US17/18-02: Resolution to Support the UO Student Collective

Date of Notice: November 15, 2017

Current Status: Approved November 29, 2017

Motion Type: Resolution

Sponsor: Arian Mobasser, Student Senator


Motion

Section I

1.1 WHEREAS the Mission Statement of the University of Oregon states: “We value our diversity and seek to foster equity and inclusion in a welcoming, safe, and respectful community”; and

1.2 WHEREAS the UO Policy on Free Inquiry and Speech states “Free speechis central to the academic mission and is the central tenet of a free and democratic society.” [Emphasis added]; and

“The University supports free speech with vigor, including the right of presenters to offer opinion, the right of the audience to hear what is presented, and the right of protesters to engage with speakers in order to challenge ideas, so long as the protest does not disrupt or stifle the free exchange of ideas. It is the responsibility of speakers, listeners and all members of our community to respect others and to promote a culture of mutual inquiry throughout the University community.”; and

1.3 WHEREAS UO students have approached the UO administration with their concerns about UO policies and US policies that affect their well-being, safety, and academic success; and

1.4 WHEREAS the preamble of the Student Conduct Code reads:

“The primary mission of the Student Conduct Code is to set forth the community standards and procedures necessary to maintain and protect an environment conducive to learning and in keeping with the educational objectives of the University of Oregon. Founded upon the principle of freedom of thought and expression, an environment conducive to learning is one that preserves the freedom to learn — where academic standards are strictly upheld and where the rights, safety, dignity and worth of every individual are respected.” [Emphasis added]; and

1.5 WHEREAS overzealous disciplinary action against students may result in the repression of dissent and free speech and continues to harm these students’ academic success; and

1.6 WHEREAS UO officials have made public statements that may prejudice the adjudication of the alleged conduct code violations; and

1.7 WHEREAS the UO Policy on Academic Freedom says

“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.”

and

“These freedoms derive immediately from the university’s basic commitment to advancing knowledge and understanding. The academic freedoms enumerated in this policy shall be exercised without fear of institutional reprisal. Only serious abuses 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 in accordance with established, formal procedures involving judgment by relevant peers.”

and yet despite this requirement, relevant peers have not been involved in this conduct code judgement process.

Section II

2.1 BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED that the UO Senate supports the rights of students to peacefully protest during university events, even disruptively, so long as those protests do not prevent speakers from being heard and the audience from hearing what they have to say; and

2.2  BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Senate recognizes that the students involved in the protest at the State of the University Address succeeded in bringing significant matters of academic concern and student well-being to the attention of the university community, and that we urge that this be taken into consideration when judging their discipline cases; and

2.3 BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Senate calls on the the Student Conduct Code and Community Standards Committee to ensure that the Student Conduct Code is revised to include student peers in judgements on disciplinary cases involving free speech, as required by the Policy on Academic Freedom. Given the importance of free speech and academic freedom, the Senate urges the Committee to develop Student Conduct Code procedures distinct from standard discipline charges; and

2.4 BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the UO Senate urges the administration to cease the Student Conduct disciplinary charges process and pledges to support student protesters during the disciplinary appeals process; and

2.5 BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Senate supports the conversations the administration has now initiated with the UO Student Collective and that the Senate will continue to provide a forum for all students.


Related Documents:

8 thoughts on “US17/18-02: Resolution to Support the UO Student Collective”

  1. I’d like to commend you, Arian, for drafting this resolution. Wisely, I think, the proposed resolution avoids presenting a full litany of the demands shared by members of the Student Collective in recent weeks; instead it focuses on two issues that seem to have special urgency.

    I wonder if it might have been better to present these two issues in separate resolutions. Specifically, I can envision articles 1.1 through 1.10, 2.1 and 2.2 constituting one resolution, and articles 1.11, 1.12, 2.3 2.4 constituting another resolution.

    I think there will be strong support in the UO Senate for articles 2.1 and 2.2. I suspect that articles 2.3 and especially 2.4 will be more contentious, and may delay expeditious action on the articles addressing the disciplining of students.

    Article 2.4 asks President Schill to “pledge that he will use his position of power to deny White Nationalists and hate groups a platform on this campus to the best of his ability.” Probably all of us in the Senate find the words that we’ve heard from some white nationalists and members of the “Alt-Right,” repugnant and deeply troubling. However, the sections in this resolution addressing “White Nationalists and hate groups” could be interpreted as a tool to squelch free expression – a core value in universities – and to be inconsistent with the First Amendment. Intimidation and harassment can be prohibited, and speech that threatens individuals and groups or incites violence can be disallowed, but (quoting from a Southern Poverty Law Center guidebook) “people have the right to express their views, even if those views are loathsome.”

