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October 26, 2017 12:21 PM

Creswell’s upcoming vote on Measure 20-280 has gotten messy.

The measure, which would legalize marijuana sales in specific districts of the city, is supported by local weed start-up One Gro. The opposition, a coalition of citizens and local business owners under the political action committees Say No to One Gro and Keep it Creswell, last week mailed a biased voters pamphlet to the 97426 area code.

The pamphlet mirrors the appearance of official voters’ pamphlets. The inside cover has a notice in small print, stating, “This unofficial voters’ pamphlet was produced by the political action committees of Keep It Creswell and Say No To One Gro.”

Printed on newsprint, just like official voter pamphlets, the cover declares the publication as a “Voters’ Pamphlet” for the Nov. 7, 2017 special election.

Michael Weber, public relations representative for Say No to One Gro, says, “There was no conspiracy or desire or attempt to make it deceiving. We asked for a pamphlet that looked similar to what a pamphlet would look like, and that's what we got and we liked it and went with it.”

Dan Isaacson, the CEO of One Gro, thinks it’s a lot more duplicitous. “The goal is clearly to deceive people,” Isaacson says. “They created a guide that has the same paper, font, size and look of an official one. The only conclusion that can be taken is that it’s meant to prey on vulnerable voters in the community.”

Creating materials similar to voters’ pamphlets is not currently illegal, though the Oregon Legislature introduced a bill earlier this year in an attempt to change that. House Bill 2349 “proposed limitations regarding political advocacy materials that look like the voters pamphlet,” says Stephen Trout, director of elections in the office of the Oregon Secretary of State. The bill did not become law, meaning the Creswell pamphlet is legal.

“There is, however, a limited remedy under ORS 260.532 where an individual can file a complaint in the appropriate circuit court,” Trout adds. The measure he cites bans the publication of “a false statement of material fact relating to any candidate, political committee or measure.”

Isaacson says the tactics used by the opposition campaign are unfair. “We have held town halls, tours, calls, sit-downs and interviews to allow folks the ability to get to know their new neighbor and to start a conversation,” he explains. “And since the beginning a vocal minority, with clearly no bottom to their moral compass or respect for our democracy, has tried to subvert it through deception, lies and behavior that borders on criminality.”

Isaacson claims that supporters of the two opposition PACs follow his employees to the store. “They take pictures of them,” he says. He adds that the opposition has discussed farm sabotage. “I have pictures and video of them stalking the farm,” he says.

Weber would seem to disagree. “I feel Dan is feeling the pressure of the fact One Gro does not have support they had hoped for in Creswell,” he says, adding that One Gro representatives have made a few baseless accusations on Facebook, including claims that the opposition campaign is funded and supported by black-market growers.

Isaacson, for his part, says he is concerned about the safety of his workers. “This is an industry where it’s not unheard of for someone to try to target a manager at a farm and be violent, and we’ve all accepted that to a degree, but this was appalling,” he says.

October 23, 2017 03:19 PM

Eugene Weekly’s story last week on the local antifa movement has garnered heated response.

A man named Jacob Laskey was profiled in the story. He emailed EW over the weekend announcing he had taken issues of the paper and burned them. In the video subtitles he calls himself an “anti-antifa supremacist.” Eugene Antifa allege on their website that Laskey is associated with the American Front white supremacist group.


Laskey describes his video on the Wolfclan Armory YouTube page as “Patriots Outraged by Eugene Weekly's pro-Domestic-Terrorist Antifa Propaganda gathered up thousands issues in Eugene OR and threw them away and celebrated by burning them!”

He writes that “carloads” of patriots threw “thousands” of copies of EW away and celebrated with an “A Eugene Weekly Antifa Propaganda Burn,” and adds, “Eugene Weekly’s pro Domestic Terrorist propaganda is not tolerated.” He calls to “Burn Eugene Weekly for backing Antifa!”

The video then shows the newspapers on fire set to the music of Burzum, a Norwegian “black metal” band that is the solo project of a man who calls himself Varg Vikernes. Vikernes served 21 years in prison for murder and church arsons. Laskey himself went prison in 2007 for throwing stones etched with swastikas through the window of Temple Beth Israel synagogue in 2002.

Laskey posts his diatribes regularly on his YouTube channel, including a previous response to EW's request for comment for the antifa story.

Taking and burning newspapers is a controversial method of attempting to silence the free press.

EW has filed a police report with the Eugene Police Department.

If you notice any empty EW boxes that need filling, please call 541-484-0519.

If you witnessed anyone taking large numbers of EWs or witnessed the burning, please call the police nonemergency line at 541-682-5111.

The nearly five minute video is below.

October 20, 2017 02:19 PM

I arrived in Barcelona Sept. 12 to begin a study abroad program through Arcadia University. The program brings together 25 American students, and we take classes at our program’s center and the local public university, Pompeu Fabra University (UPF).

One of the first topics mentioned during our orientation was the Oct. 1, Catalan Independence Referendum. If you were a tourist visiting Barcelona for a few days, it would be easy to miss signs of the controversial vote. In most of the city, life goes on as normal. However, once you know what to look for, you started to notice the pro-independence flags and banners on many balconies, and understand why people are walking around draped with the Catalan flag.

Our program director ensured us that non-violence was a priority of the pro-independence movement, and that he would monitor the news and make sure we were aware of any protests or potentially dangerous situations. Members of the Catalan police force, Mossos d’Esquadra, also visited our class and ensured us that the city was still very safe, but advised us to stay away from any protests, as it is very easy to get caught up in the chaos and, should the situation become violent, the police will not take the time to differentiate between protesters and observers.

