance, one faculty member filed a claim with the administration in November 2018. The administration determined in June of 2019 that they had one or more comparators at the university. The administration is still working on determining if any salary adjustment is required under the law. Another faculty member filed a complaint in May 2019 and heard a short time later that they had one comparator at the university. They are still waiting for the administration to determine whether the differences in salary between them and their comparator are justified according to any of the eight bona fide reasons.

More insidious than the delays, however, are the outright denials. When seeking to determine if two employees do comparable work, the administration is supposed to use a limited number of factors to determine whether two jobs are comparable. From the Oregon Bureau of Labor Industries website:

“Work of comparable character is work that requires substantially similar knowledge, skill, effort, responsibility, and working conditions in the performance of work, regardless of job description or job title.”

These are broad categories for comparison. Depending how one interprets “substantially similar,” it could be argued that all TTF or Career faculty do substantially similar work. Or faculty within a college or division. In our conversations with the administration, we have generally taken the approach that analysis as to whether faculty do comparable work is best examined at the department level, allowing for the possibility that there may be subfields within a department that make work incomparable, and there may be cases where faculty in different departments do substantially similar work.

The administration, however, has taken a different approach. We have learned that the administration believes that faculty work has to be “interchangeable” to be comparable. So, in one case, a faculty member filed a complaint under the OEPA claiming that they had a substantially similar job to two of their colleagues in their unit. They all had similar educational backgrounds and credentials, they all taught five classes a year, they all taught the same students within the unit, had the same research expectations for reviews, and all did 20% of their work as service. The administration, however, determined that the faculty member had no comparators. Their reasoning was that because the faculty member who filed the claim studied and taught in Russian and English, while their colleague researched and taught in English and another language, their work was not comparable. The administration also determined that since all three faculty members had different service assignments, they were not doing work of a comparable character.

The administration has asserted that any difference in teaching or service assignments or research agendas is indicative that work is not of comparable character. If that is how the administration proceeds with interpreting the law, then almost every tenure-track faculty member is an island unto themselves, as an exact match between two people will be very rare indeed.

While these seem very tenuous reasons to claim that the work faculty are doing is not substantially similar, they are not surprising. Every signal the administration has given about OEPA leads to the conclusion that they will interpret the law to allow them to find as few comparators as possible and make only minimal adjustments to salary after long periods of time.

Conversely, the administration seemingly has no problem invoking the OEPA when negotiating starting salaries with new faculty. We have received reports that faculty recruited to UO with hints of generous starting salaries and startup packages have later been told that the OEPA requires the administration to give all new faculty in the unit the same salary when actual offers are made. The administration also uses the OEPA to set salaries for Career faculty, asking OAs to fill out a form to justify disparities in salaries within a unit. Here, the guidance does not suggest that it is acceptable to differentiate work by different teaching or service assignments.

The administration has stressed to us that they are still figuring out how to best implement this law, but it has been three years now and it seems clear they are using the law only to justify inequities that already exist, while at the same time holding down wages for new hires.

If you were thinking of making a claim under the Oregon Equal Pay Act, please reach out to us for assistance. We have been working with faculty to help them assert their rights under the law. We also intend to make a fair implementation of the Oregon Equal Pay Act as part of our bargaining agenda. The law was intended to address inequities in salary, and the administration needs to understand that this is a priority for the faculty as well.

Will UO Admin try to arrest students for peaceful JH protest?

The last time we had a JH sit-in, General Counsel Kevin Read tried to get the UO Senate to adopt a policy of  “time place and manner restrictions” on free-speech that would give the UO administration and their newly armed police the power to do this. (One Daily Emerald report here.)

The Senate beat off Reed’s attack, so he tried an end run that would let building managers develop opaque “procedures” that would grant them this authority. I don’t know where that went.

In any case our students are again protesting outside JH, The Daily Emerald reports here.

Did Provost Phillips just fall into a far-right Trump setup with his response to Zoombombing?

All that I know about this incident is what I read in his email from noon today. People might be surprised that this comes from our provost, rather than from President Schill, who is after all also a law professor, but it wouldn’t be the first time he stuck a provost with a potentially problematic job.

FWIW I share our Provost’s disgust at the idea that people would shout racist slurs at an invited speaker (quoting from his email):

On Friday night, the UO School of Law’s student chapter of the American Constitution Society hosted a Zoom event. An African-American man who had spent time on death row in Florida before being exonerated and released was slated to speak. Several law faculty members participated, along with our students, students from Willamette University, and members of the public as the event was widely publicized. When the presentation began, an unidentified person or group of people began yelling racist slurs. The Zoom event was immediately shut down. Organizers decided to reopen the event, but only to known participants.

And I certainly agree with this statement personally, and also as part of the UO Community:

… know that President Schill and I, along with the UO community, denounce this repugnant behavior. No one should ever have to be subjected to this kind of act.

However his email goes on to speak for the University of Oregon as an institution of the government, and to announce a joint investigation by it. including the UO Police:

I am writing to let the entire community know that the University of Oregon — unequivocally — stands firmly against racism and all hate speech. There is zero tolerance for this egregious and offensive behavior.

School of Law administrators moved quickly to alert the Division of Equity and Inclusion, the UO Office of the General Counsel, the Office of the Provost, and the Division of Student Life officials about the incident. They also reported what happened to the UOPD and the Office of Investigations and Civil Rights Compliance. Those in attendance were offered support and other resources. The person or persons who made the racist comments have not been identified, but our Information Services unit is working with Zoom officials to conduct a joint investigation.

