Oregon University Acknowledge Racial Tensions

Black Issues in Higher Education, July 8, 1999 | Go to article overview

Oregon University Acknowledge Racial Tensions


PORTLAND, Ore. - Racial tensions at Oregon's two largest universities have resulted from long-standing frustration, and some students and faculty say school officials do not understand the root causes of the problem. As the school year drew to a close, both campuses experienced race-related unrest.

"As much as we're seen as a liberal, activist campus, we're in a state of denial on minority issues," says Missy Rock, a student arrested during a recent anti-racism sit-in at the University of Oregon (UO) in Eugene. "Until we acted, there wasn't a lot of dialogue around these issues, so we'll keep pushing."

An ongoing classroom discussion that apparently got out of hand sparked the May 18 sit-in at UO, at which 31 people were arrested. A student made what others felt was a disparaging comment about Latinos, fueling an angry e-mail debate.

At OSU, a pair of fraternity members stand accused of yelling a racial epithet and throwing firecrackers near a passing Black student on May 1. The same student was, as a freshman three years ago, the target of racial harassment in an incident that led to a campus demonstration and university reforms (see Black Issues, May 27, 1999).

Oregon's campuses are gradually becoming more diverse and, most people agree, more tolerant. …

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