As the date of the vote approached, we got frequent updates on areas where protesters were gathered and were advised to avoid those areas. The U.S. Embassy in Madrid and the U.S. Consulate General in Barcelona also sent updates advising U.S. citizens in Spain to avoid demonstrations and to check on social media of local authorities for more information. Classes at our program’s center and at UPF were cancelled on two separate occasions, as a result of a citywide general strike and planned demonstrations.

I have seen some large groups of demonstrators, numbering more in the hundreds than thousands. However, I have been avoiding the major gathering places and I know it would be easy to find even bigger groups. Before the vote, I would often see demonstrators, young to old, walking around carrying flags and posters, on their way to or from a demonstration, always in favor of independence. This continued after the vote, until the day before the Catalan leader was scheduled to announce a unilateral declaration of independence, when I noticed a huge shift.

That day, everyone I saw with a flag was carrying the Spanish flag, a symbol of unification and rejection of Catalan independence. As the possibility of independence has become more real, those who may have protested the vote are becoming more vocal about their opinions.

In my apartment building and gym the Spanish news is always on. I pick up a fair amount of information from these sources, but also rely on BBC and other international news outlets for updates, in addition to those I receive from my program. These sources are accurate, but they focus on the demonstrations and paint the city as being in chaos, which I have not been experiencing.

As a visitor, it is hard to say whether I am in favor of independence. It is inspiring to see the passion of pro-Catalan people, and those who simply protest for the right to vote. The fight for Catalan independence is not new, and has been a part of the Catalan identity since the cultural renaissance in the mid 19th century, which emphasized pride in the Catalonian language and traditions that are still celebrated today.

Catalonia was an individual territory at the time of the unification of Aragon and Castile, which created Spain as we know it, and September 11, the day Catalonians lost the right to rule themselves, has been celebrated as the National Day of Catalonia since 1886.

However, some potential ramifications of an independence declaration make me lean towards opposing separation—separation could harm the economy, the European Union would not welcome Catalonia, and there are even rumors that Messi would leave FC Barcelona if Catalan leaves. I think the Spanish government needs to be willing to open up a discourse with the Catalan government.

As a visiting American, witnessing this struggle gives me insight into the complex history of Europe. It is difficult to see something like this happening in America. The passion for independence in Catalonia is deep rooted, and has built over years and years of perceived poor treatment from the Spanish government. A cab driver described the relationship between Catalonia and Spain as that of an unhappy marriage. Catalonia has been having problems for quite a while, but Spain ignores the problems and expects the marriage to continue.

Now, Catalonia has had enough and is threatening divorce, but as a last resort, wants to try marriage counseling and work out their problems. I certainly hope Spain and Catalonia can create a happy ending.

Harper Johnson is graduate of South Eugene High School and former EW summer intern.

October 19, 2017 01:21 PM

When Eugene Symphony’s new music director Francesco Lecce-Chong took the podium Monday night, he explained that the musicians arrayed in front of him were perfect for Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony.

That’s because they were all teenagers, members of the Eugene Springfield Youth Symphony, who were rehearsing in the band room at South Eugene High School.

Professional musicians, the conductor explained, might have better technique but they can be too cool and restrained in making music. The Fifth embodies the kind of passions that rage during adolescence. “Love and death!” he said. “Don’t be afraid to go for it!”

Lecce-Chong’s visit to the orchestra’s rehearsal is part of a larger campaign the 30-year-old conductor has been waging since he took over from Danail Rachev on July 1. In brief, Lecce-Chong intends to become a well known part of the greater Eugene-Springfield community, not just another musician known only to symphony fans.

As a first step, he’s moved here and rented an apartment in downtown Eugene. Unlike most of his predecessors at the symphony, who commuted in for concerts, he actually lives here.

Since his arrival, Lecce-Chong has also been out pressing the flesh around town.

He conducted the University of Oregon Marching Band playing the National Anthem at the Ducks’ football season opener in Autzen Stadium. He’s talked to the Rotary Club. And he’s expanded the traditional pre-concert talk, with its somewhat classroom feel, by adding in a symphony happy hour at a local pub one evening before the concert.

And he delighted an audience of 5,000 at the symphony’s free summer pops concert in Cuthbert Amphitheater last July when he conducted the Star Wars theme by waving a light saber in place of his usual baton.

“Some people are going to think I conduct everything with a light saber,” he said later.

At this week’s youth symphony rehearsal, Lecce-Chong singled out the string players for a pep talk. One particular passage from the Tchaikovsky, he told the players, should blow the roof right off the band room. “You should really be wailing away. Hold nothing back! From the moment we hit that note we should be one wild hurricane!”

The young musicians immediately played louder — and better.

In a more-restrained moment before he left, turning the rehearsal back over to David Jacobs, the regular conductor, Lecce-Chong talked about the huge importance of youth orchestras in his own life and career.

“The reason I’m here is because of a youth orchestra,” he said. “And I’ll never forget that.”

Playing in an orchestra, he went on, requires a wide range of skills sometimes not fully appreciated even by musicians.

He began to list them: You have to be able to read music, he said. You must develop proper technique. You have to understand how to follow the conductor. And, he said, you must learn to listen.

“Listening is the most important skill in an orchestra,” Lecce-Chong said. “Don’t think about this too hard, But what you are doing is amazing.”

Before he left, the conductor added one more item to that list.

“The last thing is, it requires your own heart. Your own emotional life. So don’t ever take what you’re doing for granted!”

October 18, 2017 03:22 PM

Kesey Square is now, officially, Kesey Square.

