University Of Oregon Students ‘Exercise Free Speech’ By Shouting Down University President
Students at the University of Oregon in Eugene shut down a speech by university president Michael Schill last Friday, who was set to deliver a speech about a $50 million donation gifted to the school.
Shortly before he could take the stage, students bearing feminist t-shirts and signs that read “CEO SCHILL” and “TAKE BACK OUR CAMPUS” stormed the stage to protest the Schill.
According to The Oregonian, the students didn’t have a cohesive message, but chanted “Nothing about us without us,” implying that they wanted to have a larger say in the school’s administrative direction and the decisions it made. The protesters complained about neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other social justice issues.
Beyond social justice issues, the protesters had myriad complaints, with many yelling their concerns over tuition costs. The student leader, Charlie Landeros, repeatedly referred to the school president as “CEO Schill.”
In a video of the incident, Landeros can be seen speaking using a bullhorn, demanding a voice for students whom he says were not being heard by university administrators.
“Over the summer there has been a huge proliferation of neo-Nazi propaganda plastered all over campus,” Landeros said.
He added that the school’s inaction against hate speech could lead to violent crime. “We’re here to stand against that.”
Landeros also claimed that the university belongs to the students because they pay tuition.
The loud group of protesters forced Schill to walk out of the auditorium as he wasn’t allowed to speak. Schill later said in a video address that while he supported the right to free speech, he did not support protesters who impede other people’s free speech rights.
“The students are here exercising their right to free speech,” university spokesman Tobin Klinger told The Oregonian. “It’s unfortunate that the demonstration got to the point where it actually violated university policy in terms of demonstrations that hinder the university’s ability to do its work and function — and this was a formal function.”
The scene was not unlike the protest that shut down Virginia Tech’s State of the University speech last week, which was disrupted by student protesters who accused the university of employing a graduate accused of being a white supremacist. Also last week, students at William & Mary crashed a free speech event by the ACLU, where they referred to free speech as a form of “white supremacy.”
Ian Miles Cheong is a journalist and outspoken media critic. You can reach him through social media at @stillgray on Twitter and on Facebook.