UO administration removes CO2 Divest banner from Johnson Hall bush

10/10/2018: Reposted for the historical record.

When you’re running down our First Amendment, you’re walking on the fightin side of me:

4/6/2016 update: The day Merle Haggard died? Have our administrators no sense of patriotism? Or irony? More on the troubling response from the UO Foundation CIO here.

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3/29/2016 update: Press Conference on the Johnson Hall steps, Facebook event page here.

Our students have been conducting a quiet CO2 Divestment sit-in the Johnson Hall lobby for months. The administration has banned their banner from the bush outside JH, and now the students are apparently going to reassert their free-speech rights.

Do they have the right to put up the banner? I’m no lawyer, but here’s some UO history. Back in 2010, former UO GC Randy Geller wanted to change UO policy to implement “Free Speech Zones”, outside of which First Amendment rights would be tightly controlled. This was in reaction to the Pacifica Forum incidents. Geller’s policy starts on page 13 here. It’s funnier than Animal Farm.

Free speech is indispensable, but:

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UO will restrict Free Speech, except inside the Free Speech Zones, and even then you’ll need insurance and maybe a reservation:

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No unapproved banners outside free speech zones – and don’t even think about posting the video on the internets:

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Oh yeah, no camping or chalk either. Chalk? What’s that about?

All of Geller’s silly language above was rejected by the UO Senate and it is not UO policy. 

The Facilities Use Policy that was adopted instead is at http://policies.uoregon.edu/policy/by/1/04-facilities/facilities-scheduling. It turned Geller’s policy on its ass, by limiting the areas UO can control to buildings and “scheduled outdoor spaces” i.e. the EMU amphitheater. The Senate rejected all of Geller’s anti-free speech, anti-banner, and anti-chalk language.

The Facilities Use policy is paired with the powerful Free Speech and Inquiry policy, at http://policies.uoregon.edu/policy/by/1/01-administration-and-governance/freedom-inquiry-and-free-speech:

Free speech is central to the academic mission and is the central tenet of a free and democratic society. The University encourages and supports open, vigorous, and challenging debate across the full spectrum of human issues as they present themselves to this community. Further, as a public institution, the University will sustain a higher and more open standard for freedom of inquiry and free speech than may be expected or preferred in private settings.

How much clearer could this be? It’s not like the CO2 Divestment students are doing anything reprehensible, like using chalk.

3/13/2016: UO bans students’ fossil fuel divestment banner from a bush? Continue reading

NY Times Editors: Resist UO administration’s plan to arrest peaceful protestors

Update: The Daily Emerald’s Emma Henderson reports on student opposition to the restrictions, which the administration has given the Orwellian title of “The Time, Place, Manner and Protection of Speech Policy”.

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.

Our administration is not alone in proposing these sorts of restrictions, and this Sunday the New York Times editorial page took aim at them all:

While their proponents say the bills and initiatives are needed to protect public safety and ensure civility, these efforts would crush the right of free protest at a time when key American principles and institutions are under attack.

Link here:

UO Divest sit-in wins the day, as Foundation’s Jay Namyet joins CO2 boycott

9/12/2016: The Emerald has the story here, and it’s on the UO Divest facebook page here. Back in April, Foundation CFO Jay Namyet was writing nastygrams like this to our students about their efforts to get the secretive UO Foundation to join the CO2 divestment movement:

Subject: RE: follow up meeting
Date: 2016/03/30 14:14
From: Jay Namyet <[email protected]>
To: [UO Divest undergraduate student]

[UO Divest undergraduate student],
No, indeed we did not. As I told you, based on your conduct, our dialogue was over. I hope in years to come you will appreciate a life’s lesson in this affair. That is what a university experience is all about.

From: [UO Divest undergraduate student]
Sent: Wednesday, March 30, 2016 2:11 PM
To: Jay Namyet <[email protected]>
Subject: RE: follow up meeting

Hi Jay,
I know we didn’t end our last meeting on the best note, but we’d be happy to try and get a fresh start and meet again to discuss divestment sometime this term if you’re willing. Let me know.
[UO Divest undergraduate student]

On 2015/04/09 18:30, Jay Namyet wrote:
Great, we are in agreement then, no more dialogue.
Sent from Outlook [1]


On 2015/04/09 10:05, Jay Namyet wrote:

[UO Divest undergraduate student],

When I asked you all why you were meeting with the president, the response I got was to learn his personal thoughts about this issue.

Turns out, not really.

As is indicated by [UO Divest undergraduate student] below in [pronoun redacted] email to the president’s office, and just as you three did with me this morning, this is about pressing your argument for divestment even though you have already received responses from all parties involved.

I offered an olive branch to you all last meeting and was the basis for today’s meeting. You all chose to ignore that and continue to beat the same drum of divestment.

I don’t appreciate being lied to about your intent of meeting with the president and I don’t appreciate your not honoring the reason for meeting today with me.

As a result, you have now lost the opportunity for further dialogue with me.


I’m mystified as to why Namyet didn’t want the students to talk to the President of their university, but whatever.

