FIRE files four free speech suits, one supporting faculty muckraking blog

This is good news, just in time to celebrate the 4th of July:

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a.k.a., has just announced a major new legal initiative. In the past FIRE has worked as an advocacy group, and co-ordinated free speech lawsuits on behalf of students and faculty. Now they have some serious new funding and have hired “preeminent First Amendment attorney Robert Corn-Revere of the national law firm Davis Wright Tremaine as counsel for students and faculty members participating in the Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project.” Pursuing a lawsuit can take up a lot of time and money that people may not have, especially students, however, you can get lawsuit funding for your case within a short period of time if it is needed right away, from companies like Legal-Bay Lawsuit Funding, don’t be afraid to ask for help.

I’ve had a few talks with FIRE and with a DWT lawyer over what I saw as attempts by UO and the UO Foundation to harass and retaliate against me for this blog. (For example, UO F, and UO.) The DWT lawyer spent several hours with me on the phone, and more on email. I asked what the bill was, and he laughed and said “nothing – this is a really interesting one, and these people are hilarious.”

These people are passionate about the importance of free speech in academia, and from what I can tell they know the law cold. And now they’ve got money, too. Today FIRE started off by filing four free-speech lawsuits, and they say more are coming. The most interesting case, from my perspective, is this:

At Chicago State University, administrators have repeatedly attempted to silence CSU Faculty Voice, a blog authored by Professors Phillip Beverly, Robert Bionaz, and other faculty members that exposes what they see as administrative corruption. After bogus accusations of trademark infringement failed to intimidate the professors, CSU hastily adopted a far-reaching cyberbullying policy to silence its critics. It then used the cyberbullying policy to investigate one of the faculty bloggers for harassment, leading to today’s lawsuit from Beverly and Bionaz.

The full complaint is here:

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FIRE redlights UO’s student conduct codes over free speech issues

The people at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education are dogged fighters for campus free speech rights. They’ve now given UO a “red-light warning” on its free speech policies, as explained here. While UO has a strong policy on freedom of speech, signed by President Lariviere and approved by the Senate, the interpretation by the Office of Student Conduct is significantly less liberal. For example, that office says that it is a violation of the student conduct code for a student to use curse words in an email to a professor. I don’t have many grad students who could pass that standard! FIRE also raises questions about the legality of the language UO uses regarding prohibited racial harassment. Their letter to President Gottfredson, asking for a response by June 26, is here:

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UO unions call on Gottfredson to sign Academic Freedom Policy

Today’s Register Guard has an op-ed on Academic Freedom from the presidents of the UO graduate student union (David Craig), the UO faculty union (Michael Dreiling), and the UO staff union (Carla McNeely):

On April 9, the elected UO Senate unanimously approved a statement on academic freedom that is among the strongest in the country. The policy commits the UO to supporting “open, vigorous, and challenging debate across the full spectrum of human issues as they present themselves to the university community.”

The policy specifically protects academic freedom in the areas of research, teaching, public service and shared governance. It affirms that “members of the university community have freedom to address, question, or criticize any matter of institutional policy or practice, whether acting as individuals or as members of an agency of institutional governance.”

… If the Beavers can do it, why not the Ducks?

Good question. Perhaps the president of the UO administration, Mike Gottfredson, will commission a responding op-ed from his $207K lawyer Randy Geller, or his $218k strategic communicator Tim Gleason, or his $450 an hour backup lawyer Dave Frohnmayer?

I’m on the Senate ad hoc Freedom committee, and can report that the sticking point for President Gottfredson is giving students and staff “the freedom to address, question, or criticize any matter of institutional policy or practice”. 

That’s right, under Gottfredson’s version of Academic Freedom, the student and staff who signed this op-ed could be subject to institutional discipline for it.

Gottfredson should get over his weird obsession with controlling what people say, sign the policy already, and let us all get back to our jobs.

Senate to strip Geller of his powers?

4/8/2014 update: Not entirely, but this new UO legal services policy, to be debated and voted on at the Senate meeting this Wednesday, will sure put a crimp in his style. Among other sensible and long overdue restraints on our chief attorney:

Prior to any decision to participate in litigation not directly involving the University as a party by filing an amicus curiae brief, the General Counsel shall notify the President of the Senate of the intention to do so.

Kudos to Gordon Sayre (English) and Tom Lininger (Law) for getting this done. Maybe Geller will react by firing off another email like this one?

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Or this unlawyerly stupidity, which made it into the Oregonian?

4/2/2014: Randy Geller’s anti-free speech brief fails, OSU pays out $101K

In brief: UO paid our General Counsel to help write an anti-free speech brief to the SCOTUS. From the timing, it looks like President Gottfredson authorized this.

