• Eugene Weekly Loves You!
Share |

EW! A Blog.

June 29, 2017 04:16 PM

City Wide MEChA is hosting its Begins With Us graduation the group will honor its students’ academic progress, community service and community engagement, and accomplishments. Community Alliance of Lane County (CALC) says, “They will be honoring community members and connecting city officials and organizations to offer resources to the community as a whole.”

The event is 5:30 pm Thursday, June 29, at the Bob Keefer Center for Sports and Recreation (formerly Willamalane Center) 250 South 32nd Street, Springfield and features a dinner, award ceremony, community speakers and community conversation.

CALC says, “An additional goal is to connect the community with city officials, educators, public figures, community organizers, attorneys and many others. All are welcome.”

 Donations are needed to help cover event expenses and can be made at the event or dropped off at the CALC office, 458 Blair Blvd. in Eugene.

 For more information and/or to RSVP, contact Johanis Tadeo at johanistadeo509@gmail.com or call CALC at 541-485-1755.

June 26, 2017 03:04 PM

On Monday, the White House sent out calculation about the Affordable Health Care Act in its daily newsletter — a newsletter that isn’t always published on a daily basis.

As President Trump rallies hard against Obamacare in his tweets, today’s email made the following claim: “When Obamacare was signed into law, CBO estimated that 23 million people would be covered in Obama’s exchanges by 2017. They were off by more than 100%. Only 10.3 million people are covered by Obamacare.”

If using the newsletter’s statistics to calculate the percentages of uninsured Americans, the 2017 estimate is off by 56 percent, not 100 percent. 10.3 million is 44 percent of 23 million making the estimate off by 56 percent.

However, not only do the White House percentages not add up, its estimates of people who have gained access to health care coverage are also inaccurate. According to Politifact, 20 million people have gained access to health insurance under the ACA after estimates released by the Department of Health and Human Services.

The current Senate health care bill was reviewed by the Congressional Budget Office on Monday, and the office estimates that the bill would raise the number of uninsured people to 22 million by 2026.

“By 2026, an estimated 49 million people would be uninsured, compared with 28 million who would lack insurance that year under the current law,” according to the Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate release.  

June 21, 2017 02:40 PM

 

The beauty and warmth of Eugene’s spring into summer days comes with a few drawbacks. Mosquitos, sweat and for many, allergies. For Melanie Wayne, a nurse practitioner at Oregon Allergy Associates this means a lot of patients to treat.

Wayne says that if you think your allergies are worse this year than in the past, it may just be psychological. “Our numbers always get high but this year we had such cool weather longer that it may have lured people in false sense of security. So, when it did warm up the pollen came in really fast and hard.”

The grass farms surrounding Eugene are to blame for the allergy trap the city has become. Both grass seed and hay farming release tons of allergens this time of year. Recent pollen counts conducted by the Oregon Allergy Associates show grass pollen at the caliber of “very high” in Eugene which is the highest possible rating. “Some of the highest pollen counts anywhere,” Wayne says.

According to Wayne, when it inevitably rains in Eugene it does decrease overall pollen counts. However, it can cause the grass pollen to break apart into tiny fragments which get deeper into your lungs and trigger a more intense mucus reaction.

Photo by Brooke Novak, Creative Commons license

“Symptoms from these allergies include itching, sneezing, swollen eyes, particularly concerning though is asthma symptoms,” Wayne says.

If you have pollen allergies you could get a reaction when eating a type of food. “Pollen allergies and food allergies are both driven by the allergic antibody IgE. Interestingly, there is a condition called oral allergy syndrome where people with certain pollen allergies can get oral or throat itching with certain food proteins, it's not technically a dangerous food allergy, but it can be quite uncomfortable. However, if the food is cooked, it attenuated the protein and is not reactive,” Wayne says.

If you have allergies, treatments can be obtained in multiple ways. There’s the over the counter pills and nasal spray, but Wayne recommends getting a desensitization shot or tablet from your doctor. 

June 15, 2017 04:59 PM

Several Eugene area human rights and social justice groups have teamed up to form Human Rights Work, and the coalition is asking the city of Eugene to be part of the hiring process for the new Eugene police chief to replace retiring Chief Pete Kerns.

Erin Grady, an organizer with the Civil Liberties Defense Center, says the group “put out a call to social justice organizations and concerned citizens in the city who want to come together to form a coalition to be part of this process.”

