Bikes, Covid, and Relative Risks (keep on biking!)

Thanks to Raghu Parthasarathy of UO Physics and for sending in the following:

..I’ve wondered about this exact comparison [of the relative risks of Covid and of bicycling] for a while. Here are some very rough numbers — I encourage someone to put together better ones.

TL/DR: My estimate is that the annual risk of dying by bike is 10,000 greater than of dying by Covid. Nonetheless I happily bike to work.

Let’s say about 9 people per year in Oregon die in bike accidents — from ; that’s 9 per 4 million. (I’m surprised it’s not higher.) 

What fraction of Oregonians commute by bike? Even in Eugene, I doubt it’s over 5%. Let’s say the death rate per cyclist is therefore 9*20 = 180 per 4 million. The biking death rate per year is therefore about **50/million.**

In the past two years 6000 people have died of Covid in Oregon, so 3000 per year per 4 million. As we all know, the risk is extremely age dependent, and the demographics of bicyclists will be very different from that of Covid victims! (The fatality rate is *100 times* smaller for 40 year olds than 75; 1000 times for 20 year olds; Very roughly, as a 45 year old, my Covid fatality risk (without vaccination) is therefore around 30/4 million; I’m vaccinated and boosted, so this becomes ~0.3/4 million — I think it’s 100x smaller, though I can’t find the reference now. Plus, I’m in good health. So at most about 0.1/million, and probably more like 0.01/million. The Covid death rate per year, for a healthy and vax’ed 45 year old, is therefore about **0.01/million.**

I happily bike to campus every day; my kids bike to school. We live with such risks; they make life worth living. It is wrong / ignorant / neurotic to think that our Covid risks are anywhere close to the risks that many people perceive them to be.

If the numbers are wrong, I welcome corrections. I suggest, however:
(i) snarky comments without numbers are not constructive
(ii) put your name on your posts. (The internet would be a better place if this were more common…)

Pres Schill and Prov Phillips blow off faculty covid concerns

The union’s response today to the administration’s dismissal yesterday of the union’s request that JH get its shit together about this omicron thing, any fucking time now:


Below, you’ll find the [Union] Executive Council’s message to upper administration after reviewing their response.

If you are having difficulty with remote accommodations for your work, if you feel you are working in an unsafe environment, or, if your workload has significantly increased this term, please contact us so we can advocate for you as best as we can.

Please remember Bargaining picks up again this coming week. Zoom in from wherever you’re at. The B-Team did their work. Now we do our work and show up.

In Solidarity,

The EC of UAUO

Dear President Schill, Provost Phillips, Executive Vice Provost Woodruff-Borden, and Vice President Schmelz,

We received your response to our membership generated action items presented and discussed with you on Tuesday, January 18. We are disappointed that you continue to discount and devalue important faculty input and suggestions to better their working conditions and maintain excellence in teaching and research during this global pandemic.

A presidential advisory group on COVID academic continuity and scholarly impact involving representatives from units across campus is not comparable to what we proposed, a joint UA and management group responsible for Covid-related decision making affecting our bargaining unit members. If you want input on decision making from a variety of campus groups, you might similarly work with them to make decisions affecting their unique interests, such as teaching modality with GTFF. But one group to cover all you’ve suggested cannot function efficiently. For example, we cannot see how a campus-wide group of stakeholders is best suited to discuss scholarly impact for faculty under the pandemic.

You do not acknowledge or address our action item to allow faculty teachers to choose modality based on their pedagogical expertise and their ability to best evaluate classroom safety from an “on-the-ground” perspective. Faculty recognize this flexibility is for a limited time, and they will base their decision first and foremost on their students’ holistic well-being and the best path forward for their success.

In conversation with our Labor partners across the UO, we are cognizant that the University cannot “shut down.” We also recognize we are in a privileged position where we are able to deliver our mission-critical responsibility of engaged, inclusive, and research-led teaching via two different modalities. Many of our Labor cousins and bargaining unit members can’t Zoom in to their jobs. But we are able to do so, and, as we’ve proved, do so effectively. We cannot stress enough that despite the limited data upper administration may have on student experiences during the pandemic, the realities for our students in the here and now are much more complicated. Teachers hear directly from their students what they’re experiencing now. This is why we are best suited to gauge what is pedagogically best for our students. It is an odd thing that we must stress this point. We were all hired for our pedagogical expertise and yet our expertise from within the classroom is disregarded.

Clarifying the application of Provost Phillips’ direction for when instructors may request remote instruction does not address the root issue: faculty need to have flexibility given their on-the-ground assessment and expertise involving numerous factors that may render a change in teaching modality during the pandemic. Factors not included in Provost Phillips’ policy (e.g., inadequate classroom technology, technology mismatch between classroom and teaching faculty, etc.) require faculty to work longer hours to deliver quality instruction to all of their students. Our cousins in SEIU working to support faculty with their IT needs and maintain a healthy environment in our classrooms and offices are incredibly overburdened. These are compounding pressure points unaccounted for in the current absence-based modality policy.