Back in 2009 OSU staff trashed the news boxes of a student publication called “The Liberty”. Liberty sued OSU over a First Amendment violation. The 9th circuit court said OSU should pay damages. OSU tried to appeal the case to the SCOTUS, and a group of other universities wrote an amicus brief, taking a firm first amendment stand: against free speech, and for the OSU administration. Our own Randy Geller joined in:

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Senate Freedom Committee draft policy

The Senate Ad Hoc Freedom Committee, chaired by Michael Dreiling (Sociology prof and faculty union president) has now met several times with President Gottfredson and his advisers. The Committee has posted its draft Academic Freedom policy on the Senate website, here, along with an explanatory memo. (Full disclosure: I am part of this committee, but for reasons I won’t go into I did not attend the meetings with the administration. All of the information in this post is from public sources.)

Perhaps the most interesting development, given the recent hubbub about Oregon State’s efforts to restrict employee’s access to public records, is the governance part of the draft policy, which discusses UO employee access to information.

Senate Workgroup Draft Policy on Academic Freedom January 7, 2014

This policy on Academic Freedom builds on existing commitments to Freedom of Inquiry and Free Speech at this institution and elsewhere by defining additional freedoms that are specific to the proper functioning of our academic institution. Academic Freedom exists in the contexts of scholarship, teaching, governance, and public service.

• SCHOLARSHIP. The University’s research mission requires that faculty and students have autonomous freedom to conduct research and produce creative work, and to publish and disseminate that work, limited only by the standards and methods of accountability established by their profession and their individual disciplines.

• TEACHING. The University’s responsibility to help students to think critically and independently requires that faculty and students have the right to investigate and discuss matters, including those that are controversial, inside and outside of class, without fear of institutional restraint. Matters brought up in class should be related to the subject of courses or otherwise be educationally relevant, as determined primarily by the faculty member in charge of the class.

• GOVERNANCE. The university is governed by the faculty and the president, with authority delegated as appropriate by the faculty to the University Senate. Institutional policies and practices are informed by consultation and advice from the faculty, staff, and students. Therefore, members of the university community have freedom to address, question, or criticize any matter of institutional policy, action, or administration, whether acting as individuals or as members of an agency of institutional governance. In the context of governance, consultation and advice requires timely and meaningful access by staff, students and faculty to information pertinent to institutional policies and actions, whether such requests arise from a university member acting from an agency of institutional governance, or as an individual.

• PUBLIC SERVICE. Public service requires that members of the university have freedom to participate in public debate, both within and beyond their areas of expertise, and to address both the university community and the larger community with regard to any matter of social, political, economic, cultural, or other interest. In their exercise of this freedom, university community members have the right to identify their association or title as university faculty, staff, or students, but should not claim to be acting or speaking on behalf of the University unless authorized to do so.

The academic freedoms enumerated in this policy shall be exercised without fear of institutional reprisal. Only serious violations of this policy – ones that rise to the level of professional misbehavior or professional incompetence – should lead to adverse consequences. Any such determinations shall be made only in accordance with established, formal procedures involving judgment by peers in the profession and not by administrators. These freedoms are rights protected by the university. This policy shall be incorporated in employment agreements and comparable corresponding contractual agreements with university employees.

This policy, when approved by the UO Senate and the President, shall be incorporated into the Faculty Handbook, the UO University Policy Library, and all letters of appointment or other contractual agreements.

UO Foundation claims defamation and demands retraction from UO Matters

11/12/13: I recently received the “demand for retraction” below, from Thomas Herrmann, legal counsel to the UO Foundation, presumably writing on instruction from the Foundation’s Chairman Jon Anderson, a former marathon runner with longtime Nike connections, and the Foundation’s 2013 Chair-elect and committed athletics booster Stephen Holwerda. A bio-piece on Mr Holwerda in the Portland Business Tribune notes:

Greatest passions: Oregon pinot noir, sports, antique mechanical banks.
First choice for a new career: I started out in athletic administration, and if I had to pick a second career it would be to go back to working for the University of Oregon’s athletic department. Go Ducks.

[Above updated to note that Anderson is Chair, Holwerda is Chair Elect. Thanks, commenter.]

The post he objects to is here:

The ORS 31.200-31.225 statute that Mr. Herrmann cites in his take-down demand is titled “Liability of radio or television station personnel for defamation”. 31.205 discusses “Damages recoverable for defamation by radio, television, motion pictures, newspaper or printed periodical”. So I guess I am a professional news organization, at least in the eyes of the UO Foundation. Section 31.215 lays out the following procedure for retraction demands:

(1) The demand for correction or retraction shall be in writing, signed by the defamed person or the attorney of the person and be delivered to the publisher of the defamatory statement, either personally, by registered mail or by certified mail with return receipt at the publishers place of business or residence within 20 days after the defamed person receives actual knowledge of the defamatory statement. The demand shall specify which statements are false and defamatory and request that they be corrected or retracted. The demand may also refer to the sources from which the true facts may be ascertained with accuracy.