Together, Human Rights Work has sent a letter to Mayor Lucy Vinis, City Manager John Ruiz and the Eugene City Council requesting for the hiring process to be transparent and inclusive.

Ibrahim Coulibaly, chairman of legal redress with Eugene Springfield NAACP says Human Rights Work wants to be part of the hiring process as early as possible.

“We really want a police chief that will be aware of minorities and also willing to commit that his or her officers will be trained properly when dealing with minorities, people with disabilities, the homeless and people who are marginalized in our society.”

The letter is below.Eugene Weekly will be following this story.

Dear Mayor Lucy Vinis, City Council of Eugene, and City Manager Jon Ruiz,

We, Human Rights Work, are a coalition of Human Rights and Social Justice groups that have come together to bring our voices, opinions and concerns to the process of hiring a new police chief for the City of Eugene. We are requesting a meeting with the City Manager to discuss our values, concerns and how we can be a part of this process. We are made up of Eugene groups and organizations that represent and advocate for a better, more equitable life in this town for all its inhabitants. Specifically, we represent groups that are traditionally under-represented in city decisions, and that are on the receiving end of racism, sexism, cissexism, classism, homophobia and other kinds of oppression. We realize that the decisions and management of the Eugene Police Department are decisions that affect the safety and well being of our communities, as well as the expenditure of our tax dollar resources, and we want to be a part of this hiring process.

We believe in a police force that maintains public safety, respects people’s rights, supports people’s health, helps facilitate the rehabilitation of those who need it and fortify peoples’ ties to the community. We want a police force that minimizes harm, prioritizes de-escalation, works with community groups, arrests sparingly and moves to end policies and tactics that result in racially disproportionate outcomes. We want an EPD that respects the city’s Inclusivity Ordinance and the potential extension of it. We have seen ways that the EPD meets these needs for our community and ways that it needs to improve in order to accommodate the diversity of humans who live here.

The City Manager has said that this will be a transparent process, and we hope to know more specifics of what that will look like. We are asking to be a part of this process as early as possible. Specifically, we would like to be 1) involved in the hiring of a national recruiter and in the recruitment process, including providing review and contributions to the job description and list of qualifications desired. 2) We would like our values to be included in forming criteria for reviewing applications. 3) We also want to have a seat (or several seats) at the table in order to assess potential candidates and make a choice, including attending interviews, attending discussions of candidates and observing the decision making process.

Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,

NAACP

Centro Latino Americano

Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ)

Friends of Sanctuary

Civil Liberties Defense Center

TransPonder

Occupy Medical

350 Eugene

Trauma Healing Project

Eugene Springfield Solidarity Network

CALC

United Front

June 15, 2017 10:55 AM

Oregon State pitcher Luke Heimlich as a teenager pleaded guilty to molesting a 6-year-old girl. The information came out in a recent Oregonian story and controversy has ensued as the OSU team heads to the NCAA College World Series.

Heimlich will not be going with the team or playing the rest of this year, according to a statement by OSU President Ed Ray, who also explains why Heimlich was accepted to the school and the school supports his continuing attendance as a student. The full statement is below.

ESPN reports that Heimlich was not taken in Major League Baseball's draft after the revelations about his past.

Brenda Tracy, who was raped by two OSU football players in 1998 and has gone on to be victims’ advocate and activist told CBS sports, “It's painful and hurtful … a school can be so proactive and so good and do so many good things and drop the ball like this."

 

 

To the Oregon State University community,

I am writing regarding recent media coverage of events involving a member of the Oregon State baseball team Luke Heimlich.

The tragedy of sexual assault in our society is both horrific and heartbreaking. I have heard from many individuals who personally – or through loved ones – have experienced the distress of sexual assault. There is no closure. Survivors live with that horror the rest of their lives, but hopefully they can heal and recover. This story has triggered a great deal of sorrow and pain in other victims of sexual assault and among their loved ones. In the midst of all of this, my heart goes out to the young girl in this matter, who was the victim of wrongdoing.

I have taken time this week to think through these complex issues and to give Luke the time and space he needed to determine how he wished to proceed. I believe he made the right initial decision for himself and for the team last Friday when he recused himself from pitching for the team in the NCAA Super Regional.