The Eugene City Council settled the battle for Kesey Square’s name Wednesday, Oct. 18. The council voted 5-1 in favor of renaming the central downtown area from Broadway Plaza. 

Councilor Mike Clark, the sole opposed vote, was a member of the ad hoc naming committee, which recommended the name change to the council. Alan Zelenka and Greg Evans were absent from the meeting. 

The work session convened in the Tykeson room of the Eugene Public Library while county union members were on a picket line downtown. 

Mayor Lucy Vinis explained that out of respect for the workers this and future meetings would be held off-site. 

Colloquially referred to as Kesey Square since the “The Storyteller” — a statute of Ken Kesey reading to children — was unveiled in 2003, Broadway Plaza’s name is now officially changed. 

“I don’t think we needed the committee,” councilor Betty Taylor said, referring to the ad hoc committee that recommended the name be changed. “The public named it before that. It wasn’t as if we had something brand new to name.”

Emily Semple, representative of Ward 1 agreed with Taylor that there didn’t need to be so much action around renaming the space. 

“I don’t really think that naming it Kesey Square is going to change anything,” Semple said, “it seems like when we decided to make it official there was an outcry about it. I think that it has been accepted by the entire city and maybe we should have asked for other names but really it’s already called Kesey Square.”

Clark was obviously frustrated by a lack of options. While the committee was formed on his recommendation, he said that the charge the committee was given did not align with what he thought he proposed. Rather than considering naming options, the committee had the binary choice of whether the plaza should be renamed Kesey Square or not, Clark said. 

“It was brought up, ‘should we consider another name,’” Clark told the council. “No other names were considered or we were instructed not to have other names considered.”

Chris Pryor, representative of Ward 8, agreed with Clark that he would have liked to see the committee consider other names but determined that if they wanted to consider them they would have made more of an effort. Despite the limited nature of the committee, Pryor thought that its work allowed the council to “measure twice and cut once.” 

“I don’t want to second guess the committee,” he said. “I think this was measuring twice so we can now make the cut.”

Vinis contended that considering other names would have caused the committee to work past the 45-day window they were assigned. 

Now that the name is official, the city will work to address the unanimous feeling of the split committee — to make downtown the welcoming and inviting place that everyone believes it should be. 

October 17, 2017 01:12 PM

Garrison Keillor’s 40-year run as host of A Prairie Home Companion came to an end last year, but the consummate storyteller continues to perform.

At 8 pm Friday, Oct. 20, Keillor will host his new one-man show at the Hult Center, regaling audiences with tales and insights from his career in radio, comedy and American middlebrow culture. Eugene Weekly sat down with Keillor — electronically speaking — to gain some some perspective on a career spent trying to make America laugh.

What advice would you offer to aspiring creatives on how they might endure through the trials and tribulations of an artistic path? 

The tribulations of artists are mostly self-inflicted, and you need to inflict them and then move on and connect with an audience and make yourself useful. In my early 20s I wrote poetry and worked at ambiguity, hoping to impress my peers, and then I jumped into radio where ambiguity is not viable, and that was a lucky move.

It changed everything. I was on the radio early in the morning, which is entirely different from doing a late-night poetry reading. It's a healthy and exciting thing to have an audience and to figure out how to engage them. 

You just published a piece in the Washington Post that excoriates Swedish judges for their choice of Kazuo Ishiguro for the Nobel Prize in Literature. Why is humor is so important in literature, and why do certain literary types look down on it?

The column in the Post was satiric. The Nobel Prize is a sacred cow and its tail needs to be pulled. And I think Ishiguro is a bleak nihilistic writer of a sort the Swedish Academy has honored enough of. I prefer the wild humanistic comedy of Philip Roth. He is ten times the writer Ishiguro is. Twenty times. 

A Prairie Home Companion featured music prominently. Why do you believe music has such power to bring people together?

  I am sentimental about public education, which gave its pupils a basic grounding in American music, mythology, history, so that we all participated in a common culture, had common references. I disapprove of public education that leans toward self-expression at the expense of that commonality. I think that when an audience stands and sings "America," "Shenandoah," "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot," "The Battle Hymn of the Republic," that we feel bonded to each other, even more so if the audience sings well. There is an emotional footing that people feel.

Who are some of your favorite poets?

I like young unknown poets who dare to speak clearly. It's the most thrilling aspect of doing the Almanac, coming upon someone I've never heard of who tells me something I need to hear.

October 17, 2017 05:34 PM

A statement released this afternoon by dean of the University of Oregon School of Music and Dance confirms the names of the seven-person committee that is to direct the planning of the 2018 Oregon Bach Festival. Eugene Weekly reported the names based on a source on Oct. 9.

The statement also sets the date for the 2018 festival and confirms that some previously planned events, such as premieres of works by Richard Danielpour and Phillip Glass, will move forward.

Perhaps notably, it doesn't mention the "guest curator" plan proposed by executive director Janelle McCoy in the immediate aftermath of the still-unexplained Aug. 24 firing of artistic director Matthew Halls. McCoy is not mentioned in today's statement and has been virtually invisible in recent weeks.

Here is the full text of Dean Brad Foley's statement:

Dear Friends of Oregon Bach Festival:

Following the grand opening of Berwick Hall earlier this month, all of us at Oregon Bach Festival are looking ahead to next season. The musical performance in the Don and Willie Tykeson Rehearsal Hall was an important reminder of what OBF does best – deliver an exceptional level of music performance and education to our community. Sitting in the state-of-the-art space, I was inspired by the music, the performers, and the audience members. I received feedback from a number of supporters that the experience gave them a strong feeling of hope and optimism for our beloved Festival. I also received a number of questions about what was next for OBF.

