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It's the UO trickle-down effect

Good or bad, we have the `trickle-down effect' from the University of Oregon in our community.

I first heard this phrase many years ago from Ralph Barnhard, then a UO chemistry professor. He was saying that good research and a good graduate program made the undergraduate program better, and that a strong undergraduate program made the high school experience in Eugene better. I saw the effect the strong chemistry program at Oregon had in my own classrooms at Sheldon and at South Eugene high schools.

I now know that effect isn't only seen in the classroom, but also in the community at large and particularly at Mac Court. When the opposing college basketball teams are introduced at Mac Court, the students in the student section turn their backs. This sets a tone that rude or disrespectful behavior is OK at Mac Court. This certainly played out in the recent high school basketball tournament at Mac Court. The racist behavior toward the Roosevelt High School students and staff was hurtful and archaic.

I would challenge UO's new athletic director, Pat Kilkenny, to have the students discontinue this rude behavior of turning their backs and show their support for the Ducks in a more sportsmanlike matter. In the meantime, as a community we need to seize every opportunity to educate our young people about what is humane and polite behavior. Hopefully, we will be able to give a gracious welcome to the athletes who come to participate in the 2008 Olympic tryouts.



Hold all students accountable

As an immigrant to the United States and being neither black nor white, I believe I can add a bit of sanity to this issue.

It seems that the officials of the Eugene School District and the city are falling all over themselves to catch a racist. I hope in their hunt for the bigots they keep an open mind, because just maybe the racial insults went both ways.

If it is found that racial insults were thrown by both black and white students, then all students should face the appropriate consequences. This would only be fair - but I doubt the local officials have the courage to conduct a full and comprehensive investigation for fear of being called racist themselves.



Eugene worse than Mississippi

Portland recently got a taste of the Eugene that many of us have lived in every day. No, Eugene is not Mississippi in 1960. It is much worse.

Eugene is a community in such deep denial that anyone who questions the status quo learns to shut up, leave town or live a lie. Several years ago I was fired from a nonprofit organization in Eugene. In response, I filed a Bureau of Labor and Industries complaint arguing that my firing was in part retaliation for pointing out the inconsistencies in how the organization treated the Latinas and their children and the English-speaking non-Latinas.

I received a letter from the managing director about how the agency was going to address my concerns. That was almost five years ago. None of those issues has been addressed. In fact, the agency simply stopped serving the Latina community.

So no, many of us are not surprised by what happened at the state high school basketball championships. We are just amazed that the United Way, the churches and the school districts have sat back year in and year out and funded, praised, and spun into gold the dirty world of institutional racism in Eugene.

Welcome to Eugene, Portland, from those of us who live here in shame but work a bit each day to chip away at the mountain. The rest do not have any idea what we are talking about - and do not care anyway.



Eugene shouldn't be surprised

If the community tolerates, if not condones, boorish and disrespectful behavior by sports fans at high school and college events, why are we so surprised when it escalates to racist taunts?

If we snicker at fans teasing opposing players because of their size or national origin, why do we think student fans will stop there? If the University of Oregon athletic director participates with the Pit Crew in turning their backs to the opposing team, what lessons are we teaching our youth about sportsmanship and how we should treat each other?

Sportsmanship didn't seem to be a concept embraced by students we observed driving to the North Eugene vs. Corvallis basketball game. As they yelled and screamed out the windows of the truck they were in, one of the passengers waved a large hand-scrawled cardboard sign that read "Go Highlanders" on one side and ``F--- Corvallis'' on the other.



Taunting in eye of the beholder

I was extremely upset by the report of complaints involving "racial slurs and taunts" after the Churchill-Roosevelt high school playoff game at Mac Court.

My wife and I both attended the game, which was played with a high degree of sportsmanship and respect by both teams. Not only did we talk to the Roosevelt rally squad members after the game, wishing them luck in the rest of the playoffs, but we talked to several of the visiting parents as well. We did not see or hear any taunts, jeers or examples of poor sportsmanship from the Churchill students or parents during or after the game.

What we did see was a large group of Roosevelt students clustered on the sidewalk outside Mac Court, shouting taunts and jeers at the passing buses of other high schools, including phrases like, "See ya, losers!" and "Buh-bye, see ya next time," as well as other less printable phrases.

I guess taunting and poor sportsmanship are in the eye of the beholder. I am saddened by these claims, as they sully an otherwise wonderful high school basketball experience.



Hillside was never distinctive

The handwriting has been on the wall for Hillside Alternative School for anyone to see. Its program was never distinctive, and it has not been viable for years.

It would have been far more respectful if the Eugene School District leadership had simply been honest with this school community before it went through all of the pain and the work. The district's process exacerbated the pain.

Why is a merger between Adams Elementary and Hillside considered unfeasible? Not because of any difference in programs. Hillside thinks of itself as special and superior. And members of its community regularly communicate this attitude to the Adams community. Members of the Adams community resent this.

Approximately 60 students at Hillside come from the Adams neighborhood. Perhaps when the air clears, some members of the Hillside community will approach the Adams community to see if something could be worked out that would truly benefit the region. The alternative is to let the district leadership decide what will happen to your children.

Family and Eastside communities might note that the district will be establishing an enrollment minimum of 250 students for elementary schools - a standard those schools fail to meet by well over 100 students. Further, the district knows that co-location of two alternative schools also doesn't work. And if the district decides to close any neighborhood schools but seeks to continue the far-too-small elitist schools, three guesses what will happen.



Give veterans care they deserve

When I graduated from medical school in 1963 it was clear to me, even then, that the Veterans Administration health care system was seriously broken.

Movies like "Coming Home" and "Born on the Fourth of July" long ago documented and brought to public awareness the shameful way we Americans treat our veterans. Most doctors that I know have very low opinions of VA hospitals and care. Even those VA hospitals associated with medical schools often provide less than good care.

Having worked in VA hospitals during my training, I can personally attest to the inadequacy of VA medicine. It is riddled with administrative and bureaucratic nightmares. The problem is not new. The new mess at Walter Reed Hospital and the VA hospitals has been going on for a long time.

What can be done? First, get our troops out of harm's way. The fewer wounded veterans, the fewer men and women we need to care for.

Second, protect our troops properly. It is unconscionable to be sending our troops into combat with less then the best protection we have to offer.

Third, give veterans and active duty military access to mainstream medical care. They deserve as much as your local congressman or postal worker. If we can't give them the same level of insurance, then at least give them all Tricare so that they can access the private system.

It is time to scrap this shameful VA program and give our troops and veterans the health care they deserve.



The Register-Guard welcomes letters on topics of general interest. Our length limit is 250 words; all letters are subject to condensation. Writers are limited to one letter per calendar month. Because of the volume, not all letters can be printed.

Mail letters to: Mailbag, P.O. Box 10188, Eugene, OR 97440-2188

Fax: 338-2828

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Title Annotation:Letters
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Article Type:Letter to the editor
Date:Mar 20, 2007
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