Yesterday, Luke decided that he would no longer represent the university this year as a member of the baseball team. As such, he will not participate in the NCAA College World Series nor travel with the OSU baseball team to Omaha. I concur with this decision as to do otherwise would certainly serve as a disruption and distraction to the team due to the significant public scrutiny that this matter has attracted. As well, I am mindful of the need for providing safety for all concerned that otherwise might be at risk during times of heightened emotions.

If Luke wishes to do so, I support him continuing his education at Oregon State and rejoining the baseball team next season.

At Oregon State University, we are in the business of transforming lives and creating opportunity for each student. I have always believed that education is a path to a more meaningful, responsible and productive life for everyone. I believe that every individual should have the opportunity to get an education. Therefore, I have long supported the guidelines issued by the U.S. Department of Education to allow individuals to register for college admission without revealing a prior criminal record, except in specific circumstances.

The position that OSU has taken on criminal records in regards to admissions is consistent with the U.S. Department of Education Fair Chance Higher Education Pledge signed by universities and organizations nationally, such as Columbia University, Cornell University, New York University, the University of California System, the University of Washington, Google, Starbucks, Xerox and many more. In September 2016 alone, there were 61 higher education signatories to this pledge representing 172 individual campuses serving more than 1.8 million students. Certainly, individual universities have their own specific registration requirements in troublesome cases where public safety considerations may be involved. Clearly, OSU is not an outlier in its admissions policies.

For purposes of employment or volunteer work with OSU, background checks are required for anyone – including students – seeking critical or security-sensitive positions – such as working with minors. Separately, OSU also receives reports through the Oregon State Police (OSP) in Salem of registered sex offenders (RSOs) who attend our university. Upon being notified by OSP, Oregon State’s departments of Human Resources, Student Affairs and Public Safety share that information on a need-to-know basis with those OSU managers who meet with the student and otherwise take actions to mitigate any community risks that might result from an RSO attending the university. For example, RSOs cannot live in OSU residence halls on campus, and are prohibited from working with or having unsupervised contact with juveniles. We also require students with criminal backgrounds to reveal this history if it involves crimes that would limit where a student would be allowed to study such as within a College of Education school counseling degree or teacher preparation programs. Students in these kinds of programs are specifically background checked by other public agencies before having certain types of access with minors off campus.

While at OSU, Luke has been in good academic standing, his participation as a student-athlete has been positive, and his presence on the team has been in compliance with existing OSU policies.

Moving forward, I will discuss with university colleagues a review of our policies. This review should consider the possibility that some offenses and situations are so serious that we should no longer let such a student represent the university in athletic competition and other high-profile activities sponsored by the university by virtue of their offense. Such individuals could still enroll as a student in the university with appropriate risk mitigation. Any potential change in existing admission criteria will be implemented for students entering the university beginning in fall 2018.

The safety and security of OSU’s students will always be our paramount concern, and we will continue to review our policies to ensure that they are aligned with the best interests of the OSU community.

Sincerely,

Ed Ray

President

June 12, 2017 11:05 AM

PUBLIC TRUST

Only a dozen residents attended the May 22 Department of Environmental Quality Meeting regarding groundwater contamination of the Trainsong and River Road neighborhoods. This clearly is a message of either poor public notification or the apathy of residents whose private water wells have been tainted for 25 years. 

Since 1990, DEQ has been investigating groundwater and soil contamination from the Union Pacific Railroad rail yard in the Trainsong and River Road neighborhoods. DEQ's plan is to monitor 15 test water wells for five years and to manage risks to site workers through on site controls and deed restrictions.

The Public Trust Doctrine, in existence since the Roman Empire, states governments have a sovereign duty to protect the assets of the public. The natural resource contamination of groundwater and soils by Union Pacific Railroad violates this trust, and the DEQ has a fiduciary responsibility to protect the trust from substantial impairment and restore these assets to their original state.

The natural resources of Eugene are part of the reason we live here, and they should be protected for present and future generations. From herbicidal aerial spraying to polluting industrial practices, residents have a responsibility to demand protection of air, groundwater, soils, shores, waterways and watersheds.

Contact DEQ at Hanson.don@deq.state.or.us before June 15 to submit questions and comments.

 Jim Neu

Eugene

June 8, 2017 05:06 PM

A joint resolution honoring Rick Best and Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche, the two men who died after being attacked on public transportation in Portland, and Micah David-Cole Fletcher, who was wounded in the attack after standing up to protect two Muslim women, passed today in the U.S. Senate.