As you are aware, management of the Festival has been moved under my direction at the School of Music and Dance. I have been immensely grateful for the steadfast support of the Board of the Friends of Oregon Bach Festival, which released a statementreaffirming its collective dedication to helping the Festival flourish as a cultural cornerstone of our community. The OBF team is also extremely dedicated to the Festival’s legacy. I am working closely with both groups, as well as the music school faculty, outside musicians and conductors, donors, and patrons to ensure that the Festival continues to deliver on its mission of celebrating the music, legacy, and spirit of J.S. Bach.

To that end, I have assembled (and will chair) a highly-qualified artistic committeefrom the staff, faculty, and board to assist with planning for the 2018 Festival:

• Royce Saltzman, Director Emeritus and OBF Board member

• Michael Anderson, OBF Director of Artistic Administration

• Josh Gren, OBF Director of Marketing and Communications

• Steve Vacchi, Professor of Bassoon, OBF Orchestra member, and OBF Board member

• Sharon Paul, Professor of Choral Activities, Director of the UO Chamber Choir (an OBF ensemble)

• Peter Van de Graaff, KWAX Music Director, Program Director of the Beethoven Satellite Network, bass-baritone soloist

Many of the artistic programming activities of past years will be preserved. In addition to the world premiere of Richard Danielpour’s The Passion of Yeshua and the regional premiere of Philip Glass’ Piano Concerto No. 3 with pianist Simone Dinnerstein, we are planning an opening concert of choral and orchestral music by J.S. Bach, performances of Bach cantatas within the Discovery Series, and a large choral-orchestral work to close the 2018 Festival. A number of other guest artists are currently in talks to join us. The artistic committee is working diligently on all aspects of programming for the coming summer and they hope to have more definitive information to share with everyone in the coming weeks.

I would welcome the opportunity to connect with you and dialogue about where we are now, as well as our plans for the 2018 season. Until that time, I am exceedingly grateful for all you have done to support the vision and legacy of Oregon Bach Festival.

With deepest appreciation,

Brad Foley 
Dean, University of Oregon School of Music & Dance

P.S. Save the dates of June 28 - July 15 for next year’s gala and Festival!




Brad Foley 
Dean, University of Oregon School of Music & Dance

October 9, 2017 05:23 PM

The nine-member ad hoc naming committee recommending a name to the Eugene City Council voted 7-2 on Oct. 9 in favor of officially renaming Broadway Plaza to Kesey Square. While the committee failed to reach a consensus on the name, it agreed that the city needs to invest in the heart of downtown in more ways than renaming it.

Vinis asked each of the city councilors to recommend someone to sit on the committee. One appointee, Tim Mueller, was not recommended but volunteered himself. City Councilor Mike Clark is the only councilor to sit on the committee himself, and he voted against the name change.

The committee is recommending that the City Council rename Broadway Plaza to Kesey Square, but other names could still be considered. Their job was not to come up with other options and the city council could still decide to name it something else. “I think calling it Kesey Square is what everybody I know [calls it],” Mueller says in a phone interview with EW. “I think it’s an organic name adoption. The community has adopted that name for the space and I think the community should be honored by having the politicians agree with them and call it what everyone wants to call it already.”

While the official name of the downtown space at the intersection of Broadway and Willamette Street is Broadway Plaza, even the city of Eugene website refers to it as Kesey Square.

Brittany Quick-Warner of the Eugene Chamber of Commerce says she was concerned that the committee wasn’t addressing the possibility of choosing a name besides Kesey Square. “If all we do is rename it we aren’t doing anything to make the space what we imagine it to be,” she said at the meeting on Monday. “Changing the name is not going to get us to where it will be inviting and inclusive to people.”

The discussion was limited to Broadway Plaza versus Kesey Square because of time constraints, Eugene Mayor Lucy Vinis says. “We could go to another stage, we had 45 days and nobody floated an alternative suggestion,” she says, “so there was nothing else to choose from.”

The space downtown is familiar to Eugeneans as is the debate over what it is called. Kesey was a renowned author, University of Oregon alumnus and drug user. Proponents of renaming the plaza after Kesey emphasize his role as an author and suggest that detractors should forgive him his illicit narcotic discretions.

Others in the community say they don’t think that honoring a notorious drug user is appropriate, regardless of his other accolades.

Mueller, who believes that he can bridge the divide between most of the committee members, pointed out that Kesey’s drug use isn’t a clearcut issue. In Kesey’s time, LSD wasn’t illegal Mueller says, and marijuana — the cause of jail time for Kesey — is no longer illegal in the state of Oregon.

Jeff Geiger, a local author and committee member, pointed out that one of the largest concerns of the public is not what the space is called but whether the city will spend any more time trying to determine a name before they start acting.

With a recommendation for renaming Broadway Plaza in hand, the City Council will vote Oct. 18. Following that vote the council will begin deliberating further investment in the space.

“It’s an oversimplification to say that a name is going to change what happens downtown but it gives us a start,” Geiger says. “It’s going to take more than good vibes to get the square where we want it to be.”

Friends of Kesey Square advocated for the name change

October 9, 2017 04:38 PM

An unconfirmed report from a reliable source says the dean of the University of Oregon's School of Music and Dance has named a seven-person committee to help craft a new artistic vision for the beleaguered Oregon Bach Festival.

Dean Brad Foley has previously said he would appoint a seven-member group — composed of two board members, two OBF staffers, two musicians and a community member — to help OBF executive director Janelle McCoy plan the 2018 festival.