As it happens, one of the board members of the American Constitution Society – whose UO Law student chapter organized the event that was interrupted by these racist slurs – is Erwin Chemerinsky. In 2017, the NY Times interviewed him over his new book “Free Speech on Campus”, with this intro: “Mr. Chemerinsky is not only one of the foremost legal scholars on the First Amendment but also a firsthand witness to the free speech debates of today as the new dean of the University of California Berkeley School of Law.”

Here’s what he said about restrictions on hate speech by public universities:

Erwin Chemerinsky: I think we have to be attentive to the fact that many students want to restrict speech because of very laudable instincts. They want to protect other students from hate speech. They want to create an inclusive community for all. But the response to hate speech can’t be to prohibit and punish it. It’s unconstitutional. We have to find other ways to create inclusive communities.

Natalie: For many students, it’s not just about hate speech, but the kind of speech that creates harm. This term is agonizingly broad and open to wildly different interpretations. But students aren’t wrong in thinking that speech can be a weapon.

Erwin: Students are quite right. We protect speech because of its effects. If speech had no effects, it wouldn’t be a fundamental right. Those effects can be positive but they can also be very negative. Speech can cause enormous harm. It can be hurtful, it can cause people to be excluded, and it can interfere with education or employment. Especially in colleges and universities, we have to be attentive to that.

Natalie: But you do take a hard line in your book that even hate speech must be protected.

Erwin: The law under the First Amendment is clear: Hate speech is protected speech. Over 300 colleges and universities adopted hate speech codes in the early 1990s. Every one to be challenged in court was ruled unconstitutional. And there are good reasons for that.

After some really ugly incidents at the University of Michigan in the late 1980s, the school adopted a hate speech code that was undoubtedly well intentioned. But a federal court declared it unconstitutional, in part, because it was so vague. It said that there could not be speech that “demeans or stigmatizes” anyone based on race or gender. But what does that mean? A sociobiology student who challenged the law said, “I want to study whether there are inherent differences between women and men. What if my conclusions are deemed stigmatizing on the basis of gender?” And during the years Michigan’s speech code was on the books, more than 20 black students were charged with racist speech by white students. There wasn’t a single instance of a white student being punished for racist speech, even though that was what had prompted the drafting of the Michigan speech code in the first place.

That’s part of a much bigger historical pattern: As we saw in Michigan, when hate speech codes or laws are adopted, they are most often directed at the very groups they are meant to protect.

Natalie: You make the distinction in your new book that this doesn’t mean that the First Amendment is absolute. For example, there is no constitutional protection for a “true threat” or for harassment. Campuses can protect students against that kind of speech. But before you address unprotected speech, maybe we should talk a bit about the history of free speech, which you lay out in your book.

Erwin: It is hard to imagine social progress anywhere that wasn’t dependent on freedom of speech. The civil rights protests of the 1960s — the lunch counter sit-ins, the marches and demonstrations — were essential to federal civil rights acts and the end of Jim Crow laws that segregated every aspect of the South. The anti-Vietnam War protests were crucial for the end of that war. This has been true throughout American history. The 19th Amendment that gave women the right to vote was the product of demonstrations and speech. …

Of course, we can trust the UO administration not to attempt to restrict the good kind of free speech, right? Actually, we can’t. For more on the efforts by President Schill and his General Counsel Kevin Reed to criminalize peaceful protest at UO, after a sit-in by Carbon Divestment undergraduates, see here:

2/12/2017: The UO administration wants to make peaceful protests a crime. They have proposed a new policy that will restrict the “time, place, and manner” of free speech at UO. Among the many restrictions our administration wants:

4. Use of University Campus for Speech Activities. … The interior spaces of University buildings are, generally, exclusively reserved for University business activities and therefore are not open for Speech Activities unless properly reserved in advance through the Facilities Scheduling Policy. …

And I thought one of the University’s primary business activities was free speech, or as Thomas Jefferson said, “for here we are not afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead, nor to tolerate any error so long as reason is left free to combat it.” Another:

6.4 While the streets and sidewalks of the campus are generally open to Speech Activities by University Entities, the Vice President for Finance and Administration may designate portions of a street and the time of day during which a street is not available for speech activities by any Person or group, in order to meet traffic, emergency access, and public transit needs. Any such restriction shall be content-neutral and viewpoint-neutral.

So they want to be able to ban marches down 13th Street by, say, South Eugene High School students protesting the Trump election. And UO students will need permission to put up protest banners:

9.4 University student organizations and ASUO may place banners or signs only in those locations authorized by University Scheduling and Event Services.

And, for those who disobey:


(1)            Any person violating these rules is subject to:

(a)             Institutional disciplinary proceedings, if a student or employee; and

(b)            An order to leave the immediate premises or property owned or controlled by the University by a person in charge of University property.

(2)            Persons failing to comply with an order by a person in charge to leave or to remain off the immediate premises or property owned or controlled by the University may be subject to citation or arrest for criminal trespass.

That’s right, the UO General Counsel’s office wants to have the right to arrest UO students who engage in peaceful protests such as last spring’s Divest UO sit-in.

 The full text of Provost Phillips’s email today is below the break:

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