We argue that all faculty’s personal situations should be considered in teaching modality and support, but your persistent denial of the effects of these personal problems caused by the pandemic–among them the particular crisis in childcare, particularly for parents of unvaccinated children below age five, and faculty juggling all of this while teaching and conducting research–is leading to a significant proportion of the workforce nearing a breaking point. We believe our action items are well within reason given the current social conditions. Asynchronous or remote teaching as needed while caretaking (or other extraordinary circumstances) and establishing protocol for unit heads to ensure full participation in departmental governance are reasonable responses to the level of crisis caretakers are experiencing.

Your insistence that you continue to handle each faculty member’s situation individually on a case-by-case basis is putting faculty through more stress, labor, and time, and also drastically increasing the university’s administrative capacity. This is an issue of equity; not all faculty have the time, energy, and support of their supervisors to go through the individualized administrative process to fight to improve their own working conditions.

We wish our efforts and discussions could have been more productive. We are all striving for quality, safe working conditions while maintaining excellence in teaching and research. We will be pursuing further efforts to ensure faculty can maintain both without more detriment to their health and wellbeing.

Daily deaths to peak on Feb 4

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, another key COVID-19 forecaster in the Pacific Northwest says the number of infections in Oregon likely peaked Jan. 11. It forecasts that hospitalizations will top out on Feb. 1. Daily deaths would start declining on Feb. 4.

From Gary Warner at the Oregon Capital Bureau here.

Duck Coach Dana Altman secretly reprimanded for mask violation


The outline of an unfortunate situation has emerged on the Oregon trail. It involves COVID — specifically, the apparent violation of conference protocols by Ducks coach Dana Altman.

We framed it that way because details are sketchy. What can and cannot be revealed about COVID is dictated by student and employee privacy laws, at both the campus and conference levels.

But here’s what we know:

— Ducks point guard Will Richardson was wearing a mask during pre-game warmups last week at Oregon State.

— Richardson did not wear his mask during the game, which Oregon won 78-76.

— No Pac-12 protocols differentiate between mask-wearing in games and in warmups. Either you need one for both or for neither.

— The Pac-12 issued a private reprimand to Ducks coach Dana Altman at some point after the game, according to a report late last week by the Oregonian’s John Canzano: …

Is Altman the first head coach to be privately reprimanded by the conference over a COVID matter?

We don’t know.

Was there more to the private reprimand that a few stern words from HQ? Were any sanctions considered for the program?

Also unknown.

But the Pac-12 schools have devoted immense resources and incalculable effort into crafting and enforcing COVID policies that allow for continued competition while keeping players and coaches as safe as reasonably possible.

Any breach of those protocols — whether it’s Oregon basketball or Arizona State football or any other team and any other circumstance — is both extremely serious and deeply unfortunate.

Provost Phillips sends Coach Altman a stern warning about his players dismal graduation rate

Just kidding, our Provost’s warning is to the faculty, about not giving the players any “academic extra benefits”

Dear University of Oregon faculty,
I am writing again with this important reminder from the University of Oregon’s Intercollegiate Athletic Advisory Committee (IAAC). The committee wants to remind all faculty about NCAA rules as they pertain to academic misconduct and academic extra benefits for student-athletes.
While most NCAA rules do not involve faculty members, the IAAC wants to ensure that each of you understands how these two areas can impact decisions you might make regarding the treatment of student-athletes.
Please take the time to read the important memo below. If you have any questions, please contact Joshua Gordon, the university’s Faculty Athletics Representative, at, or by phone at 541-346-1634.
Thank you for your time and attention to this matter. I wish you the best for winter term.
Patrick Phillips
Provost and Senior Vice President


