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Slant 12-3-2015

• It was disturbing to see that the Egan Warming Centers were not activated during the most frigid nights we’ve seen so far this season, and we’ve heard reports of frostbite cases among the homeless on Eugene streets. “We have exhausted our pool of willing and able volunteers and several host sites are not available,” organizers reported. “This is a difficult decision and we wish we could do more.” The Egan Warming Center, with several locations around town, provides a safe place to sleep and a warm meal for those who have nowhere else to go when temps drops below 30 degrees. More sites are needed as well as more volunteers to staff them. But our amazing community turned out in force for the Dec. 1 volunteer training — the Egan folks say 382 people showed up! The next one will be from 11 am to 1 pm Saturday, Dec. 5, at First Christian Church, 1166 Oak Street. See eganwarmingcenter.com for an online application and notification of future cold weather activation.

Pastor Dan Bryant at First Christian Church tells us he’s “making a big push for a public building to provide some relief to churches and as a backup so we don’t have another situation like last night.” We can think of a few unused or underused buildings owned by public entities, such as Mac Court on the UO campus, the empty EWEB bow-truss building and the old LCC building downtown. The Wheeler Pavilion at the Fairgrounds has been used in the past. Does the city need to take a bigger role in this essential service, which can be a matter or life or death? The county came up with $26,000 this year to help St. Vincent de Paul run the program.

• One of the key points in the alleged sexual assault by three UO basketball players on a UO student was that one of the players, Brandon Austin, transferred in to the UO while suspended at his previous school  while already under allegations of sexual assault. The UO has said it didn’t know why Austin was suspended. We tend to doubt that, but we agree with the many critics who have said the school should have asked. While the UO keeps suggesting that people stop talking about the past, OSU has decided to try not to make the UO’s mistake in the future. OSU announced on Nov. 30 that it “will increase its efforts to address sexual violence and increase campus safety by requiring undergraduate and graduate students seeking to transfer to OSU to disclose whether they are ineligible to re-enroll at an institution they attended in the past seven years due to student conduct reasons.”

The school tactfully adds that it will share “Oregon State’s new policy with the leaders of other Pacific-12 Conference universities and encouraging them to consider similar policies.” In other words, hey Ducks, you might have beat the Beavs in the Civil War, but is OSU kicking your butts when it comes to preventing sexual assaults?

• Now that someone wants to plonk a building on Kesey Square, The Register-Guard has decided to remember Kesey Square’s “official name” is Broadway Plaza. That’s suddenly the R-G’s preferred terminology for the public space that developers would like to see become just another apartment building. You can try to remove the emotional attachment by calling it Broadway Plaza instead of Kesey Square — the name everyone has been calling it since “The Storyteller” statue of Ken Kesey was installed in 2003 — but, judging from the rising outcry, a name change is not going to make Eugeneans forget about this bid to take away a public gathering space. Here at EW we are unabashedly pro saving this public forum, but we have to wonder what is the R-G’s dog in this fight? The daily paper keeps calling the space a “problem” and “troublesome” and steadfastly ignores the other options for Kesey Square, such as Ali Emami’s offer to open up the walls of the properties he owns that flank the square. 

• A caravan of the Echo Squadron, Eugene stalwarts of the Timbers Army, are sure to be headed to Portland’s Crystal Palace on Sunday, Dec. 5, to see their beloved soccer team play Columbus for the Major League Soccer championship on ESPN at 1 pm. Too bad the match is in Columbus, Ohio. Portland would have gone crazy . We’ll have a certain amount of fan craziness in Eugene with watching at Oakshire, the Green room attached to the old Doc’s Pad on 7th and Willamette, maybe the Wild Duck, and lots of other bars with big screens. While we’re talking soccer, the UO men’s club team won the national club championship this fall. Listen up, sports writers.

• It’s hard to not connect the vitriolic rhetoric against Planned Parenthood with the barbaric mass shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic last week in Colorado Springs. It’s way past time to stop demonizing a nonprofit that actually prevents thousands of abortions through family planning. There is some good news on this front in Oregon and California. Pharmacists will soon be able to provide birth control directly. Some questions remain, such as whether pharmacists will be able to bill insurance for their consulting services, which might include blood pressure testing. Ideally, birth control pills should be available over the counter, but then insurance companies would likely try to not cover the cost. We hope to see these issues worked out, but we also expect a fight from conservatives who believe all forms of birth control are a sin.