Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Taking Academic Space.

Friday, March 18, dozens of University of Oregon students conducted a teach-in on education accessibility in the John E. Jaqua building, the only academic center on campus that intentionally excluded the majority of UO students. Aside from the ground floor cafe, access to the Jaqua building and its state-of-the-art educational facilities was explicitly prohibited for 22,869 students.

“We desire academic freedom and inclusivity--the privilege to study and engage in an educational experience together,” says Cimmeron Gillespie, a UO senior in political science. “We want to see an inclusive campus which does not segregate its facilities based on student classification, but offers an equal academic opportunity for all students.”

“By denying access, non-athletic department students are being treated as second class citizens on our own campus,” says Jon Long, a UO undergraduate. “It is a disappointment that Athletic Department-funded students privileges are not provided to all students.”

After entering the space the students were informed that the building was now open to all students and community. "This is a space that's open to the public, it;s open to students and we need to do a better job of letting people know that" the University spokesman Phil Wheeler said.

The Jaqua Center's former policy of physically separating students and academic resources based on athletic ability is a violation of the University of Oregon’s stated mission, which boasts its "dedication to the principles of equality of opportunity and freedom from unfair discrimination for all members of the university community". The Jaqua building policies also violates the Athletic Department's mission of developing "a showcase for equality of opportunity.”

While the policy may be changed, the sign still rests above the staircase to the second floor stating that the second floor is for "authorized personnel only". Despite the words still hanging by the steps, the space is now open.

The teach-in challenged the Jaqua facility’s policy by convening on the restricted second floor. This was an opportunity to convene an academic gathering on campus in a publicly owned building. Dozens of determined and disaffected students will demonstrated against the injustice of the policy on the ground floor.

Universities across the country have been regularly restricting academic spaces in a larger move towards privitization, both academic and athletic spaces have often been divided. This devision highlights privilege and access in society. When many students are withheld from the vast spaces of the best equipment and services of society, while small minorities are held above, by physical separation and restrictive services- this is not only hierarchical but oppressive. Requiring the breaking of the cycles of restriction, to generate a fair academic playing field.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Glad to see it. The $port$ $ituation w "Uncle Phil" is out of hand-- they build a 12,000 person sports arena & no parking, also a special jock dedicated parking area for the special dedicated athlete only student study building? They took much needed parking spaces to put in this exclusive study building.
As if Uncle Phil could not afford to build a memorial parking garage!

Total bullshit. The students have to say they won't take it in order for it to change.

On another note, listening to *some* student jocks interviewed on the news, sounds like the U of O has given up on academics altogether.