Questioning the UO administration
A collective of student protestors referring to themselves as the People’s Council met with President Schill recently after occupying Johnson Hall. Now thanks to Double Sided Media, we have the full audio of the meeting between the activists and Schill, with Vice President of Student Life Kevin Marbury also joining. The meeting going over their three demands: divest from fossil fuels, democratize the board of trustees, and disarm the UOPD.
For much of the meeting Schill and Marbury refused to take any ownership and said that it was a matter they had no control over. When it came to divesting Schill said the UO Foundation, which makes the investments is a separate entity which he has no say over. Members of the People’s Council retorted that he could make a public statement asking the foundation to follow through on the issue in divesting as Schill has said saving the climate is priority. He would not commit.
The UO foundation gave a report to the Board of Trustees last week as well where they responded, partially to the calls for divestment from fossil fuels. Paul Weinhold said the foundation had previously made an agreement to make no new investments in fossil fuels and since then there stake in fossil fuels has significantly minimized. However he did not reveal the actual current size of the investments in fossil fuels and said it is going away, no firm commitment to fully divest.
One area Schill was committed to in the meeting, was keeping the police force at the University of Oregon armed. When an activist brought up the shooting and killing of Jason Washington by PSU officers, Schill said it was a tragedy and the UO would do whatever it can to prevent it happening at UO. But said it was necessary for cops to be armed to stop violent crimes at the UO.
Another common response from Schill and Marbury is that the UO is no different than other universities. For instance Schill said it is uncommon to have a democratically elected board for universities and that his pay is the median for university executive pay. Graduate employees and avid labor watchers may recognize this comparative tactic, as the administration tried to utilize it to cut GEs healthcare, saying they comparatively have cushy healthcare (ultimately the university failed in the attempt).
At the end in an open dialogue portion, an activist brought up the inaccessibility of Board of Trustees meetings for fellow students. Particularly calling out the Board of Trustees holding a meeting soon after COVID restrictions went into place. Also bringing up how Chuck Lillis shoved a student before the meeting. Schill did not respond to the procedural accusations, saying the student is only upset with the outcome. Adding that he believes Chuck Lillis is a good person.
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