Undergraduate protesters disrupt fancypants Board of Trustees meeting

Administrator and coach salaries at the University of Oregon continue to grow at an astronomical pace (they currently make roughly 120% of peers').  At the same time, faculty and graduate student salaries have stagnated (making roughly 80% of peers'). At the same time, tuition for both in-state and out-of-state students keeps rising.  

Well, that's not really a fair way to put it: this process is not like a river or a tide rising, after all.  It's more correct to say that the lairds keep raising tuition to line their own pockets with lucre from the pockets of their feudal vassals.  This has gone on for a long time, with little opposition.  It's a bit like the case of the frog in the pot of boiling water.  Each increase ends up costing only a few bucks per student per term (or even per year), so they barely notice.  In the aggregate, though, a few bucks  from tens of thousands of people means a lot.

Some of the undergrads at the University of Oregon understand this, so when the Board of Trustees convened today for one of their quarterly meetings, they showed up in force.  Some spoke movingly during the public comment period about being forced by tuition increases to forego eating meals, buying required books, or even having housing.

(During the same public comment period, I spoke briefly about the value of transparency; Chuck Lillis seemed to remember who I was from my public comments back in December; he interrupted me to make a snide comment at one point.  Chuck and his handlers: if you're reading this, I'd be happy to speak with you privately; all of my previous attempts to communicate have been summarily ignored. The fact that it's impossible for constituents of this university to convey any message to you except during highly contentious public meetings is may a tiny bit your fault.) 

Chuck Lillis, a man who thinks it's socially acceptable to appear in public wearing a bowtie.

Chuck Lillis, a man who thinks it's socially acceptable to appear in public wearing a bowtie.

Lillis Model?

Lillis Model?

Many, many more students came with picket signs to shame the fat cats who say there's no money for more teachers, more researchers, more student support, and so on, while paying themselves and the coaches huge salaries and bonuses, and even using student tuition money to fund legal fees to defend against and countersue rape victims.  In other words, they'd had enough of the bullshit and were resorting to direct action.  

Two members of the Board of Trustees (Wilcox and Schlegel) supported the students; the rest went right ahead and raised tuition over 3.5%.

In response, the undergrads began chanting their demands.  They invaded the holy of holies: the area between the Trustees' tables.  They refused to stop, leading Chuck Lillis, the chair of the BoT and a part-time Santa impersonator, to call an emergency recess.

Turns out, one of the reasons the BoT voted to raise tuition is that they had been fed shite data by Brad Shelton and Jamie Moffitt. When this sort of thing happens, one always has to ask the question, "Stupid or evil?"  Fortunately, there are multiple potential answers, ranging from, "Stupid" to "Both, independently" to "Both, in a statistical interaction from the the depths of hell" to "Evil."  My best guess in this case is the third option, with most emphasis on the interaction effect.

I took a few grainy videos of the protest....

Kurt Wilcox, one of two decent people on the UO Board of Trustees

Kurt Wilcox, one of two decent people on the UO Board of Trustees

Helena Schlegel was not entirely pleased with the BoT vote to soak undergrads for more tuition money

Helena Schlegel was not entirely pleased with the BoT vote to soak undergrads for more tuition money

Scott Coltrane in his alter ego role as the Wizard of UOz, handing out diplomas and grades instead of brains and educations.

Scott Coltrane in his alter ego role as the Wizard of UOz, handing out diplomas and grades instead of brains and educations.

Coltrane Model?

Coltrane Model?

Brad Shelton.  No comment necessary.

Brad Shelton.  No comment necessary.

Shelton Model?

Shelton Model?

Jamie Moffitt, one of the architects of the tuition hike.  She repeatedly insisted that she didn't know how to do simple math when asked about alternatives to her arbitrary plan.  Somehow this was treated as a reason to go ahead with her plan.

Jamie Moffitt, one of the architects of the tuition hike.  She repeatedly insisted that she didn't know how to do simple math when asked about alternatives to her arbitrary plan.  Somehow this was treated as a reason to go ahead with her plan.

Moffitt Model?

Moffitt Model?