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Changing REMINDERS OF OREGON’S BIGOTED HISTORY SURVIVE AT THE UNIVERSITY OF OREGON,

The

but in the final installment of Identifying discrimination,

Status

The Emerald highlights the actions being taken to change the course of history.

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Ehvan Schectman sued UO on Tuesday. (Photo courtesy of Facebook)

UO Law School Assistant Dean for Student Affairs Nicole Commissiong faces a lawsuit by Schectman. (Photo courtesy of UO)

FORMER LAW STUDENT SUES UO, ALLEGES DISABILITY DISCRIMINATION ➡ JACK

PITCHER, @JACKPITCHER20

Former University of Oregon law school student Ehvan Schectman sued the school on Nov. 10, court records show. Schectman alleges that the law school discriminated against his learning disability and then retaliated against him when he complained about it. Schectman is seeking an unspecified amount for damages and emotional distress he claims to have suffered as a result of the law school failing to accommodate his learning disability. The suit alleges that he was not granted certain legally required accommodations, such as using grammar and spell check software for his essay tests, because they would have given him an unfair advantage compared to other students. Schectman, represented by his father’s law office, is also suing the UO Law School assistant dean for student affairs, Nicole Commissiong. Schectman alleges that Commissiong made him repeat the phrase, “I am normal” during a meeting in her office about his learning disability. Additionally, Schectman alleges that he was unfairly placed on emergency temporary suspension from the school in November 2015 by student conduct director Sandy Weintraub. According to the lawsuit, Schectman grew increasingly frustrated with the law school

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after repeated meetings with faculty to discuss his test taking and tutoring accommodations. Schectman eventually took these frustrations out in a Facebook post, which used the “slang he typically uses when communicating with his similarly-aged friends online,” the lawsuit states. The post was quickly removed, but not before a law school employee saw and saved it. A few days later, Schectman allegedly received the following email from Sandy Weintraub: “I am placing you on temporary suspension beginning immediately (11/18/15) because of a message that you posted on public social media that was reasonably viewed as a threat to students and staff at the University of Oregon.” Schectman’s lawsuit does not specify what the Facebook post said. The Emerald is actively seeking a copy of the post. Weintraub declined to comment on this story. Schectman is being represented by Eugene attorney Andrew Lewinter and the law office of Steven Schectman, his father. According to UO spokesman Tobin Klinger, the university is aware of the lawsuit and will address it through “appropriate channels.” He did not answer questions about the case because it is an open legal matter.

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(Courtesy of Oregon Club Rowing).

Oregon club rowing fosters ‘family and community’ environment through early morning practices ➡ COLE

KUNDICH, @CKUNDICH

Human physiology major Max Davis knows the question by heart now. “How in the world can you wake up that early?” People are always curious how David and his club rowing teammates make it work. From 6 a.m. to 8 a.m., most students are sleeping comfortably or slamming their snooze button repeatedly, but Davis and the rest of the team are in a full sweat. “It can be painful at times,” said Davis. “But when you’re there and working with the guys, it’s fun.” During the fall and spring seasons, their day begins at 5:15 a.m. in front of McArthur Court. They take a bus to nearby Dexter Lake, get their practice in and return to campus around 8:30 a.m. Even with this daunting schedule, the team continues to grow in numbers. The sense of unity, support and competitiveness among the teammates make club rowing one of the most storied programs at the University of Oregon.

“It’s so much more than rowing,” said senior Peter Blink. “It’s like a family and community.” The family culture contributes immensely to the longevity and success of the program. The rowing team will celebrated its 50th anniversary next fall. Men’s and women’s boats practice together and compete against other universities both regionally and nationally. Last season saw the men’s varsity team finish 3rd in the Pac-12 Championships. “It’s good to be in that environment and against competitive teams,” said Davis. The women rowers have long been an established and competitive team as well. In her first season as a freshmen — a “novice” in the rowing community — Annie Gilbert was part of a group that finished second place in nationals. Now a senior, Gilbert has practically seen it all and strives each day to get better. “Coming into it, I didn’t really know where it’d take me,” said Gilbert. “It’s addicting to go

as hard as you can and get these results.” With over 70 students, club rowing is one of the largest club programs on campus. The men’s and women’s teams consist of multiple boats. Top rowers normally compete on the same boats. Even with all its past and current success, the rowing team actively recruits all types of interested rowers, no matter the skill or experience level. Gilbert wanted to get involved on-campus, joining eight weeks into her freshman year. Blink, on the other hand, joined during his third year at UO. “I was just going through the motion of going to classes,” said Blink. “I was searching for a close knit community.” That sense of community appears to be thriving. Even with the time commitment involved, it’s easy to see why many rowers stick around. “Nothing bonds people more than putting your heart and soul out for every race,” said Davis.