That announcement that the dean would appoint a committee followed the sudden and still-unexplained firing on Aug. 24 of Matthew Halls, the popular Brit who had been the 47-year-old festival's artistic director since 2013.

Foley did not corroborate the names but said in an email this afternoon (Oct. 9) that he was "hoping for board approval tonight and provost OK soon."

According to the unconfirmed report, the committee members will be:

  • Brad Foley, Dean of the School of Music and Dance and OBF Board Member
  • Royce Saltzman, Director Emeritus and OBF Board Member
  • Michael Anderson, OBF Director of Artistic Administration
  • Josh Gren, OBF Director of Marketing and Communications
  • Steve Vacchi, Professor of Bassoon, OBF Orchestra member, and OBF Board member
  • Sharon Paul, Professor of Choral Activities, Director of the University of Oregon Chamber Choir, an OBF ensemble
  • Peter Van de Graaff, Music Director KWAX Classical Radio, Program Director of the Beethoven Satellite Network, bass-baritone soloist
October 6, 2017 11:40 AM

Protesters chanting "Nothing about us, without us" shut down University of Oregon Michael Schill's State of the University address Friday, Oct. 6.

The "State of Reality Protest" wrote on its Facebook event:

Due to the recent acceptance of fascism and neo nazis, victim blaming language, the insurmountable increases to students tuition, the blatant disregard of the students requests and the ignorantly happy go lucky attitude being shown by President Schill towards this institution that works to suppress its students and to create a wage/class gap between the haves and havenots, the students have decided that this will not stand. In an alliance of all walks of university life, we will show President Schill that we will not sit ideally by as he cherry picks the positive condition of the university, while this sorry attempt to mask the truth is not the reality for the average student.

Radical change requires radical action.

In order to properly show President Schill that his actions are not welcome at this university, we will, as a collective unit, take the stage at his “State of the University” Address.

Eugene Weekly filmed the event on Facebook live. Watch below.

Schill later gave his address via video.

Below is the press release from the UO Student Collective:


At 11:00 AM, Friday October 6th, a large group of students took the stage in the EMU Ballroom during the University of Oregon President Michael Schill’s “State of the University” address. Led by students of color, LGBTQA3 students, and low-income students, the they issued a set of demands of the administration. These demands are not new to the president and the rest of the university administration. Students have repeatedly sought to work with the administration through more sanctioned means, but have been met with neglect, disregard, and outright opposition. Desperate, the students resorted to using this platform to put pressure on the administration to meet the students’ needs.

As students spoke about their grievances, Schill left along with donors and other administration. A large group remained in the ballroom to demonstrate their support for those on stage and hear out the students.

The listed demands were:

1.         Ban Immigration Customs Agency (ICE) agent presence on campus and condemn the agencies’ repeated violations to human rights.

2.         Establish a competent response to remove both ICE and neo-Nazi presence as the responsibility of University of Oregon Police Department.

3.         Prioritize accessibility for undocumented and DACAmented students.

4.         Establish regulations on hate-speech and neo-Nazi groups that come to campus.

5.         The Office of International Affairs, should publicity advertise the bias collect team as a tool for Muslim Students and community members to share their experience of racism, discrimination and any other form of hate through the online site. The bias collect team should be advertised throughout University of Oregon’s social media accounts and flyers should be posted all over campus from the Erb Memorial Union to residence halls.

6.         Alongside the bias collect team, the Office of International Affairs and the Center for Multicultural Academic Excellence should work together to hire a Muslim advisor to serve the Muslim students.

7.         In the Erb Memorial Union (preferably first floor by the foot wash area), a prayer room should be created so that Muslim students can peaceful fulfill their five daily prayers without fear of being kicked out of the space.

8.         A year to year improvement to faculty to student ratio particularly for introductory classes

9.         End the layoffs of UO faculty

10.       Have a graduate employee on the board of trustees

11.       Freeze tuition, develop a plan to decrease tuition over the next 5 years

12.       Schill, other high ranked leaders and faculty shall explicitly say the names of white supremacy and label white nationalism as hate speech and explicitly condemn it on campus.

13.       University Housing shall reverse their decision to stop offering student employees free shift meal since many employees rely on them. In addition, the University Housing shall reimburse its employees the shift meals they have been charged for in the form of back wages.

14.       University Housing shall rescind its decision of requiring first-year college students to live on campus since it is a financial burden to low income and first-generation students.

15.       Start to cut carbon emissions NOW, not 30 years from now

16.       Increased University Investment in LGBT Programs like the LGBTESS, LGBT Friendly Housing, and the Trans Care Team.

17.       Expand the Gender Equity Hall to Accommodate the Mandatory Freshmen Housing.

18.       Increase Pay and Benefits for Stipended Student Positions

19.       Increase Access to Counseling and Mental Health Services

20.       Implement an Intersectional and Mandatory Cultural Fluency Program and Shift Training Responsibilities to Human Resources

21.       Reconstitute the Bias Response Team

22.       Allot University Funds to the Student Identity Spaces to Hire an Independent Historian to Research the History of Marginalized Students and Student Organizing at the UO.

In response to the action, the president issued an email to all students, faculty, and staff condescending the students who took the stage. He claimed that there were a “small” number of protesters, despite the fact the protesters hardly fit the stage and disregarding the group that remained in the ballroom. 

In his email, the president frames himself as a victim to “disruptive” protesters who do not understand the “value of free speech.” He disregards the obvious power imbalance at play here. These students do not have access to the same platform as the administration. We cannot email every student, faculty member, staff person, and alumn our grievances. The very email in which he condemns students for taking his platform demonstrates the fact that his platform was not taken at all. The president and administration left students no choice but to take the platform afforded to Schill for themselves.