Sponsored by Oregon Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden, the joint resolution condemns the deadly attack and offers condolences and support to the families and the community and “supports nationwide efforts to overcome hatred, bigotry, and violence.”

The Muslim women were targets of hate speech on the Portland train.

“These three Oregonians stood up courageously against terrorism — and for core American values of tolerance and freedom,“ Wyden said in a statement. “This resolution properly honors their bravery in confronting hate and commits all of us as Americans to fighting hate, violence and terrorism every chance we get.”

The House will now consider the resolution.

A copy of the news release  follows:

 

For Immediate Release: June 8, 2017

 

Wyden, Merkley Resolution Honoring MAX Attack Heroes Passes Senate

Washington, DC  –  U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley praised the Senate’s passage today of their joint resolution to honor Oregon heroes Rick Best, Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche, and Micah David-Cole Fletcher.

Best and Namkai-Meche were fatally stabbed on May 26 defending two young women targeted by threatening anti-Muslim hate speech on the MAX train in Portland. Fletcher was seriously wounded in the attack.

 “These three Oregonians stood up courageously against terrorism -- and for core American values of tolerance and freedom,“ Wyden said. “This resolution properly honors their bravery in confronting hate and commits all of us as Americans to fighting hate, violence and terrorism every chance we get.”

“What happened on that train was a horrific act of hate. But in the days that followed, Oregon came together with a message: While there is evil in this world, there is still far more goodness — the same goodness that Rick, and Taliesin, and Micah bravely exhibited on that train,” Merkley said. “This resolution recognizes that, and I thank my colleagues for joining with me to honor these heroes.”

 

The joint resolution now goes to the House for its consideration. If the House passes the joint resolution, it would go to the president for his signature.

June 1, 2017 01:00 PM

President Donald Trump today announced his intention to pull out of the Paris Accords. According to the United Nations, the Paris Agreement "for the first time – brings all nations into a common cause to undertake ambitious efforts to combat climate change and adapt to its effects, with enhanced support to assist developing countries to do so. As such, it charts a new course in the global climate effort."

Trump intends to leave that course.

Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley, released a statement saying: “This decision may be a win for Steve Bannon and Scott Pruitt and those who share their extremist views, but it’s a loss for everyone else. If completed, Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris agreement will put the United States in the company of only two other nations on earth that do not belong to the pact: Nicaragua, which believes the agreement doesn’t go far enough, and Syria, which is in the midst of a horrific civil war."

The Western Environmental Law Center weighed in with, ""History will not look kindly on Trump," said Erik Schlenker-Goodrich, executive director of the Western Environmental Law Center. "His reckless decision cedes U.S. leadership and credibility on the world stage. But it's worse than that. Trump's decision is morally reprehensible, risking great suffering to all, but in particular to our most vulnerable wildlands, wildlife, and communities."

May 31, 2017 04:34 PM

A May 30 press release from the Oregon Territory Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists warns that a bill that would affect government transparency is stuck in the House Rules Committee as the end of the Legislative session draws near. See the full release below.

SALEM -- The Oregon Territory Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists is alarmed that lawmakers could miss a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create lasting change for open government.

House Bill 2101, which would provide for extra analysis and notice of bills that affect government transparency, is still stuck in the House Rules Committee, with the July 10 end of the legislative session looming. The -18 amendment that would provide the guts of the bill has broad stakeholder support and would would set up a balanced, nonpartisan committee to update and simplify Oregon’s confusing thicket of more than 550 records-law exemptions.

“The overwhelming majority of Oregonians want their government to be open and accountable. There has been very little opposition to this bill, but it has not received a hearing,” said Shasta Kearns Moore, SPJ Oregon’s sunshine chair.

SPJ Oregon spearheaded the concept — supported by Gov. Kate Brown and Secretary of State Dennis Richardson — to add the creation of an Oregon Sunshine Committee to the bill. The concept is also supported by former Deputy Attorney General Pete Shepherd, the statewide transparency group Open Oregon, the ACLU of Oregon, Oregon State Public Interest Research Group (OSPIRG), the Oregon Environmental Council, the Portland NAACP and about 10 other nonprofit public interest groups.

The Sunshine Committee would give the public a seat at the table during exemption review as already happens in Washington, Virginia, New York, Maine and Tennessee.

House Bill 2101 would also create Open Government Impact Statements for bills moving through the legislature. This means, every bill that has the potential to close off public access to information would get a statement on the arguments for and against creating more secrecy.