(2)The publisher of the defamatory statement shall have not more than two weeks after receipt of the demand for correction or retraction in which to investigate the demand; and, after making such investigation, the publisher shall publish the correction or retraction in:

(a)The first issue thereafter published, in the case of newspapers, magazines or other printed periodicals.

(b)The first broadcast or telecast thereafter made, in the case of radio or television stations.

(c)The first public exhibition thereafter made, in the case of motion picture theaters.

(3)The correction or retraction shall consist of a statement by the publisher substantially to the effect that the defamatory statements previously made are not factually supported and that the publisher regrets the original publication thereof.

(4)The correction or retraction shall be published in substantially as conspicuous a manner as the defamatory statement. [Formerly30.165]

I have received a plethora of advice on how to respond to this threat. Several attorneys have looked at it, and my post, and said that they do not think that my language is an accusation of criminal activity, particularly given the full context of the post. They have suggested I call the Foundation’s bluff and then file an anti-SLAPP countersuit against them, if they proceed with a lawsuit against me.

I was also told that that the language in Mr. Herrmann’s blustery last paragraph would be quite helpful in a counter-suit, given that anti-SLAPP laws such as Oregon’s are specifically designed to make it difficult to use defamation lawsuits to limit public discussion, as his threat seemingly proposes to do.

One reader suggested that I offer to replace the phrase that the Foundation claims to interpret as an accusation of criminal activity, i.e. “money laundering cash for the Duck Athletic Fund”, with something like “lovingly laundering sweaty jockstraps for the Duck athletic department”. Thanks for this proposal, really.

In the end, I decided to follow the precedent established by noted barrister John Cleese. Mr. Herrmann, you may take this video as my response, in full, to your threatening letter:

The DVD  is available from Amazon for $14.98, here.

Meanwhile, back in Chicago:

Chicago State University seems to have some of the same insider dealing issues that have troubled UO. Check out their “Crony State University” blog, written by 8 faculty. Impressive.

They’ve also been served with a takedown notice. News stories in the Chicago TribuneInsideHigherEd and Chronicle. (Thanks to Margaret Soltan’s ever interesting blog for the link).

Wed Senate meeting on academic freedom and legal services

Update: UO administration time-travels back to 2009, finalizes UO’s draft Academic Plan.

For four years, the official copy of UO’s Academic Plan – ballyhooed today by President Gottfredson in the Senate – made clear it was just a draft:

Now it’s suddenly been post-dated a day, and it’s final.

Sporadic Senate live-blogging. Wednesday 11/13/13 3:00PM, 282 Lillis. 

Disclaimer: My opinions of what people said, meant, or should have said. Nothing is a quote unless in quotes.

Senate Meeting Agenda – November 13, 2013

282 Lillis, 3:00-5:00 p.m.
3:00 pm 1. Call to Order
3:05 pm 2. Approval of Minutes October 9, 2013

Lin raises question on the calculation of 2/3 majority. Simonds replies abstentions don’t count, Paris agrees, refers him to Robert’s Rules.

Stahl checked the video, asks for re-insertion of a sentence regarding no-confidence votes and executive session. Paris has already done it.

3:10 pm 3. State of the University
3.1 Remarks by President Gottfredson

(I’m wondering if he’ll talk about the plan by OUS Chancellor Rose and Matt Donegan to renew his contract til 2016, without consulting UO Senate? Their meeting is scheduled for Friday. First they fire Lariviere without consulting us, now they tie the hands of the new UO Trustees by extending Gottfredson’s contract for two years past the date the Trustees take power.)

Shout out to faculty committees hard work.
Outstanding group of board members. CBA was great achievement.
Added many, many more TT faculty (20?) smarter students, new buildings, new capital campaign.
SB 270 was great accomplishment, new freedoms for campus and board, we can sell bonds.
Great path forward. Outstanding board, couldn’t be better.
We need a strategic plan for resources. 2009 Ac Plan is a great plan. He doesn’t seem to be joking.
Benchmarking report. We are a great research university but we need more money.
Coltrane is tasked with developing a Strategic Plan, is tasked with actually talking to the faculty. Campus forums, etc.
Three central goals: Excellence, Access, Money.
1) Need more faculty – 60 TTF right away. We’ve got $ for about 30. Wants more than that.
2) Need more grad students to boost research. Need more money for grad fellowships. Need more buildings.
3) Need big endowment increase.
Vague generalities about targeting. 15 months on the job, nothing more specific?
We’re in the quiet phase of fundraising now, making key fundraising hires, talking to big donors.

We got a little more state money last year, hope to get more.