Schill claimed he values free speech on campus. This contradicts his frequent condemnation and neglect of the voices of the most marginalized students here. Further he has failed to publicly condemn the increasing white supremacist propaganda and organizing occurring on and near campus. So we ask, whose free speech do you support President Schill? Free speech is the right of individuals and communities to express themselves without repression from the state. The students are not the state nor the repressors. Taking to the stage and using this platform was an act of free speech - not a violation of it. Considering the power imbalances at play, it is clear that the president and administration are in the role of the repressors and the state - not the students.

His announcement of a lecture and panel series teaching students about the “value of free speech.”  This is not only condescending and paternalistic, but also demonstrates that the president does not understand free speech. Schill proposed to the University Senate last year a new policy restricting the time, place, and manner of student protest. After revoking it due to press coverage and pushback from students and faculty, he has once again indicated he will pursue this repressive policy once again. Schill is not a champion of free speech; he is a demonstrated enemy to it.

Instead of condemning these students, the president should be thanking for them to courage to speak and passion for making the University of Oregon a better place. The University of Oregon Student Collective - a broad coalition of student groups and individual students who seek to take back the university for the students and workers - will be organizing a teach-in and panel series about free speech and the importance of student protest to inform students and affiliates of the University about the importance of free speech, valuing the voice of marginalized people, and the positive role of protest on campus. We encourage Schill and the administration to better inform themselves about free speech and student organizing.

Nothing about us without us. Expect resistance.


October 5, 2017 12:28 PM

Sen. Ron Wyden sent out a press release Oct 5 citing the mass shootings in Las Vegas, Orlando and Umpqua Community College and saying, "These tragedies require more than ‘thoughts and prayers.’ They demand common-sense action and that’s what each of these three bills would provide.” 

The bills include one that would close a background check loophole; another that would repeal liability protections for the firearms industry that protect gun makers, distributors, sellers or trade associations; and a third that lose a loophole that "allows semi-automatic weapons to be easily modified to fire at the rate of automatic weapons."

The full press release is below. 


Wyden, Colleagues Introduce Three Bills to Check Gun Violence

Legislation would close background-check loopholes, end industry liability protections and ban bump-stock devices

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., this week joined his Senate colleagues in introducing three bills that would close a firearm background check loophole, end liability protections for gun manufacturers and ban bump-stock devices that can convert rifles into machine guns.

“The mass shooting in Las Vegas takes its place in a tragic litany of massacres that include Orlando, Umpqua Community College and far too many others,” Wyden said. “These tragedies require more than ‘thoughts and prayers.’ They demand common-sense action and that’s what each of these three bills would provide.”

The Background Check Completion Act would require a completed background check for every gun buyer who buys a gun from a federally licensed gun dealer. When a criminal background check indicates a firearm purchaser may have a criminal record, the FBI tries to determine whether the purchaser can legally buy a gun. If this process takes longer than 72 hours, gun dealers can complete the sale even though there is a heightened risk that the buyer is legally disqualified from purchasing a gun.

The Equal Access to Justice for Victims of Gun Violence Act would repeal existing legislation that offers liability protections for the firearm industry. In 2005, Congress passed legislation that provides immunity in state and federal court from civil liability for manufacturers, distributors, and dealers of firearms, as well as their trade associations, in most negligence and products liability actions. This immunity from liability under well-established common law principles that apply to everyone else in society is unique to the gun industry.

The Automatic Gun Fire Prevention Act would close a loophole that allows semi-automatic weapons to be easily modified to fire at the rate of automatic weapons, which have been illegal for more than 30 years.

 “Americans are voicing their warranted frustrations on the urgent need to take steps like these three pieces of legislation to close dangerous loopholes, make every reasonable effort to provide background checks and hold the gun industry accountable for its continued failure to prevent senseless acts of gun violence,” Wyden said.

September 27, 2017 05:00 PM

A month after the controversial firing of Oregon Bach Festival artistic director Matthew Halls, the University of Oregon is giving control of the troubled festival back to its School of Music and Dance, whose dean says he will name a local "artistic advisory group" to pull together next summer's festival.

"That's the No. 1 goal, to get it up and running," Brad Foley, the music school dean, said in an interview late today, Sept. 27, after the surprise annnouncement of the administrative shift was made in a news release from the UO. "I hope to get it sorted out by the end of October."

Once the 2018 festival is set, Foley said, longer-term planning can begin about how the five-decade-old festival might look in the future.

Foley said he plans to name an advisory group of seven, with two representatives each from OBF staff and board, two from UO faculty and one person from the larger community.

The music school ran OBF from its founding in 1970 until 2002, he said. It was most recently managed by the university's provost, Jayanth Banavar,, who signed off on the still-unexplained termination on Aug. 24 of Halls, a popular and well respected musician.

The release quoted Brad Stangeland, president of the festival's advisory board of trustees, as approving the plan. “Members of the Friends of the Oregon Bach Festival board are very supportive of this move,” he said in the release. “We view it as an important step to examine festival operations and ensure a bright and sustainable future. Collectively, the board is impressed by the commitment of university leadership to perpetuate the artistry that we — as audiences, musicians and donors — have long cherished.”

Neither Stangeland nor the Bach board was consulted before Halls was let go on Aug. 24, Stangeland said at the time.

Absent from much of the public discussion on Wednesday was OBF executive director Janelle McCoy, who is believed to have recommended Halls' firing. She was not quoted in the release. Foley said she will work under his direction to administer the 2018 festival.