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Identifying Discrimination Part V:

Moving ➡ BRAEDON

Forward

KWIECIEN, @BRAEDONJAMES

In an effort to better understand the challenges facing some minority students at University of Oregon, the Emerald interviewed students of color and faculty who have devoted their careers to addressing diversity and inclusion. Some students have used their experiences to reflect on their own biases and have taken steps to change their own behavior. Some students on campus have challenged their instructors on issues around race. This is the fifth part of a series coming out this week examining the role of discrimination at UO. The last installment highlighted the the way privelege affects students at UO as well as student advice to alleviate discrimination, but this article focuses on the actions being taken to help by administration.

V

ickie Gimm, president of University of Oregon’s Multi-ethnic Student Alliance, says the only way to make progress around the topic of racial discrimination at UO is to actively be anti-racist. “We live in a society that was built off of genocide of indigenous people, enslavement of Black bodies, exploitation of groups all around,” Gimm said. “Racism is ingrained in our society.” At the University of Oregon, white professors comprise 83 percent of tenure-related faculty, with the next largest group being Asian professors, who comprise 9 percent. Black faculty comprise 1 percent. UO President Michael Schill said that creating a more inclusive campus for minority students, who comprise 25.3 percent of the student body, is one of his top priorities. “We have work to do in our society and there is no reason to believe that work doesn’t also have to be done in educational institutions,” he said during an informal meeting with the Emerald in December 2016. “And, indeed, because educational institutions are the vanguard of change in our society, you would expect that this is where a lot of the activity takes place.” UO administrators and students alike are working to address systemic discrimination in a variety of ways. Ethnic studies major Aleiya Evison attributes the majority white

demographics to the fact that UO is a historically white university in a historically white state. Oregon state laws once called for Black people to be beaten every six months. She says this context of the university and state’s history is not being taught to enough students. Acknowledging that history is something Evison says could be a step toward changing the problems of systemic racism at UO. Last year, the Black Student Task Force issued 12 demands to UO’s administration with one of them being to dename Deady Hall, whose namesake’s history had a racist past. The message students of color on campus receive by having this building’s name remain on campus is that the history of discrimination remains as well. Another one of the task force’s demands was to have Ethnic Studies 101 become a graduation requirement for all students. As an ethnic studies major, Evison said that taking these classes is a great way to learn about diversity. “Sitting in an ethnic studies classroom where so many different races and ethnicities are represented in one room is invaluable for my education,” she said. “It benefits students of color and white students to be in an educational space where they are getting different perspectives and the norm is being challenged.” Ethnic studies professor Daniel Hosang said a majority of UO stu-

Daniel Hosang Ethnic studies profesor. (Christopher Trotchie)

Eric Girvan law professor who teaches implicit bias workshops. (Christopher Trotchie)

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We have work to do in our society and there is no reason to believe that work doesn’t also have to be done in educational institutions.” dents will go through their college careers without being taught by Black faculty. When students only ever learn from people who identify as white, he said, the experience may be training their subconscious to believe they have nothing valuable to learn from a person of color. When Hosang had to leave class for a day, he had one of the graduate teaching faculty give the day’s lecture. Hosang returned to find that students had talked over her, ignored her and didn’t listen. Another GTF corroborated that it didn’t seem like the class was unfocused because it was a substitute, rather it seemed like they were openly defying her. She felt that because she is a woman of color, the students thought they could disregard her authority. Hosang said it’s difficult to prove discriminatory intent, but that the hurtful experience for the GTF and the general acceptance of the students’ actions is a reality on campus. Hosang said that “because we live in a very racialized, segregated and sometimes patriarchal world, we have to think about big picture forces.” Those forces being the policies and structures that historically segregated the U.S. such as Jim Crow laws. The effects of bigoted philosophies in U.S. history remain today, but UO faculty such as law professor Erik Girvan work to create new norms. “We as a society have decided that certain characteristics ought not to be included in certain decisions,” Girvan said. “Your race should not affect whether you get a job or how you are graded on an exam.” Girvan facilitates implicit bias trainings for faculty hiring groups at UO to help prevent them from having bias influence the outcome of their decisions. In his own classes, he uses randomized numbers on students’ exams so that graders can’t be influenced by the gender or