    The Senate might be willing to support a resolution that takes on the matter of White Nationalist or hate speech, but a robust discussion of how to balance the sometimes competing values contained in the UO’s mission statement will likely preclude swift action on the motion.

  2. I’m glad to hear that you are working on a revision of this resolution. I agree that separating out the issue of disciplinary action from free speech is important. Many in the senate including myself cannot support prior restraint-type bans on offensive speech. White Nationalists are assholes but UO is a public place so they have a right to speak here. We don’t need to go out of our way to give them a platform and we certainly don’t need to pay attention to them, but they have the right to speak.

  3. Charlie,

    I get that you’re afraid. These people are crazy, they don’t share our values (or even our facts), and people with similar belief systems have acted violently in the past. Clearly, one value we want to respect here is that everyone feel safe in our community.

    Yet, another value we also cherish is that everyone is able to speak.

    The question is: how do we simultaneously uphold free speech and safety? I am confident that if we are creative and thoughtful we can find a way to respect both of these values without sacrificing either. As a senator, I would be happy to work with you and the Student Collective to revise your draft motion (i.e., resolutions 2.6 and 2.7 that were split off today from the other resolutions) to focus on working with the administration to take steps to ensure that everyone feels safe on campus when White Nationalists or other deplorables come to present their views. I’m certain that the administration would also be willing to discuss options around safety because I am certain that administrators care deeply that students are safe and feel safe on campus.

    1. Have you been attacked by white supremacists? Because I have. My family has. My friends have. And you say they are allowed to come onto campus.

      If you allow them on our campus then you do NOT care about our safety. Bottom line. Don’t pretend that you care when you have not even taken the time to educate yourself.

  4. Of course, I and the entire senate and administration care about student safety. There are other things we care about, too. I reiterate that I (and, I am sure, other senators) would be happy to work with you to draft a resolution that balances your clear and reasonable concern about safety with protection of speech.

    To view speech and safety as an either/or choice is a failure of imagination. We must at least try to find a way to live up to both values. Again, I am confident that we can find a way to protect students and living up to our ideal of protecting speech even when we disagree.

  5. Dear President Schill, Provost Banavar, and members of the Senate

    Having been out of the country for the month of October, my thanks to Senate President Sinclair and the Senate for the forum of the Senate being an avenue to hear from students from the UO Student Collective.

    Here are my thoughts to share:

    My thanks to students of UO Student Collective for their passion, their commitment and spirit. Know that classified employees care that there is integrity and fairness in the Student Conduct process, that students are heard, respected and fairly treated in whatever process that is undertaken. I recall that John Bonine and Ombudsperson Bruce McAllister and Senate taskforces injecting themselves for what we today are proud of vis-à-vis sexual misconduct that seemed somewhat unfairly skewed prior to the Senate’s engagement in the processes.

    Our classified employee experiences are not far removed from our student experiences. When I sought a discussion on bias and cultural competency trainings, the response I received was, “Do you feel disrespected? Do you want a hug?” The ethno-centric lens pervades in our classified employee collective experiences calling for meaningful structural change. Respect for diversity, equity and inclusion – to be meaningful and real – for classified employees, remain as elusive. That voice to speak comes tethered with the fear of retaliation that is all, repeatedly, too real in classified employee experiences.

    MEANINGFUL STRUCTURAL CHANGE that students of the UO Student Collective today care deeply about weave the same common strain in many of past student actions that are loud, interruptive, intrusive, and inconveniently public.

    TODAY, at New Employee Orientations, we proudly append the Affirmation of Community Standards policy, adopted in 2000 http://policies.uoregon.edu/files/vpfa-policies/ch1affirmation.html Perhaps it would be good to dig into the Senate archives to be enlightened what the discussions were in the development of this policy, i.e to learn and understand the deliberations around this policy. Perhaps there are senate members who can share how this policy came about. I understand from alumni that this policy arose from a student protest in Johnson Hall. I gather that the issue was student outrage over racist language on a list-serve and the delayed, or lack thereof, of a response from administration compelled students to act, for meaningful change.

