Final: EMU referendum to start before RBI explanation

Final update: Not until Hubin gives the Commentator the emails showing who gave Robin Holmes the go ahead to hire the RBI consultants and what their orders were.

11/16/2012 6PM: The ODE now reports that the referendum passed with 54% of ~4,000 votes. The ends justify the means?

11/16/2012: Ian Campbell of the ODE reports that someone sent students an email, purportedly from the ASUO, advising students to vote against the referendum:
The email — sent from asuonewsletter@gmail.com — encourages students to vote No, citing as talking points “limited student input” and the use of a “shady political consultant.”

Meanwhile Dave Hubin has still not given the Commentator the emails explaining just how that shady political consultant got hired.

11/15/2012 update: The Commentator reports that a student has now filed a grievance with ASUO about this referendum, arguing that it was not set up by the proper elections committee.

11/14/2012 update: The EMU people have been asking faculty to use class time to let them make a spiel about the renovation referendum. If anyone has let them do this, I’d be interested in hearing what was in the pitch:

Subject: EMU Referendum Educational Campaign 

Dear Professor X, 

My name is [] and I am an intern with the ASUO. This week, November 12th-15th, we are running an educational campaign about the EMU referendum. We believe it is important that students get informed and vote! Our goal as an organization is NOT to tell students how to vote, we just want to get an accurate representation of the student body in this special election. I am contacting you today because we have volunteers that would like to give a class rap in your [] class [].
Please e-mail me back as soon as you can so I can contact our volunteers. Thank you so much for your time and consideration, we as a student body appreciate your involvement in issues we find important. 

Sincerely, []
Intern for ASUO University Affairs Commissioner

11/10/2012: My generation was taught elections were honest. So when Watergate happened it was seen as an outrage and people fought back. Oregon’s public records law, for example, came from Dave Frohnmayer’s efforts to clean up his Republican party’s reputation.

The UO students will have one last election on the EMU renovation, starting Monday. The decision is whether or not to buy a $90 million bond that will cost $207 per student per year for 30 years. The UO administration has still not explained how it happened that UO hired the RBI campaign consultants – with student EMU money – to attempt to manipulate students into voting for this. The basics of this story are only known because some courageous students forwarded documents to this blog and to reporters. Yesterday they sent me a tip that new funny business may be going on.

UO is teaching its students that elections are dishonest and that there’s nothing they can do about it. When the next challenge to democracy comes, they will just shrug and walk on. This is a disaster that’s certainly more important than whether or not this referendum passes. UO needs to come clean with the students about the RBI contract. I can think of three scenarios:

A) Robin Holmes decided on her own to hire RBI with EMU funds and didn’t tell her boss, Interim President Berdahl. 

B) The students decided on their own and without the knowledge of Holmes to hire RBI with their EMU funds. 

C) Berdahl (or perhaps Lariviere) told Robin Holmes to get the students to vote for the renovation, no matter what it took. 

Reporters haven’t been able to get a straight answer out of Holmes, but perhaps her emails show something. UO student Nick Ekblad – a reporter for the Commentator – asked Dave Hubin’s Public Records Office for these emails last week:
Pursuant to Oregon public records laws ORS 192.410 to 192.505, I write a third request, this one being a digital copy of all e-mail correspondence of rhholmes@uoregon.edu from September 1, 2011 to present containing any of the keywords: EMU, renovation, vote, RBI, strategy, strategies, referenda, referendum, campaign, election.

Stonewalling by the Nixon administration ensured that the 1972 McGovern-Nixon election occurred before Woodward and Bernstein were able to unravel the Watergate story. We’ll see if the UO administration provides these emails and an accurate explanation of their efforts to manipulate the outcome of the election, before the student vote starts on Monday.

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10 Responses to Final: EMU referendum to start before RBI explanation

  1. Anonymous says:

    The RBI thing was a crappy move, but I think you are being pedantic in demanding a “full explanation.” The explanation is that they wanted the referendum passed, and they hired a consultant to help them figure out how to do it. This is not a scandal. It was just a poorly calculated and politically stupid decision.

    This is another topic, but I am also tired of people claiming that hiring a PR firm is tantamount to manipulating or stealing an election. This gives insultingly little credit to the intelligence of the voters (i.e. student body) and de-legitimizes reasons they might have for voting (like a positive response to a slick ad campaign) that you don’t agree with.

    It’s one thing if the firm had a plan to disseminate patently false information or come up with schemes to disenfranchise people. But the firm was hired to spread the EMU’s preferred message in a really slick way. It may seem pretty gross and obviously a bad use of precious funds, but again, not a scandal.

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  2. UO Matters says:

    RBI is not a PR firm, they are campaign consultants. Follow the EMU link and read how they planned to manipulate the election by painting the student opponents as “politically active” etc. That will teach those students!

    Using taxpayer funds in this way to influence, say, a public school bond referendum would be illegal. OUS is requiring a positive vote by students before authorizing the renovation bond sale. For technical reasons UO can probably get away with this, but it is for damn sure a scandal and the fact that they are proceeding with the vote before explaining how it happened is for damn sure a coverup.

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    • UO Matters says:

      And for the record I am for the renovation. I also thought Nixon did some good things …

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    • Anonymous says:

      I guess I wonder what “cover up” you think will be revealed? This strikes me as melodramatic. Who is being “protected”? What “bombshells” do you expect? What other side can possibly exist to what we all know? Other than admitting that it was a poor decision and not a good use of funds, this hardly needs a select committee.

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  3. UO Matters says:

    My post is pretty clear on what I think might be in the emails that Diane Dietz and Nick Ekblad have been searching for. But maybe it’s all as you say. Lets find out – why don’t you put in a PR request too?

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  4. Anonymous says:

    The quibbler has gone off the medication again.

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  5. Anonymous says:

    I also have a request in place for all email communication between Robin Holmes and the various University Presidents between September 2011 and September 2012. So far I haven’t gotten a quote for the records.

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    • Anonymous says:

      ** All email communication on the subject of the EMU, that is.

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  6. Anonymous says:

    Looks like forward progress on this is going to come to a screeching halt as we argue about who did what. What a shame.

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  7. Unknown says:

    To the blogger’s request about the ASUO in-class spiel:

    A fellow classmate made a quick announcement yesterday to vote on Duckweb. It was obvious she was pro-renovation because of her “facts.” She said it would only cost students $69 a term, that the EMU was $12 million or so behind in upkeep/ renovation, and that it was over capacity (meaning it could hold 18,000 students, and we now have 25,000). Not sure whether she was right or not, but voted no anyway.

    ~Undergrad

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