The release says neither the UO nor OBF intends to revisit Halls' firing, which caused shock and widespread scorn in the classical music community here and abroad. Halls, an Oxford-educated Brit, has been a popular replacement for founding artistic director Helmuth Rilling, who retired from OBF in 2013.

Since the firing, the UO has clamped down hard on information about Halls' departure, and it remains publicly unexplained. Halls and the UO signed an agreement that gave him $90,000 and in which both he and UO officials agreed not to disparage each other.

September 22, 2017 12:08 PM

Oodles of music fans around the world recognize the voice of Eugene musician Halie Loren — that smooth, rich, pitch-perfect instrument that’s graced nine album’s worth of pop and jazz. Fewer, it would seem, are aware that Loren is also a crackerjack songwriter, but one listen to “Butterfly” from her most recent album, Butterfly Blue, reveals a sophisticated composer and lyricist who seems poised to soar solely on the strength of her own originals.

For years, fans, friends and fellow musicians have been urging Loren to take the leap and release an album devoted exclusively to her original work. That time appears to have arrived. The songwriter is currently in pre-production work with producer Troy Miller — who’s worked with the likes of Amy Winehouse, Jamie Cullum, Gregory Porter and Laura Mvula — and is crowd-funding the new album through a Kickstarter campaign.

Eugene Weeklycaught up with Loren this week to talk about her latest project.


Tell us about the new project?

I'm about to go into the studio to create a new album; it’ll be my tenth album, but this time the spotlight is going to be on my original music. So it connects my identity as a recording artist, singer and songwriter, giving equal attention to all three of those roles that I get to play. I’ve been waiting a really long time to create an album that highlights my songs as the primary focus. And so, as a result, this album feels like an intensely personal and artistically important undertaking for me. I wanted to do something entirely different, approach-wise, in order to completely step into a new realm. And so I'm going to be working with a producer rather than self-producing, for the first time in my career, and working in the context of other studios instead of my own. And essentially stepping outside all my comfort zones in hopes of making something that surprises my fans and me in new way.

In order to embark on this pretty big step outside the ordinary for me, I’ve taken on something else new for me, which is a crowd-funding campaign through Kickstarter to help fuel this project, and give it possibilities that it wouldn’t otherwise have, and by that, I mean the music. The kickstarter campaign also has opened up this entirely new door for me to be able to interact with my fans and the listeners of my music in a totally different way, as kind of partners in the process, as opposed to being more of a lone wolf about it. I get to engage with people about it while I’m doing it. It's also kind of scary for me; it’s more akin to the live experience in a way. It's about engagement.


Was it a tough decision, to ask people for money for a record?

Absolutely. It’s hard to ask no matter what you do — whether you’re an artist or not. It’s challenging for humans to ask each other for help, or for time, for effort. But I had to work up to this for a really long time. I read prospectives on it. I watched other people’s interviews on it, got all these angles on what crowdfunding is all about. I really had to change my thinking about what it all really means.

And my sheepishness has sort of morphed into less of an asking for a favor and more of an invitation for people who are already interested to have access. It feels more like an exchange of energies, and a fun collaboration. It’s always hard to ask. It never stops being hard to ask; at least it hasn’t yet for me. Because you’re putting yourself out there, you're making yourself vulnerable. There’s always that small part of yourself that you feel responding with that independent streak — putting so much value on being able to do it all yourself, and that pressure to keep going that direction even when it's self limiting and even harming what you're trying to do, just for the sake of knowing you can go it alone. Being totally a one-man army for your art. That doesn’t always serve the art. So I'm trying something new.


Why an album of originals right now?

For a lot of different reasons. One, I've had a dream of doing a project like this for years, but I kept sort of putting it off and saying, ‘Oh, the next time.’ And now here I am with nine albums, and I felt like maybe waiting until the moment where it felt safe to step out in a new direction, I would just be waiting forever. Because I’ve made all these albums that have mostly been focused on known songs, by the jazz greats and by some of music’s most notable songwriters, I’ve sort of put my identity as a songwriter as a peripheral identity. But, in truth, I’ve been writing songs as long as I’ve been a professional musician, and they're just as much a part of my internal identity as being a vocalist is. I've sort of underplayed it my entire career.

I have gotten so much feedback for so many years from so many people who listen to albums and who have seen me live that they would really love to know when I’m going to create an album of original music, because they really have felt a connection with the songs that are mine, and fully my voice. There’s a different kind of connection that they have to those songs. After enough times hearing that, it stirred my own courage on being able to take this step ... I’ve heard a lot of encouragement from a lot of people, and that has definitely helped me in making the decision in making this artistic move. Artists are sensitive; we're scared to reveal ourselves to the world when it’s really personal. So hearing that feedback, it means something.

Thirdly, I’ve written some songs in the last year or two that I feel more compelled to put out into the world than anything I’ve written in the past. I really need for these songs to live. And I have a strong feeling that someone else out there might really gain something soul-food wise from these same songs, that I’ve gained a lot of personal strength from, hopefully.


What’s the status of the campaign right now?

As of right now, it’s at 80 percent of the goal, which is really an amazing thing to see so much outpouring of support, with still nine days to go. I’m super grateful for the contributions that everybody’s who’s participated has made so far. It’s really been an extremely humbling experience in many ways, to see how many people are willing to get behind this. It’s an amazing trust that they're putting in me, and in turn I’m really trusting my fans to help lift this project up. We’re making it happen together. One of the most fun things of doing this Kickstarter campaign is seeing which rewards people choose, because I’ve created so many different options. Original art created by me was one of the most popular packages. So many people have responded to the packages that are nature oriented. There's a calendar where I'm going to Photoshop the fan’s cat and me. I love that. It tickles me.