Word about the Shelton’s budget model: Lots of concerns about lack of support for research and grad students, manipulation like Doug Blandy did in AAD. Need to change it. Modest changes, to make better strategic decisions, graduate education.

Provost is appointing an advisory group to get input on budget model and strategic spending, without going through the Senate!

Academic Freedom – very exciting meeting with Senate group on this last week (I wasn’t in the room with him, but like the motion.) He’s now very pro freedom. Quite a change from what Geller, Blandy and Gleason were doing during the bargaining.

On athletic subsidies: Complex matter, must be careful. He’s met a couple times with Senate leadership on the Senate motion, wouldn’t let Harbaugh in the room. 

Provost Search, expects campus visits in January or so.

Searches for Ombud, Library Head, Dean or two.

Very exciting time, …

Paris: Any questions? 

Q: On academic freedom. What were your objections to last years policy, other than divide it in two.
A: We had a bump in the road. We’re on the right path now.
Followup: Are you supportive of the language as written?
A: Avoids question.

Q: You mentioned strategic plan. Seems very top down. What should units do to align with it? Can you share it?
A: Yes, 2009 Academic Plan. (That plan’s a joke, was never even completed, Bean dropped the ball.) Also need Strategic Capital Campaign.

3:30 pm 4. New Business

4.1 Motion to Form an Administrative Advisory Group for Equity and Inclusion; Senator Kassia Dellabough (AAA)

Long discussion of admin appointing AAG groups outside the Senate. Harbaugh moves to amend to require consultation with the Senate Exec and a vote of the Senate on the membership. Amendment passes, motion passes with full support. Very good precedent. Diversity stuff can get contentious, need faculty buy-in and consultation.

4.2 Motion to Approve Updated Environmental Policy; Senate President Margie Paris (Law)

Postponed due to desire to get to the legal services and freedom stuff.

4.3 Motion to Approve Legal Services Policy Proposal; Senate President Margie Paris (Law)

Postponed. Geller took a knife to it. See his changes here:

4.4 Motion to Rescind Academic Freedom/Freedom of Speech Policy Proposal; Michael Dreiling (CAS – Social Sciences)

Randy Sullivan: Supports. Passes on unanimous voice vote:

4.5 Motion to Create Liaison Between Senate and United Academics of the University of Oregon; Senator Rob Kyr (Music)

Removed for now, needs more discussion to discuss principles and rules.

4.6 Motion to Create Working Group on Campus Planning; Senator Rob Kyr (Music)

passes unan.

4:30 pm 5. Reports

5.1 Report on Committee on Committees’ ten-year review and composition of working groups; Senator Rob Kyr (Music)

Has volunteers, will appoint soon, will have meetings and reports, then motions in April or so.

5.2 Report on the PAC-12 Faculty Leadership Coalition Conference – Senator Rob Kyr (Music)

5.2 Report on Senate-Administration Joint Review of the Office of Research, Innovation, and Graduate Education (RIGE); Bruce Blonigen (Economics)

Blonigen reports. Notes this is late. Committee is meeting with lots of people, looking to hear about interactions, areas for improvement in office, general research at UO. Has an outline of a report, still needs input from others, expect report to be ready by Jan.

5.3 Report on creation of Fee for Services Committee; Senate President Margie Paris (Law)

Goal is to have a committee by next meeting.

4:50 pm 6. Announcements and Communication from the Floor

Sorry, can’t type fast enough, missed some.

Stahl postpones ROTC motion, so students can participate
Harbaugh gives notice of motion on IAC confidentiality and transparency
Harbaugh gives notice of motion on ending athletic subsidies

4:55 pm 7. Other Business

5:00 pm 8. Adjournment

11/11/2013 update: The Senate will have remarks by President Gottfredson (I hope including solid progress and numbers on last year’s resolution to reduce athletic subsidies).

On Wednesday the Senate will vote on policies to limit Randy Geller’s control over legal services, and to strengthen academic freedom. As explained below, the motion to “rescind academic freedom” actually will allow the Senate to strengthen academic freedom.

Regardless of whether or not the motion to rescind the 2013 academic freedom / free speech policy proposal (left unsigned by Pres Gottfredson, therefore not in effect) passes, the very strong 2010 policy on freedom of speech and inquiry (which is also incorporated into the CBA) will remain in place while the Senate develops a new academic freedom policy. Last time we barely had a quorum, people should show up for this meeting and these votes. The Senate has sent around this statement on the academic freedom motion:

Dear Senators, 

I am writing with an update and some clarification regarding the Motion to Rescind Academic Freedom/Freedom of Speech Policy Proposal coming up on this week’s agenda. Please note that the text of this motion has been slightly modified for clarity, and now reads:

“THEREFORE BE IT MOVED, That the University Senate rescinds the policy that it adopted in April 2013, which was not subsequently signed by the University President and therefore is not in force: 

That the Senate Academic Freedom Work Group will continue to work with the University President to draft a strong academic freedom policy. 