MICHAEL SCHILL University of Oregon President

race they may associate with a person’s name. Despite Grivan’s efforts, administrators don’t think a large enough impact has made it to campus yet. Abe Schafermeyer, director of international student and scholar services, said that, “There are issues here. And we know it and we can see it. And we see it play out in different ways.” He referred to examples when a student thought they received a “C” because the professor doesn’t like people who can’t speak English well. “I think there’s a general consensus that this campus needs to have more dialogue surrounding inclusion and diversity,” Schafermeyer said. Since president Schill introduced a plan to the deans of schools at UO to progress inclusivity and diversity on campus, Schafermeyer and his department have come up with concrete ideas to move forward. One of Schafermeyer’s plans is to create an international student liaison position at UO. This will be a paid position to work with international students and then tell administration what the student experience is actually like. He hopes to gain a better understanding of how comfortable students feel and what obstacles they face. “As leaders, as front line staff and faculty that interact with students every day, we need to think deeply about what our roles and responsibilities are individually and what we’re doing to impact this conversation,” Schafermeyer said. Schafermeyer is one of nine deans at UO tasked to help create a more inclusive campus. Schafermeyer hopes that their plans can bring drastic change to the student and faculty experience at UO, but regardless of their outcome, he believes one thing to be true: “The status quo isn’t an option.” Anna Lieberman contributed reporting to this article.

President of the Multi-ethnic Student Alliance Vickie Gimm. (Christopher Trotchie)

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Winter art exhibitions to explore around Oregon ➥ FRANKLIN

LEWIS, @FLEWIS_1

Many new exhibitions will open at local museums in Oregon this year, ranging from historic French bronze sculptures to paintings inspired by the Qur’an. Whether you’re looking for inspiration, trying to impress an artsy friend or are attempting to live up to your New Year’s resolution to be more cultured, the Emerald has a breakdown of art exhibits to catch at three in-state museums.

Portland Art Museum (Portland; 1219 SW Park Ave.) One of the new exhibitions for 2017 at the Portland Art Museum is “Rodin: The Human Experienceâ€? (Jan. 21-Apr. 16). One of the most heralded minds in art, Auguste Rodin (1840-1917) is known best for his bronze sculptures. Much of his work focuses on realism and the human form — rare for his time period as other artists were concerned with idealized mythology or historical events. On display in “Rodin: The Human Experienceâ€? are studies from The Burghers of Calais and The Gates of Hell, two of his better-known works. The exhibition features some of Rodin’s renowned portraiture, including depictions of the writers Victor Hugo and HonorĂŠ de Balzac, the composer Gustav Mahler and the artist Claude Lorraine. “There is no substitute for seeing these works in person to understand the fascination with the expression and movement of the human figure that made Auguste Rodin the first truly modern sculptor,â€? said Brian Ferriso, the Portland Art Museum’s Director and Chief Curator.

Another imminent Portland Art Museum exhibit is “Constructing Identity� (Jan. 29-Jun. 18). This exhibit combines creations from contemporary African-American artists and historical pieces from the 1930s through the Civil Rights era. Artists featured include Henry Ossawa Tanner, a widely respected painter from the 19th and 20th century; Elizabeth Catlett, printmaker and sculptor who broke through numerous barriers for female AfricanAmerican artists in the 20th century; and Romare Bearden, whose collages of African-American life in the 1960s helped popularize collage as an art form. “Along with Constructing Identity, we’re celebrating African-American art through public programs including artist conversations, jazz, poetry, film and more,� Ferriso said. “We are exploring the power of art making to shape how African Americans both see themselves and are seen by the world.�

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Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art (Eugene; UO campus) The JSMA is featuring a timely show tackling the relationship between American culture and Islam. “Sandow Birk: American Qur’an� (Jan. 21-Mar. 19) is a decade-long project by Sandow Birk of his individual gouache paintings of text from the Qur’an in elaborate script. Drawing from his Southern California base, Birk uses a style of script based on Los Angeles graffiti tags. He juxtaposes these passages in front of scenes from contemporary American life, representing the connections between lessons found in Islam’s Holy Book and American culture. The exhibition

displays approximately 200 ink and gouaches paintings and is accompanied by a 400-page book. “Through his scholarly research and travel to countries with significant Muslim populations Sandow Birk gained an appreciation of the richness and diversity of Islam and its practice today,� said Jill Hartz, JSMA executive director and in-house curator of the exhibition in a press release. “He then conceived of this project, which aims to build a bridge or dialog between Islam and American life for the purpose of appreciating our shared humanity.�

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MORE AT DAILYEMERALD.COM

Jeff Sessions. (Creative Commons)

Integrity stops with Jeff Sessions Since President-Elect Trump nominated Jeff Sessions for Attorney General, serious fears have risen about Sessions’ stated policies and history of questionable judgment. These concerns led to direct non-violent action by protestors at Sessions’ Alabama office, which resulted in six arrests, including the arrest of the National President of the NAACP, Cornell William Brooks. In a statement posted on the NAACP website, Brooks summed up the reasons his organization is opposing Sessions: “A record on voting rights that is unreliable at best and hostile at worst; a failing record on other civil rights; a record of racially offensive remarks and behavior; and dismal record on criminal justice reform issues.� During the ongoing confirmation hearings for Sessions, congressmen, including civil rights leader John Lewis and Senator Cory Booker, have spoken up against the Alabama senator. Both acknowledged working with Sessions before, but questioned his judgment and commitment to serving all the people of our country. In an impassioned speech, during which he appeared to be on the brink of tears, Booker said, “Senator Sessions has not demonstrated the commitment to a central requisite of the job: to aggressively pursue the congressional mandate of civil rights, equal rights and justice for all of our citizens.� During Lewis’ testimony, the civil rights icon said, “We need someone as Attorney General who will stand up for all of us and not just some of us.� Despite damning testimony and a previous rejection of Sessions for a federal judgeship in 1986 over claims of racism, Sessions and his colleagues have consistently maintained that he is not a racist and has been a champion of civil rights. Over 1,400 law faculty nationwide, including 14 UO Law faculty members, have sided with Lewis,

Booker and the other civil rights groups to call on the U.S. Senate to reject his nomination. In the petition, which appeared in the Washington Post, legal faculty nationwide called on the Senate to reject Sessions because of his history of racist statements, hardline stances on immigration, misleading statements on voter fraud, history of supporting voter suppression, unsubstantiated claims of widespread voter fraud, support for prosecuting minor drug offenders and connections with fossil fuel industry interests. The petition “primarily used social media, and the word spread very rapidly. More than 1000 law professors signed on within the first 72 hours,� according to petition organizer and UC Berkeley Law faculty Ty Alper. The law professors’ petition concluded with this statement, “As law faculty who work every day to better understand the law and teach it to our students, we are convinced that Jeff Sessions will not fairly enforce our nation’s laws and promote justice and equality in the United States. We urge you to reject his nomination.� Despite the widespread outcry over Sessions’ questionable record and the signing of the petition by some UO Law faculty, the outrage over Sessions has paled in comparison to the fervor and passion with which Nancy Shurtz was met for her tasteless and offensive Halloween use of blackface. While I am in no way condoning her behavior, which she claims was actually part of an awfully executed anti-racism message, it is troubling that her misguided Halloween costume was cause for such campus wide outrage while the nomination of Sessions has been met with a handful of signatures and not much else. Defending our campus community and ultimately our country from the spread of racism, anti-LGBTQIA+ rhetoric, hateful proposals targeted at Muslims and immigrants, and policies

that negatively affect women needs to move beyond flashpoint issues like Shurtz. Fighting these messages of hate and division should be a priority of all community members who value inclusion and diversity, but so far we have fallen flat on the issue of the Sessions nomination. How can we square our commitment to these principles with our reluctance to speak out publicly when these civil rights issues arise? Why does a professor’s offensive costume warrant a campus wide response and a public call for resignation from 23 law faculty members and the appointment of Sessions to the highest law enforcement position in the land only gain 14 signatures? These questions do not have easy answers but they must become part of our dialogue. I was surprised in the development of this article that none of the law professors I spoke to or emailed with were willing to comment for this story. With the ascendancy of Trump, who has sailed a rising tide of white nationalism in social media and popular culture, the time is now to go beyond addressing local problems and engage with these larger institutional manifestations of racism and intolerance. We can’t only get excited about the headline grabbing stories like the Shurtz story. The time is now to stand our ground and continue the fight for equality for all people and push back the waves of injustice, even when it doesn’t mean grabbing headlines and supporting popular causes. As Booker said in his Senate testimony, “The arc of the moral universe does not just naturally curve toward justice; we must bend it.� BY CARL SEGERSTROM

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01/13/17 Emerald Media - Friday Edition