Tell me about the album itself?

We’re going to be recording my original songs, myself and the producer Troy Miller, who has worked with so many artists that I deeply admire, including Jamie Cullum, Gregory Porter, Laura Mvula, Amy Winehouse … and I really admire his artistry, and I’m super excited that we are going to be collaborating. I think it’s going to blow my mind what he comes up with, and what we come up with together as a result. We are going to be working both in London and New York. What we’ll ultimately be working on is somewhere between ten and 12 songs for the album — some that I cannot leave off of this project, and a few that I absolutely love, but I'll see when we put our heads together what one of these songs will really steer the album together in a cohesive direction that we can really get excited about. A big part of the excitement for me of working with Troy and working outside the zone I've been working in for so long is that I will get to focus almost entirely on the creative aspects as opposed to technical studio aspects of the recording process, and I don’t know what that feels like. My entire career I've spent having to wear so many hats at the same time recording an album.


For further information or to donate to Halie Loren’s new album, visit her Facebook page or go to https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/halieloren/halie-loren-is-making-a-new-album

September 22, 2017 10:12 AM


Thomas W. Morris, artistic director of the Ojai Music Festival in California, has urged Eugene Mayor Lucy Vinis to help the beleaguered Oregon Bach Festival secede from the University of Oregon and become an independent non-profit organization.

In a letter emailed today (Sept. 22), Morris wrote that the sudden and unexplained firing of OBF artistic director Matthew Halls on Aug. 24 harms not only the Oregon Bach Festival but hurts the image of Eugene itself.

"What we now have is a venerable and beloved institution the object of ridicule and derision in the national and international press, a situation that reflects badly not only on the Festival but on the city of Eugene," he wrote.

Morris suggested that OBF may not survive the scandal in the music world here and abroad. "This has been an extremely important international music festival that is clearly in danger for its very existence due entirely to self-inflicted wounds," he said.

He called on Mayor Vinis to "convene a group of community leaders to assess the situation and form a plan to save the Oregon Bach Festival."

Morris became involved in the situation when, shortly after Eugene Weekly broke the story of Halls' firing, the UO put out a release suggesting that OBF and Halls were "parting ways" as part of a strategic move toward a  festival model that uses no permanent artistic director. The UO announcement said that the 70-year-old Ojai festival operated that way.

Not so, says Morris, who has been artistic director of the Ojai Music Festival since 2004. The Ojai fest does hire different music directors each year, but has a single artistic director to give it a coherent vision.

We've asked Mayor Vinis and the UO for comment.

The complete text of the letter follows:


Dear Mayor Vinis:

This is an open letter to you from a music lover and long-time arts administrator (running the Boston Symphony and Cleveland Orchestra for seventeen years each and as artistic director of the Ojai Music Festival for fifteen years) who is deeply concerned about the recent meltdown of the venerable Oregon Bach Festival.  I am sure you and Eugene music lovers must be upset as well. This has been an extremely important international music festival that is clearly in danger for its very existence due entirely to self-inflicted wounds.

The challenge of any founder-led organization trying to get beyond its founder is daunting under the best of circumstances. Recent events complicate this task:

·      Confidence of its supporters and artists is deteriorating;

·      Confidence in the University of Oregon’s stewardship of the Festival is compromised;

·      Understanding of and support for the Festival’s future is clouded by obfuscation, lack of transparency and inane pronouncements; and

·      The abrupt firing of artistic director Matthew Halls, while uncertain as to its rationale, has been appallingly handled publicly.

What we now have is a venerable and beloved institution the object of ridicule and derision in the national and international press, a situation that reflects badly not only on the Festival but on the city of Eugene.

At the root cause of the situation is the simple fact that no one owns this institution: there is no “Oregon Bach Festival, Inc.” with full fiduciary responsibility for the organization. As it exists, the Festival is a presentation by the huge University of Oregon that also employees festival personnel. Recent events demonstrate clearly this is not the best fiduciary structure for the future of the Festival.

What is to be done? I can imagine a very exciting and energizing scenario in which:

·      You, the Mayor, convene a group of community leaders to assess the situation and form a plan to save the Oregon Bach Festival, demonstrating this venerable institution is indeed essential to the community;

·      A group of community leaders and supporters of the Oregon Bach Festival make plans to form a new 501c(3) organization to take over the Festival, pledging to join its new board;

·      All the current players and parties acknowledge publicly that the current situation and how it happened are untenable, committing to putting the past behind and facing the future in a fresh start;

·      The University of Oregon commits in words and deeds to facilitate this metamorphosis to this new organization by pledging bridge support over a reasonable transition period, providing future venues, and providing for the orderly transfer of any Festival assets to the new entity;

·      The new organization hires both artistic and executive and directors who will galvanize support and confidence of the community;

·      The Festival family of artists rallies around the new organization to assist in this essential transition; and

·      All of the above is done with energy, efficiency, and urgency, creating a new public narrative of positive energy, positive action, and positive results.

Artistic organizations succeed if, in addition to possessing a compelling vision and strong effective leaders, they have a strong and effective fiduciary board that feels deep commitment to the institution’s mission and responsible for its future on behalf of the community that in essence owns it. The Oregon Bach Festival deserves no less, but without a new approach, I fear for its future. What it now needs is someone to lead the charge – urgently!

Yours sincerely,

Thomas W. Morris