That this motion and its preamble be preserved and prominently displayed on the University Senate website in conjunction with the existing Freedom of Inquiry and Free Speech policy for the guidance of faculty, staff, and students and that it not be removed from any present or future version of the University Senate website without an explicit and properly noticed motion by the University Senate.” 

The University Senate workgroup on Academic Freedom offers the following information regarding the Motion to Rescind the 2013 Academic Freedom and Free Speech Policy proposal: 

The motion to rescind is directed to the April 2013 Senate policy proposal – which has not been signed by the President – and is therefore not in force. This simply means that the April 2013 policy, adopted by the Senate but not in force, will be rescinded if the motion passes. This would leave the current 2010 University Policy on Freedom of Inquiry and Free Speech in place as the University Senate workgroup continues to meet with President Gottfredson on this matter. The motion is intended to procedurally “clear the table” so that the workgroup and President Gottfredson can identify mutually agreeable improvements. The Senate workgroup is comprised of Professor Michael Dreiling (Chair), Senate President Margie Paris, Professor John Bonine, Professor Deb Merskin, Professor Bill Harbaugh, and Professor John Davidson. If the Senate concurs, regular reports on the progress of discussions between the Senate workgroup and President Gottfredson will be presented to the University Senate.


The motion to rescind is for the policy proposal adopted by the Senate in April 2013, not signed by the President and not in force:
Policy that is currently in force and will remain in force if the motion is adopted: University Policy on Freedom of Inquiry and Free Speech (2010): 

We hope this information will help as you consider this motion. Please feel free to let me know if you have any questions I may be able to help answer. 

All the best,
Lisa Mick Shimizu
Executive Coordinator
University of Oregon Senate

Senate MMXXIII:I Free speech, legal services. Wed 10/9 at 3PM, 282 Lillis


  • I apologize for the skimpy notes below.
  • The Senate spent a fair amount of time on the Academic Freedom policy passed in April, but never signed by President Gottfredson. Neither Gottfredson nor Randy Geller was present to explain precisely what objections the administration had. Senate Pres Paris appointed a committee consisting of John Bonine (Law), John Davidson (Poli Sci), Michael Dreiling (Poli Sci), Bill Harbaugh (Econ) and Deb Merskin (Journ) to find out what their problem is, and what language President Gottfredson will accept. 
  • We also discussed procedures for motions of no-confidence. President Paris agreed with others that any such motions would be debated publicly.
  • Low turnout, and the Senate still has a bunch of unfilled seats. 

Senate Meeting Agenda – October 9, 2013 282 Lillis, 3:00-5:00 p.m. 

Live video here.

3:00 pm 1. Call to Order

3:05 pm 2. Approval of Minutes

May 8, 2013 

May 22, 2013

3:10 pm 

No quorum yet, so no votes on minutes.

3.  State of the University

President Gottfredson will miss this, he’s schmoozing with the “UO Portland Council” at White-Stag. Anyone know what this council is? Google has never heard of it. Presumably they’ll be talking about whether or not UO should renew the $2.4M lease on the Portland clubhouse.

Coltrane delivers speech. Good incoming students. New need-based scholarships have increased number of Pell students. GPA also up. 535 new Pathway Oregon students, vs 400 last year.

80 new faculty (gross, not net). Only 35 are TTF. “More diverse than the faculty look”. OK, they look different. Do the think different?

I’ve been busy with board and collective bargaining.

New board confirmed soon, need to work on by-laws etc. I wonder who’s in charge of that.

New CBA will help NTTF’s, standardizes practices. Implementation of policy will come through Senate and Pres. Lots of work.

$300M in new buildings, but we couldn’t afford to follow through with plan to raise faculty salary to comparators.

Gottfredson will now turn his attention to internal issues. Strategic plan for capital program. Try to stay in AAU. Hire 4-5 new faculty in strategic areas. Budget model needs work. Years of growth. Graduate student ratios “are a little out of our norm”.

Q: What do you mean by attention to the budget model?

A: Shelton has a technical task force working on the plumbing. There’s a “Budget Committee” that includes Senate members. Maybe move away from the tax to ?. Pres is concerned about funding research and graduate education. Need private money to secure our place as a research university.

Q: When you say graduate education, will that include law school grad program?

A: Yes. Need more money for grad fellowships including law.

Followup comment: Gott is absent, and missed half of the Senate meetings last year. Did he also miss FAC meetings.

Paris: We’ve now got a quorum, minutes are approved. Need a Senator for the IFS. 6 meetings a year. Kyr is nominated, approved unanimously.