To: UO Faculty
From: Intercollegiate Athletic Advisory Committee (IAAC
RE: NCAA Academic Misconduct and Academic Extra Benefit
Student-athletes at the University of Oregon (UO) and all other member universities in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) are required to follow a number of rules and regulations that may not apply to other students. While most NCAA rules do not involve faculty in any significant way, the current rules concerning “academic misconduct” and “academic extra benefits” create the real potential for faculty to unintentionally contribute to violations that could jeopardize a student-athlete’s athletic career and result in sanctions against the university and athletic department coaches and staff.
In this memo, the IAAC briefly details these regulations and provides guidance concerning compliance with them. Please note that this information is shared with a full commitment to academic freedom and to the academic integrity of the University of Oregon. If you have questions now or later, please contact Joshua Gordon, the UO Faculty Athletics Representative.
Academic Extra Benefits
Under NCAA rules, an academic extra benefit is “[s]ubstantial assistance or the granting of an exception that is not generally available to an institution’s students, which results in the certification of a student-athlete’s eligibility to participate in intercollegiate athletics or receive financial aid.” A recent rule change extended the application of this rule to all university faculty, staff, and student employees. It is now possible for a university employee with good intentions and no connection to the athletic department to provide a student-athlete with an impermissible academic extra benefit.
There are two “bright lines” to keep in mind concerning academic extra benefits:
Student-athletes may not be given special treatment simply because they are student-athletes. If you are considering an accommodation for a student-athlete and you have not offered and would not offer the same or a similar accommodation to another student, you should not offer it to a student-athlete.
Athletic eligibility may never be a factor in any academic decision. If a student-athlete says that he or she needs to earn a certain grade to be eligible to compete, please inform the student-athlete that you cannot consider athletic eligibility in any decision.
Areas of special concern:
Academic Misconduct
At the UO, “‘Academic Misconduct’ means the violation of university policies involving academic integrity.” Examples include: intentional tampering with grades, resubmitting assignments for more than one class without the permission of the professor; intentionally taking part in obtaining or distributing any part of a test that has not been administered; cheating; plagiarism; knowingly furnishing false information to a university official; and fabrication.
While academic misconduct at the UO primarily focuses on student behaviors, it is possible that an instructor of record who engaged in fraudulent behavior, such as intentionally awarding a false grade or giving credit to a student based on the work of others in order to protect athletic eligibility, would be in violation of university policy. Such behavior may also be viewed as academic misconduct under NCAA rules.
In addition, it is possible for an instructor of record to unintentionally violate the NCAA’s impermissible academic extra benefits rules. There is a real potential for an NCAA violation that could result in sanctions for the university if, for example, an instructor of record knowingly or unknowingly failed to follow university policies concerning grading or believed that a student had violated the academic integrity provisions of the student conduct code and failed to follow university policies for reporting violations.
Student-athlete travel and class attendance/participation
Team travel will result in student-athletes missing classes in terms when their sport is in season. Because they are traveling for university-sponsored activities, faculty are strongly encouraged to make pedagogically sound and justifiable accommodations that will enable the student-athletes to be successful in the classroom, just as we would encourage such accommodations for other students traveling on university-sponsored activities. However, this request has limits and conditions:
Student-athletes are given a letter to share with instructors at the beginning of every term that reports when they will be traveling. It is the student-athlete’s responsibility to share this letter with his or her instructors and to discuss travel conflicts in time to arrange for appropriate accommodations.
In classes with substantial class participation, project or lab work, appropriate accommodations may not be possible. In those instances, the student-athlete should be informed that the course is not a good fit in a term with significant travel. Under no circumstances should the instructor offer an accommodation that is pedagogically unsound or that would be unavailable to other students.
Late Assignments
Student-athletes have very demanding schedules as they juggle athletic and academic demands. They are, of course, not unique on today’s college campuses. Many students are juggling competing demands. Student-athletes should be held to the same standards as other students who have professional or family obligations or who are traveling on university business.
Grade Change
Any grade change for a student-athlete must be based on consistent criteria applied to all students in a class and should follow the guidelines and procedures for such grade changes published by the registrar.

Michigan paid search firm $320K for Prez who couldn’t keep his pants zipped

He was also a hypocrite, but that’s part of the job description. From the Detroit Free Press tonight:

The University of Michigan Board of Regents has unanimously fired school President Mark Schlissel for cause following an investigation into a relationship with a subordinate, the board announced Saturday evening.

In a letter to Schlissel posted on the school website, the board spelled out its concerns and said his conduct was “particularly egregious considering your knowledge of and involvement in addressing incidents of harassment by University of Michigan personnel, and your declared commitment to work to ‘free’ the University community of sexual harassment or other improper conduct.”

From 2014:

University of Michigan paid a presidential search firm at least $320,000 in the hunt for the school’s next leader, Mark Schlissel.

The 56-year-old Schlissel was tapped U-M’s 14th president on Jan. 24, roughly six months after the school launched a top-secret, nationwide search for a leader to replace retiring President Mary Sue Coleman.

Dear AD Mullens: The Cartel has learned that you may be paying your players for their concussions.

FWIW Carol Cartwright, one the AGB consultants currently interviewing stakeholders about the performance or lack of performance of Oregon’s university boards, is also on the NCAA Infractions committee that enforces the cartel’s rules against paying athletes. Why would someone take that despicable job? And wouldn’t it be an obvious conflict of interest to do it at the same time you’re doing paid consulting work for universities?