After a Johnson Hall sit-in, a free-speech controversy that sucked in FIRE, and some outraged letters from UO donors he and Weinhold came back to the table, and are now true believers:

Investment Management Statement

The University of Oregon Foundation is an independent, non-profit organization that exists for the sole purpose of supporting the academic mission of the university. We carry out our mission through prudent investment management, maximizing the value of private gifts for the benefit of the university and honoring donor intent.
Our strategy is to invest in a diverse set of smart, longer-term investments. This approach has created a well-diversified, progressive portfolio whose performance ranks in the top 10 percent nationally of all university endowments. Our philosophy and approach are guided by making prudent, socially and environmentally responsible investments that advance the financial objectives needed to support the university’s academic mission.
We are proud to lead the Pac-12 in adopting the first ever environmental, social and governance considerations to help inform our investment decisions. We believe that green energy initiatives, such as solar and wind power, sustainable forestry, and organic farming will steadily replace investments in carbon-based fuel sources, and we do not have any investments in coal. We intend to let those carbon-based investments –which were initiated many years ago– expire without renewal, ending our investment in carbon-based fuel sources.
Our responsibility is to balance financial support for today’s students, faculty and staff, with those of future generations at the university. We are currently providing more than $45 million each year in direct student, academic and operational funding to support the academic growth of our university and students. We are pleased that with our approach, we continue to successfully deliver on that mission.
Jay Namyet
Chief Investment Officer


4/22/2016:  Students arrange marriage of Duck & CO2, mock secretive UO Foundation

Continue reading

UO Board meetings video: Senate myths, Divest UO, Deady denaming, etc

The UO BOT does not post videos of the board meetings – so UO Matters operatives will do it for them. More to come. (Links fixed, thanks.)

Randy Sullivan’s farewell speech to the Board: “Six Myths the UO Trustees believe about the University Senate” starts at https://youtu.be/qn1T21TlS_0?t=2h8m2s

Faculty Union President Michael Dreiling explains to the Trustees how UO gives its students education in science, finance, and politics – and they’re now using it to fight for CO2 reductions. Starts at https://youtu.be/qn1T21TlS_0?t=1h8m9s, the students follow Dreiling.

UO alumni and faculty use the Black Students campaign to rename Deady and the Boards public comment period to teach us all a little Oregon history. Starts at https://youtu.be/qn1T21TlS_0?t=1h36m2s. I’m hoping history lessons will become a regular part of the board meetings. I’m working on a talk about Treetops, Phimister Proctor, and Irene Hazard Gerlinger.

ASUO Student Government President Helena Schlegel – chased off the board by Chair Chuck Lillis – returns for a postscript. starts at https://youtu.be/qn1T21TlS_0?t=1h57m45s

Duck PR flack Tobin Klinger exercises free-speech right to praise his employer


The Daily Emerald has the latest on the administration’s removal of the Divest UO banner, from reporter Max Thornberry here:

… [UO Strategic Communicator Tobin Klinger], on the other hand, praised the university for creating an environment that fosters discussion and debate about the issues of the day.

“It comes down to the concept of an active protest,” Klinger said. “This is not an issue that relates to any kind of specific messaging. It has everything to do with facilities use.”

I may not agree with Klinger, but I’ll defend his right to collect a UO paycheck while saying nonsense like this – although $117,300 seems a bit high when we’re laying off humanities faculty.

Meanwhile it sounds like the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education is going to defend the right of UO students to use a bush outside UO’s administration building to raise public awareness about their CO2 Divestment campaign.

If you want to understand the real history of Klinger’s facilities use argument, go here and page down. In brief, here’s the language former UO General Counsel Randy Geller wanted to include in the facilities use policy, to restrict banners:

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The UO Senate rejected this language, along with the entire idea of limiting First Amendment rights to “free speech zones”. UO President Richard Lariviere did not agree to this language either. The language above is not UO policy. To the contrary UO debated it and rejected it. The Facilities Use Policy that the Senate agreed to, and which Lariviere signed, and which is current UO policy, does not restrict our students’ right to use banners to encourage vigorous debate about matters of public importance.

Eat the man’s chocolate

Diane Dietz has a thorough report on the student-led effort to get the UO Foundation to divest from fossil-fuel stocks, here. The students have been pushing this for years. Last year the students persuaded the UO Senate to unanimously endorse divestment – I think I was the last Senator to switch to their side. The Occupy Johnson Hall protest is very well organized – but:

At the start of the protest, Schill tried to make friends with the students who are lining his passageway. He put out a gift package of chocolates and cheeses, Divest UO campaign coordinator Kaia Hazard said, adding the students wouldn’t touch it.

“We really don’t want to accept anything less than divestment,” she said.

Yes, but eat the chocolate. It shows him you’re keeping up your energy for the long haul. Back in the day we’d have smoked the man’s cigars too:

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UO Senate calls on UO Foundation to divest from fossil fuels

Jane Cramer and John Davidson have an Op-Ed in the RG, here:

The resolution calls on the UO Foundation to:

Sell its current investments in fossil fuel extraction companies.

Refrain from any future investment in fossil fuel extraction companies.

Create a process for groups to put policy proposals to the foundation board.

Create new transparency and accountability mechanisms.

Include students and faculty in setting foundation policy.

The resolution also calls on the UO president to support these requests to the foundation.