3:20 pm 

4. New Business

4.1 Introductions; Margie Paris (Senate President)

Lisa, new Senate coordinator is introduced.

4.2 Orientation; Margie Paris (Senate President)

Paris runs through handy slide. See link. Board of Trustees at the top, followed by statutory faculty, Assembly, Senate.

More than 2 unexcused absences and you are off the Senate. Good rule.

Decorum: We will obey Robert’s rules, with help of Paul Simonds!

Q: Can we get a better room? Not this time.

Good idea to correspond with your constituents. Read the agenda, email them with motions in advance.

Stahl: Are all the administrative advisory groups that have been set up an abrogation of Senate authority?

Paris: Good question. We should look into it.

4.3 Election for IFS Senator; Margie Paris (Senate President)

3:45 pm 

5. Open Discussion

5.1 Academic Freedom/Freedom of Speech policy; Margie Paris (Senate President)

Last April’s Senate policy proposal had some clear language on freedom of speech and a clear call to incorporate this into the faculty union contract:

Freedom of Speech 

All University employees retain the right to address any matter of institutional policy or action without fear of institutional discipline or restraint. They also are guaranteed the protections of freedom of speech with regard to any matter, so long as it is clear that they are not acting or speaking on behalf of the University. 

Contractual Force of Policy 

This Policy on Academic Freedom and Freedom of Speech shall be given contractual force by incorporation into pertinent contractual and collective bargaining agreements and individual letters of appointment. It shall be incorporated into the Faculty Handbook and the UO University Policy Library.

President Gottfredson refused to sign it, and his union bargaining team adamantly opposed putting it in the collective bargaining agreement. Gottfredson got some national ridicule and backed down, a little. Now the Senate is going to decide how to respond. My understanding is that the UO constitution calls for the President to defend himself to the faculty assembly in these situations.

Paris: Update on academic freedom. Pres was required to adopt this w/in 60 days or come back to Senate. Gottfredson did this, requesting that the policy be split into two: one on academic freedom, one on freedom of speech. Then the AY ended.

Gottfredson will come to the Senate in November and explain.

Harbaugh: So he wants it split but didn’t say how? Why don’t we ask him to split it or do it ourselves?

Kyr: Motion for a group to get this done quick?

Bonine: Pres was obligated to make this request w/in 60 days. Hubin says that the message could be interpreted as a request for a delay, which is allowed. Goes into Garcetti and new Demers 9th circuit opinion.

Current free speech policy:

Senate votes to set up another committee to try and deal with this. approved 17 to 8.

Group will include Bonine, Harbaugh, Davidson, Dreiling.

5.2 Virtual Accreditation Review; Robert Kyr (Music)

4:00 pm 6. Reports

6.1 Carryover from 2012-2013

6.1.1 Report: Legal Services Policy; Margie Paris (Senate President)

This policy is one of General Counsel Randy Geller’s power grabs. The Senate beat him off last fall. From the live-blog:

3.1 Motion (Policy Adoption): Legal Representation Policy; Margie Paris (Law), Senate President-Elect and Chair, Legal Representation Policy Review Committee

Geller’s draft: 

That would certainly be an improvement. 

Kyr reads the motion. It spells out the GC’s responsibility to provide high quality legal assistance. Authorizes Randy to provide legal opinions about UO stuff, and hire high priced legal help from Harrang et al. New language removes Randy’s monopoly on providing legal advice to faculty, students. We have the right to seek legal advice – revolutionary. UO shall defend employees against acts of omission, including those in teaching, research, service. (Merle Weiner clause). Employees may be reimbursed for legal expenses, especially if there’s a conflict of interest. 

Paris: Originally drafted by Geller’s office, would have given you the red-lined version but it’s all red. Tublitz proposed 2 amendments today, want to add these. Right to legal advice: what if Senate wants alternative, competent legal advice? Amendments allows this. 

Mitchell, Harbaugh: SB242 took away DOJ’s monopoly on legal service to OUS institutions. Minor problem for some of the wording. 

Lamar Wise: ASUO supports motion because it gives chance to get out from under Geller. Stahl: Hold back til we get the DOJ thing figured out. Sullivan: Geller represents the administration. If he’s defending an employee, who’s the client? Paris: Let’s go back and research this stuff. Good call. Kyr: We will make Geller show his mug at the next meeting. Meanwhile, direct questions to Paris. Postponed.

We’ll see if Randy shows his face for today’s discussion: 

Nope, no Randy. Shocking.

Paris: We’re kicking this can down the road to the Board of Trustees. So no vote, the motion is tabled.

6.1.2 Report: 10th Year Review; Robert Kyr (Music)

Kyr: This has now become the 12th year review. Passes around signup sheet for volunteers to staff committees to revisit charges of the committees.

