Oregon State’s Double Standard for Vandalism

By on November 17, 2005

Earlier this month, Samantha reported that 2005 FIRE summer intern Luke Sheahan has been shining some much-needed sunlight on newspaper theft at Oregon State University. Luke is a student there and runs a student publication called The Liberty, hundreds of copies of which continue to be stolen—as if the theft of a distribution bin wasn’t enough.
 
Given all of this, Luke wrote to OSU’s president with a very simple request: publicly condemn the vandals. The response? Nothing. So Luke also met with several other figures on campus—so far, to no avail. Of course, all of this might be understandable if OSU simply does not believe in issuing public denunciations of vandals. That would be an unwise policy, but at least it would be consistent.
 
Alas, no. Last fall, when signs supporting a statewide ban on gay marriage were taped to OSU’s Pride Center, administrator Terryl J. Ross sent the following denunciation to every student on campus:
Recently, the OSU Pride Center was the subject of a form of vandalism.
 
Oregon State University has traditionally been a place to explore new ideas, to learn about differences, and to realize that we live in a fascinating and diverse community. As Director of Community and Diversity at OSU, I know I speak for myself, and many in our community, in expressing disappointment that a dedicated area of our campus intended to support student views and perspectives, became a place to negatively express feelings opposed to what the Center represents. We cannot tolerate such actions and need to express my dismay that these actions occurred at an enlightened institution of higher learning such as OSU.
 
We are in dialogue with OSU Public Safety and the State Police about this incident. We will continue to seek out the individuals responsible for the damage. We have also tasked some people to develop campus-wide “critical incidents” procedures so that we can adequately deal with such occurrences in the future.
 
We will also seek ways to continue nurturing the celebration of differences at OSU and to move forward in creating an environment of tolerance and understanding. We ask that you support us in our commitment to ensuring that OSU is a safe and inclusive campus for all.
Luke has also pointed out that OSU took no action when 2000 crosses were stolen the night before the College Republicans were to place them on the quad in protest of Roe v. Wade. Why is it, then, that OSU apparently only condemns some vandals?
 
Luke Sheahan is still waiting for an answer.

Schools: Oregon State University