“Oregon has an opportunity with this bill to make a huge leap forward for transparency in the state at negligible cost. We hope the legislature takes it,” Kearns Moore said.

May 30, 2017 09:54 AM

2015’s underwhelming Strangers to Myself was my last taste of Modest Mouse as I entered the Portland band’s nearly sold-out show at Eugene’s Cuthbert Amphitheater on May 25. Admittedly, I’ve yawned my way through the record only a handful of times. And while not exactly bad, Strangers is at best mellower, more grown up (and for a band that once sang “I don’t know but I been told/You never die and you never grow old” that’s a grave offense, indeed). But at worst, Strangers simply seems uninspired, dull, safe; the gravest of offenses for a band whose lead singer, guitarist and troublesome mouthpiece Isaac Brock is known for using his guitar (and occasionally a banjo) like a switchblade, a spray paint can or a car driven too fast on a curvy mountain road.

So seeing them in Eugene, I was concerned that Modest Mouse had gone dad rock. We’re all gonna die, but do we have to grow old? And as the band shuffled on stage launching into a languid “The World at Large” off their 2004 breakthrough hit Good News for People Who Like Bad News, I was concerned.

But soon enough Brock and his cohort warmed up, building a full head of steam, working out a set of exactly the Modest Mouse songs you’d want to hear: Brock’s singing voice a little Frank Black, a little Screaming Jay Hawkins, his guitar squall barging into the band’s conversation, sometimes taking Brock to jittery places he didn’t even seem to understand. And Brock’s still a smartass, pausing mid set he taunted the audience: “How’s the internet? Keep plugging it with quarters. It’s sure to catch on.”

So in the end, a set list of familiars (yes, they played “Float On” and “Dashboard”) is both satisfying and not, but maybe that’s just where Brock is right now. Once he sang, from “Bukowski” also off Good News: “God who’d want to be such an asshole?” and this, mixed with Brock’s tabloid bad behavior, captured the tone of a young man’s hungover morning, filled with regret. Now, as Brock sings it as he did in Eugene, you sense he’s learned a thing or two. We all die, we all grow old, let’s hope, like Brock and his band (still one of the most interesting indie rock bands in the Northwest) we learn a thing or two along the way.

— Photos by Jeff Peterson

May 26, 2017 10:49 AM

At its May 25 meeting, the Oregon Higher Education Coordinating Commission granted the University of Oregon’s proposal to increase its 2017-2018 tuition rate by 10.6 percent, or $945 per year.

Since HECC initially blocked the school’s rate-increase proposal on May 11, UO has worked closely with the commissioners to move its plan forward, UO President Michael Schill said at the meeting. The May 25 approval came on a 7-1 vote.

“I am extremely grateful to the commissioners for reversing their initial decision on our tuition plan,” Schill said in a campus-wide email announcement.

The increase, supported by the outgoing ASUO president Quinn Haaga and the incoming UO Senate president, gained momentum with a strong turnout of staff and administrators at the meeting in Salem.

UO estimates that, without the tuition increase, it will face a $14 million deficit. The existing deficit of $8.5 million has already affected UO’s programs and non-tenure faculty. UO cut 75 non-tenure faculty in March and its Substance Abuse Prevention Programs last month. Haaga says UO now has only about two-thirds of the average faculty and staff found at other similar institutions.

“Through multiple-week waiting periods to schedule counseling appointments, larger class sizes and inconsistent advising that has at times led us down the wrong academic paths, we fear that these issues and many more will increase at an exponential rate next year, further disadvantaging all students, especially those that cannot afford to take an extra term or even extra class,” Haaga’s statement says.

“Unfortunately, we must work with the financial situation as it exists and ask students to pay more for their education,“ incoming UO Senate President Chris Sinclair writes. “We owe our students robust services that help them on their path to graduation [and] to have high-quality instructors and access to research that expands knowledge.”

But students continue to plead for financial relief. Incoming ASUO President Amy Schenk, who has been advocating for affordable higher education for three years, says it’s “disheartening” to see tuition keep increasing.

“Increasing the price to attend the university has not only priced out students from attending, but forced those who stay to often choose between paying for school and paying for necessities, such as food or even housing,” Schenk says. “This direct toll and financial burden of tuition increases that students face have gotten quite unreasonable.”