6.2 PAC-12 Faculty Leadership Coalition Conference Update; Robert Kyr (Music)

Kyr will go and report.

6.3 Forming an Administrative Advisory Group: VPOEI Yvette Alex-Assensoh (Equity and Inclusion)

The administration has become addicted to using these AAG’s to do an end run on shared governance through the Senate. No charge, handpicked faculty members. Hubin’s Public Records AAG is the most nefarious example. Gottfredson’s Budget Advisory Group is another.

Alex-Assensoh, VP for Equity, wants to form an AAG and actually wants to do it through the Senate. Respect. What do we have to do to get the rest of our administration to do sensible things like this.

6.4 Update on Coalition on Intercollegiate Athletics; Margie Paris (Senate President)

Tublitz has been serving as liaison to this, without a formal process. Senate Exec has apppointed him for the rest of the year, then we’ll have a formal process.

4:45 pm 7. Announcements and Communication from the Floor

Stahl: Last year Senate voted to create a committee on proprietary research. What happened? Paris: We’ll have it by next meeting.

7.1 Notice of Motion (Legislation): Working Groups for Campus Planning and Non-tenure Track Instructional Faculty Committees; Robert Kyr (Music), Senator

7.2 Notice of Motion (Legislation): Academic Credit for ROTC; Frank Stahl, Professor Emeritus (Biology)

Stahl wants UO to stop giving academic credit for Military Science (ROTC). I think Napoleon said it best: Si vis bellum para pacem. Besides, you get to rappel out of helicopters – who can say no to that? But we should do something about their grading policy – last I looked it was almost as inflated as Doug Blandy’s notorious online AAD classes. The MIL classes are popular easy A’s for the student-athletes.

4:50 pm 8. Other Business

Stahl: Asks what happened to the motion last May for a vote of no confidence in Gottfredson?

Paris: I advised Senate to go into exec session, even though it was just a notice of motion. Maybe I was wrong.

Bonine: Exec sessions are not allowed on policy matters under Oregon public meetings law.

Harbaugh: So, if this happens again, god forbid, will we have a public discussion?

Paris: Yes, I believe so. Simonds agrees.

Bonine: Hell yes. Since we don’t have the power to fire the President, a vote of no confidence is *not* a personnel matter, and should not be secret.

Stahl follows up on procedures: Can the Senate Exec decide not to bring a motion forward?

Kyr: No.

5:00 pm 9. Adjournment

Adjourned 5 min early! Sweet!

Student frustrations with Gottfredson grow

6/8/2013: Powerful Op-Ed from UO undergrad Joe Jacklin in the RG on the investiture demonstration:

This was not some haphazard show of frustration where we all celebrated the fact that we’d caused a disruption. As reported in Diane Deitz’s May 31 article, we went so far as to apologize to Gottfredson for having to interrupt his ceremony during the microphone check. 

The fact is that it was one of the few times when we were even sure of where the president was going to be. Gottfredson has repeatedly ducked or avoided our groups’ requests for meetings. He has canceled scheduled meetings with campus workers after people had already shown up. 

To anyone who is familiar with our new president, none of this should come as a surprise. 

Not only has Gottfredson abandoned the interests of the students in proposing the tuition hike while raising administration salaries, but he has also abandoned the faculty of our beloved university (specifically sharing governance with them, and particularly on academic matters).

Jacklin’s LESST group’s website has more. Gottfredson’s public records office, which charged me $108 to see 6 months of his official calendar, is now trying to charge the students $240 for the most recent 5 months. Last I heard they were still trying to scrounge up the money. And the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education is reportedly questioning the efforts of Assistant Dean of Students Chicora Martin to move the demonstrators from Knight Court to some sort of unconstitutional “free speech zone”.

Meanwhile Gottfredon’s new chief of staff Greg Rikhoff still won’t say who is on Gottfredson’s “Budget Advisory Group”, much less produce copies of their charge or minutes. It’s been almost 3 weeks Greg. Update: Rikhoff just sent me the list of members, but not the committee’s charge. I’ve got a request in to Moffitt and Shelton, who co-chair it, for that and the minutes.

Football, sexual assaults, and free speech codes

5/14/2013: Sexual assaults by University of Montana football players lead the DOJ and DOE to require all universities to ban free speech about sex, as harassment. The DOJ report states:

A former University student informed the University that she had not reported being assaulted when she was a student because the person who assaulted her was a football player, football players could get away with whatever they wanted, and everyone would think she was bringing a false report. This begs the question, should women have access to self defence products, such as some of the strongest pepper spray to prevent these assaults from happening in the first place? Several community members, current students, and faculty members similarly indicated that football players are seen as being given undue favoritism and allowed to get away with anything, including sexual assault. For example, some people stated that the University and the community treat football players as if they are “Gods.” From spring 2009 to spring 2012, six football players were accused of aiding, attempting, or committing sexual assault through the University’s complaint procedures. Three of these players were involved in an assault where the University did not initiate SCC proceedings until almost a year after the coach had notice that the victim had filed a report with the Missoula Police Department.