    TODAY we take pride in many of the diversity programs offered at the College of Education, notably the doctoral program un Critical and Socio-cultural Studies in Education, that comes to us with a meaningful point of pride of the accomplishment of its first graduate, Dr Carla McNelly https://education.uoregon.edu/news/madam-dr-president-coe-awards-first-doctorate-new-program. Carla served with us in the senate and together with Jane Brubaker, senate representatives for classified employees – that today the campus community values the safe space and services the Ombuds program provides. Lest it escapes memory, the ombuds program came about from the acceptance speech that Carla gave : https://senate.uoregon.edu/awards-2/uo-senate-classified-staff-leadership-award/ – in speaking to the values of our UO Senate Classified Staff Leadership Award.

    VALUING DIVERSITY AT THE COLLEGE OF EDUCATION– these points of pride that I highlight – the meaningful structural change at the College of Education – came about from student protests that I witnessed in 2005 when I began my graduate program, as reported in the Daily Emerald. Protesters rally against COE’s discriminatory acts https://www.dailyemerald.com/2005/05/05/protesters-rally-against-coes-discriminatory-acts/

    TODAY, Asian and Pacific Islander students and students of color value the efforts toward supporting their success here at the University of Oregon. But this meaningful change came about from the demands students of the UO Truth Coalition made in 2012. The UO Truth Coalition of students of color, together with international students, organized themselves. Sitting at the back of the room together with other Asian leaders in our community, we heard the anger, hurt and disappointment in the voices of students of color who were enraged with the restructure of the Office of Multicultural Academic Support (OMAS), to its current Center for Multicultural Academic Excesslence (CMAE) that was made absent student input. Their demands were to ensure that the university committed to their success for academic progress, access, student needs, and for an advocate for students through appropriate advising and referral services, pointing out that universities such as WOU and OSU had six and ten advisers respectively and they felt that as the flagship university, the University of Oregon should have at least as many advisers for students of color as our neighboring universities.

    In my twenty-three years of service processing applications, reading the personal statements of thousands of students who are excited to be here, this is who our students are and what they share:

    KNOW that in our student experiences, our students come already with a smorgasbord of diverse experiences: personal experiences of being harassed, bullied, profiled, of being discriminated; the awareness of white privilege, the importance of being an ally, of speaking for others who dare not speak having witnessed the inequality in treatment of others, the inequity of socio-economic status and taking to heart what this means for others who dare not voice. Know that our students value their experiences to countries around the world, their understanding about identity, heritage, cultures they are enriched with from the experiences in community service projects they engaged in high school. They embody the values of what it means to see themselves as citizens of the world – in passion, in spirit and in their commitment – prepared to learn, and to have uncomfortable honest conversations about biases, prejudices and discrimination in their experiences, and to be agents of change for a better society.

    THE STUDENT PROTESTS in 2000, in 2005, in 2012, in 2016 our student voices on Black Lives Matter, and today, in the voices of our students of UO Student Collective, is the déjà vu chorus of hurt, anger and pain in tone, of our student experience. Know that these are only the voices of students who have the courage to speak, speaking on behalf of many who dare not speak of the unwelcoming environment of their experience, or who would speak only in safe environments.

    In 2016, we introduced Ta-Nehisi Coates’ “Between the World and Me” to our freshman class. How many in our Senate and in our campus community of scholars are prepared for the conversations the students are prepared to have, about the Black experience in America? What dialogue or conversations about the Muslim experience have you had? What dialogue or conversations about the Asian American experience have you had? And what dialogue or conversations have you had – to listen, understand and hear the experiences of native and immigrant families in our community, including the intersections of micro-aggressions in our student experiences of race, gender, ability in identity and culture?

    In our literature and in media we appeal and attract for diversity, with language of valuing a welcoming diverse community, valuing equity and inclusion; taking pride of our efforts in recruitment, in the incremental growth in numbers of the diversity of our student population. Our students take our message on diversity, equity and inclusion meaningfully to heart. Our students in our UO Student Collective and who they represent, are the same students we appeal and attract to come here, that which we take pride in their numbers. Universal in their demands – in the same vein as other students before them – is the university to demonstrate its commitment for the values and principles to be meaningful and real.

    I look forward to all our participation as a campus community, in deliberate, and substantive dialogue and conversations – that honest look in the mirror at ourselves – that will make the meaningful difference for the welcoming, healthy, safe, respectful, equitable and inclusive environments that embraces the rich diversity amongst us, that a great place needs to be.

    Respectfully,
    Theodora Ko Thompson

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