Schenk says many UO students couldn’t attend the meeting because of midterms, and since the meeting was called last Thursday, ASUO has had no time to organize.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown wasn’t at the meeting but urged HECC not to approve tuition increases above 5 percent unless the schools show significant evidence of searching for alternatives before raising tuition.

Commissioners acknowledged approving the increase is a hard decision, but they did so due to the critical services at risk.

Schenk gave a list of demands for UO in her statement, including a cap of 5 percent tuition increase if public schools secure $100 million in state funds and a cap of 5 percent tuition increase next year. She quoted a statement from Schill committing to “tangible and measurable steps” to proactively prevent tuition hikes.

Schill says although UO has identified $4.5 million in cuts, “we have many difficult decisions ahead.”

“We are up to the challenge, and I remain ever focused on making the University of Oregon the very best it can be,” Schill says in the email. 

May 19, 2017 02:55 PM

Local climate change activists received a major endorsement in their campaign to divest Eugene from fossil fuels.

Eugene Humans Rights Commission members voted Tuesday to support an ordinance advising the city against renewing its current contract with U.S. Bank, which ends in October 2018. 350 Eugene, the local group that wrote the proposed ordinance, will present it to Eugene City Council at 7:30 pm Monday, May 22, in Harris Hall for a decision.

350 Eugene will have a rally at 6:30 pm that same day at the Wayne Morse Free Speech Plaza in support of the ordinance.

Members of the Human Rights Commission hope their endorsement of the ordinance, which is based on a similar one passed in Seattle, gives the City Council a compelling reason to adopt it. 

Though the ordinance would not be binding — ultimately is the unelectedcity manager’s decision to award city contracts, not City Council’s — it would further underscore Eugene’s commitment to opposing the construction of oil pipelines that would counter efforts to combat climate change. U.S. Bank is heavily invested in such pipelines, including the Dakota Access and Keystone XL, which would put the safety of indigenous people and their land at risk in the event of a spill.

“We have done a great deal to try to bring real application to our support for the people who are indigenous, and this is reality,” Human Rights Commission vice-chair Jennifer Frenzer said at the meeting. “When you get down to brass tacks, if you just have an indigenous rights day and don’t really back it up with actions, then that doesn’t change much. This is a way for us to move forward under that banner of Indigenous Rights Day and really create applications of what it looks like having the backs of people.”

Emily Semple, the City Council’s liaison to the Human Rights Commission, says there are many reasons to divest from all large banks, U.S. Bank included. She says she’d prefer to see the city do its money management with local credit unions instead. Eugene Municipal Code requires that city contracts give preference to goods and services produced in state.

In addition to potentially endangering indigenous people, U.S. Bank has a history of deceptive business practices. It paid the U.S. government $200 million in 2014 to resolve allegations that it knowingly underwrote mortgage loans that did not meet federal requirements, contributing to mass foreclosure throughout the country during the financial crisis of 2008. It paid $55 million to settle a class action suit involving allegations of collecting high overdraft fees on debit card transactions and $57 million to resolve allegations it charged 420,000 customers for identity protection services they never received.

In 2016 the City Council passed a resolution proclaiming the city’s support for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s opposition to the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, which it said ran contrary to the city’s values regarding social equity and environmental health.

Human Rights Commissioner Aria Seligmann said the ordinance “really goes to the mission of the commission, and I support it for that reason.”

May 17, 2017 11:43 PM

Controversial budget process moves ahead despite requests of faculty union, students

The Lane Community College Budget Committee approved the 2017-2018 administrative budget after hearing hours of public comment opposing the budgets cuts to instructional programs and faculty members.

After hearing two rounds of public testimony — all opposing the proposed budget — the LCC Board of Education ultimately adopted the budget with a 6 to 1 vote. Board member Matt Keating opposed adopting the budget.

At the budget meeting, a majority proposal calculated by the faculty union, student union and classified union came up with a budget that spared cuts to faculty and proposed other cost saving measures to address the budget deficit.

However, though LCC board members echoed that no one wanted to make program cuts, they unanimously voted on the administration’s proposal that raises tuition and increases student fees after the 6-1 vote to adopt the budget.

Requests, public comments and countless emails proposing alternatives to program and faculty cuts were acknowledged by the board, but the board moved ahead with the controversial budget decision.