Our government’s reaction is astonishing. No, it’s not to limit football excesses. That would be un-American. Instead they want to ban free speech. Eugene Volokh has the story on his well regarded law blog:

The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights is telling universities to institute speech codes. And not just any old speech codes: Under these speech codes, universities would be required to prohibit students from, for instance,
  1. saying “unwelcome” “sexual or dirty jokes”
  2. spreading “unwelcome” “sexual rumors” (without any limitation to false rumors”
  3. engaging in “unwelcome” “circulating or showing e-mails of Web sites of a sexual nature”
  4. engaging in “unwelcome” “display[] or distributi[on of] sexually explicit drawings, picture,s or written materials”
  5. making “unwelcome” sexual invitations.
This is not limited to material that a reasonable person would find offensive. Nor is limited to material that, put together, creates a “hostile, abusive, or offensive educational environment.” (I think even speech codes that would have these requirements are unconstitutional, but the speech codes that the government is urging would in any event not have these requirements.) Every instance of such material of a “sexual nature,” under the government’s approach, would be “sexual harassment” and would need to be banned.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education has more, here.

University president personally liable for expelling student over free speech

2/1/2013: The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education helped the student pursue the case:

A federal jury today found former Valdosta State University (VSU) President Ronald M. Zaccari personally liable for $50,000 for violating the due process rights of former student Hayden Barnes in the case of Barnes v. Zaccari. In May 2007, Zaccari expelled Barnes for peacefully protesting Zaccari’s plan to construct two parking garages on campus, calling a collage posted by Barnes on his personal Facebook page a “threatening document” and labeling Barnes a “clear and present danger” to VSU.

How the Ducks monitor Twitter

Update: Idaho athletic director Rob Spear suspends quarterback for tweeting that Idaho athletic director Rob Spear is “stupid”. And petty and insecure as well.

Chip Kelly got a lot of buzz for saying, in response to WSU coach Mike Leach’s twitter ban, “If you can’t trust a player with twitter, how are you going to trust them on third down?”:

Nice sound bite, but actually the Ducks don’t trust their players with twitter. Last year they hired a guy named Tom Hart, with this job task:

30% Monitoring athlete-agent activity and perform regular surveillance on campus, in the community and in cyberspace for the purposes of NCAA compliance and state law.

And of course talking to a reporter without permission can really get a UO athlete into trouble. Tom Hart’s full contract is here – lots of other interesting responsibilities. UO has refused to turn over his resume, but a commenter notes he has years of state police experience, including SWAT team and anti-terrorism training. Anyone got a photo of him? 10/26/2012.

Merry Xmas to bloggers and the First Amendment,

from the law professors at the The Volokh Conspiracy:

I’m pleased to report that our local counsel, Benjamin Souede of Angeli Law Group LLC, and I will be representing the defendant blogger in Obsidian Finance Group, LLC v. Cox (D. Or.); we will be filing a motion for new trial, and an appeal to the Ninth Circuit if the motion is denied.

Gertz v. Robert Welch, Inc. (1974) held that even private-figure libel plaintiffs (1) may not recover proven compensatory damages unless the defendant was at least negligent in its investigation, and (2) may not recover presumed or punitive damages unless the defendant knew the statement was false or recklessly disregarded a known and substantial risk that the statements were false. The District Court in Obsidian Finance held that the defendant was not entitled to the protection of Gertz, because she was not a member of the “media.” But as I’ve argued in my forthcoming University of Pennsylvania Law Review article, Freedom for the Press as an Industry, or for the Press as a Technology? From the Framing to Today, the First Amendment has historically been understood as protecting people who use mass communications technology equally, whether or not they are members of the institutional media. I much look forward to litigating this case, and, I hope, getting the District Court decision reversed.

Thanks to!/MarshallYoum for the link.

Elephants come to Matt Court

8/25/2011: Tickets here. Stefan Verbano of the RG explains the pros and cons. UO spokesperson Phil Weiler on the dispute:

“Free speech is central to the academic mission of any university, and
we want to let anyone on both sides of this issue to have their say,”
Weiler said.

Nice. I can’t remember the last time I heard that from the UO administration. OK, it was never. Any bets on how quickly they will give it up when things really get controversial? Very quickly. Last year the Commentator quoted our Dean of Students Paul Shang as saying:

Canada has limitations of speech. England, Israel, all kinds of democratic countries have different perspectives on unbridled speech. That is something that may become more of an issue as our country evolves.

As our country evolves to ….?