What If They’d Been Black?

This morning during my regular bike ride along the river, I saw some people who were apparently organized by a group called SOLVE, who were picking up trash along the trail, sometimes with kids, always with a smile.

Wednesday and Thursday afternoons, and on previous warm afternoons as well, I’ve seen dozens — up to 100 — of University of Oregon students gathered along the river playing beer pong, getting drunk, acting obnoxious and leaving some of the trash that the others were picking up today. One day three girls were staggering along the trail and one squatted in the bushes to pee, exclaiming to her friends, “I’m so drunk I couldn’t wait!” The friends laughed.

Others stumbled out of their gathering place onto the trail, oblivious to passing bicycles.

None of these kids was wearing a mask, and most looked underage. They were all white, and seemed like what one might imagine as fraternity/sorority kids.

Imagine if BIPOC folks did this in a park in Eugene — even just one or two gathered with a six-pack, much less 100 with a keg. How fast would the police be on it?

This is happening regularly, apparently, and in a public park. Is Eugene Parks and Rec cool with this? Is the UO proud of how its students represent? Is Eugene comfortable with this double standard?

Jeff Harrison


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