During the previous May 10 meeting, the budget committee asked the administration to address “gray areas” of the budget, however, the administration’s budget did not reflect lost tuition revenue that would result in cuts made to religion, philosophy, respiratory therapy and the geographic information systems programs. The faculty union has been requesting the college administration calculate these numbers be calculated for several weeks.

Full-time philosophy instructor Jeffrey Borrowdale, testified twice at the meeting to ask for the religion and philosophy programs to be considered as a separate line item in the proposed budget. He said there’s a high demand and a high fill rate for philosophy and religion classes, which was 95 percent in 2016.

At the end of the meeting, board chair Rosie Pryor told the crowd of 50 or more in attendance that she was against raising tuition after having voted for it. She said the board is the only group that makes the final budget decision, “whether you like it or not.” She added that policy direction for the budget is given to the president and that people should tell the board if they don’t like the direction.

Then Pryor directly addressed public comments heard during public comments saying, “to characterize us as coming from a place of privilege is unfair and insulting,” she said.

After the meeting Pryor spoke to Eugene Weekly, saying, “I’m concerned about raising tuition another $7 per credit hour.” But when asked what could have been done to avoid a tuition hike she said the administration would have had to look at deeper cuts, and, those alternatives were never calculated. “If faculty had helped us retain the students that we enrolled fall term to winter term we would have more than a million more dollars in our budget,” Pryor said. “Everybody touches students. Enrollment is everybody’s job. I don’t think anybody is to blame, and I’m tired of talking about blame.”

Lane Community College’s Facebook page has dozens of comments and complaints about the lack of services and limited hours in the enrollment department.

“It’s like saying somebody in your family lost their job, but nobody wants to give up Netflix and getting nails done and getting fancy hair cuts,” Pryor said. “Nobody wants to change their lifestyle we don’t have enough money to support our lifestyle.”

May 12, 2017 02:49 PM

University of Oregon President Michael Schill sent an email to the UO community in response to the Higher Education Coordinating Commission’s decision yesterday to reject the University of Oregon’s tuition plan. In his letter, Schill argues the rejection could lead to deeper cuts that could affect "student services, academic programs and jobs."

He concludes the letter asserting that, "We will continue to work with students, faculty, staff, and alumni to make the case in Salem that cutting higher-education funding and usurping campus independence will lead to untenable outcomes for the UO and all of higher education in Oregon."

The full letter is below.

 

Dear University of Oregon community members,

The Higher Education Coordinating Commission’s decision yesterday to reject the University of Oregon’s tuition plan is disappointing and creates uncertainty on our campus. If it stands, we will be forced to make even deeper cuts at the UO than are already anticipated, including cuts that will likely affect student support services, academic programs, and jobs. While we would like the HECC to reconsider its vote, we are already evaluating additional budget reduction steps that can be taken if this decision holds and the state does not provide additional support for public higher education.

No one wants to increase tuition, but the university is left with little choice given that tuition is the UO’s main source of revenue after decades of declining state support. Prior to the HECC’s vote, the UO’s tuition plan would have required more than $8 million in budget reductions next year, which would come on top of more than $6 million in cuts made in the previous fiscal year. I have steadfastly expressed my view that we will try to shield the academic part of our university from the impact of this year’s budget cuts, but if we are forced to limit our tuition increase to less than 5 percent, then that aspiration will likely be impossible.

In the face of cost-drivers that institutions do not control—including retirement and health benefit costs—Oregon’s public universities have been clear that significant additional state support for higher education is necessary to keep tuition increases low and to maintain critical student support services. State legislators still have the opportunity this session to approve a higher-education budget that prioritizes Oregon students and their families and makes the proposed tuition increase at the UO and other institutions unnecessary.

 The state of Oregon deserves a world-class research institution like the UO. The HECC’s decision to overturn a tuition plan that was reached through months of inclusive campus engagement and careful deliberation by our institutional Board of Trustees, however, threatens our ability to deliver on that promise for all Oregonians. We will continue to work with students, faculty, staff, and alumni to make the case in Salem that cutting higher-education funding and usurping campus independence will lead to untenable outcomes for the UO and all of higher education in Oregon.

As we have said repeatedly, the UO stands ready and willing to provide HECC commissioners with the information they need to reconsider their decision about tuition on our campus. This situation is very fluid and time is of the essence, given that the fiscal year starts on July 1, but you have my commitment that we will communicate with the campus community as we hear more. I appreciate your patience and understanding.