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Slant 5-29-2014

Emerge Oregon has been recruiting and training women to run for public office for five years now. The May Primary had 14 Emerge alumnae running for positions around the state, including Dawn Lesley’s challenge to unseat Jay Bozievich in the West Lane commission race, a race so close it’s still undecided. Sheri Moore, who ran against Sid Leiken in the Springfield commission race, is another grad, along with Rep. Val Hoyle. “Running for elected office takes courage,” reads a statement from the Emerge Oregon Board of Directors last week following the election. “We are so proud of all our Emerge sisters who took that leap of faith and put their names forward to help make Oregon a better place for all of us and our families.” See emergeor.org to support the organization and its alumnae.

• “College is the time when everyone experiences those things such as sex and fun and pleasure,” mass murderer Elliot Rodgers said in a YouTube video before he killed six people and injured seven more in Santa Barbara, Calif., this past weekend. He continues, “but in those years I’ve had to rot in loneliness, it’s not fair … I don’t know why you girls aren’t attracted to me but I will punish you all for it.” In the wake of the killings, people will search for answers — mental illness or disgraceful gun laws that allowed Rodgers to buy three weapons. We are reminded of something as we read Rodgers’ manifesto in the light of the recent UO rape allegations: Misogynist killings and rape aren’t just the work of a single sick person; they are the work of a society and ideology that sees women as property or prizes to claim. Rape culture doesn’t just target women; it targets trans people and men as well. We need to not only fix our legal and health care and gun control systems, we need to fix the ideologies that allow mass killings to happen again and again.

• The Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce leadership claims mandated sick leave for employees in Eugene is bad for business and threatens our “fragile” economic recovery, but the Chamber doesn’t calculate the financial gains from building a more stable and humane workforce. Staff turnover is expensive. Forcing sick workers and those with sick dependents to take unpaid leave or be fired sends a message to workers that they are not valued. And any policies that lead to low morale, low productivity and a workplace rife with contagion are counterproductive when it comes to retaining solid, productive employees.

• Profound sadness and anger. That’s what we felt after watching Larry Kramer’s The Normal Heart on HBO on Sunday, May 25. The tragedy of our country’s unwillingness to acknowledge the AIDS epidemic and to do something about it was brilliantly portrayed in the film adapted from the 1985 screen play by Larry Kramer. We also learned that activism only works if it is fierce and truly active. The importance of recent rulings on same-sex marriage rang clear near the end of the film, both because of legal safeguards for same-sex couples and for the affirmation by the society of their place in this country. Somehow, see The Normal Heart if you possibly can. The film continues to be shown on HBO. Watch the trailer at wkly.ws/1ri.

Is OSU more green than UO? The annual analysis of U.S. colleges by Princeton Review ranked OSU high for environment, but not UO. OSU spends 36 percent of its food budget on local/organic food; UO spends 7 percent. OSU requires 32 percent of its students to take a course related to sustainability, UO only 5 percent. The list goes on. But Princeton doesn’t quantify the value of environmental and sustainability programs at either university. What value do we put on the UO’s Public Interest Environmental Law Conference, the Sustainable Cities Initiative or the Oregon Leadership in Sustainability grad program? How about OSU’s 10 acres of solar facilities or its pledge to build within its existing boundary to keep the campus compact? (UO is also trying not to sprawl but owns a lot of undeveloped real estate within its boundary.) 

Individual profs can also have a big impact. Environmental science professor Jane Lubchenco, for example, has inspired a generation of young scientists at OSU and has gone on to distinguish herself (and OSU) nationally as chief of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and even at a Vatican conference on climate change this month.