Students disrupt Oregon 'State of the University' address - KPTV - FOX 12

Students disrupt Oregon 'State of the University' address

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EUGENE, OR (KPTV) -

University of Oregon President Michael H. Schill planned on giving a “State of the University” address Friday but was stopped before he could even take the stage.

Dozens of student protesters rushed onto the stage, taking the spotlight and chanting, “Nothing about us without us!”

The students said they were protesting several issues, including white supremacy propaganda on campus and tuition hikes.

The university is now deciding whether or not their actions are a violation of the student code of conduct, but the students said they just want to be heard.

"I cannot think of any valid reason that someone who calls himself a president would not listen to the outrage of their constituents," student Charlie Landeros said.

University officials noted their support of free speech but noted that does not give people the right to prevent others from speaking.

"It's unfortunate that it gets to the point where it actually drowns out the speech of others and makes it where we can't actually conduct the business of the university," University Senior Director of Public Affairs Communications Tobin Klinger said.

The university released a video of Schill's address after the protest that was pre-recorded in advance after officials saw chatter about the planned protest on social media.

It was accompanied by a statement from Schill outlining his thoughts on the disruption.

I strongly value free speech and academic freedom. I had already planned to talk about these issues prior to today’s happenings, because freedom of expression is a pressing issue, and I feel strongly about our need to foster robust debate and discussion. It is essential to our mission as a university. I respect protesters’ rights to share their views, but I do not agree in shutting down another person's right to speak.

The vast majority of our students understand the value of free speech. Indeed, they understand that the reason many of the protesters today are at our institution is because of the courageous speech of others throughout the years. They also understand that the right way to express their views is not to stop others from expressing their views. I am saddened that the protesters have displayed a disdain for one of the core values of our academy, our democracy, and our history.

I come away from today’s experience with a new energy and determination to teach all of our students and members of the community the value of free speech and tolerance.  In my speech, which I hope you will watch, I announced a year-long series of lectures and panels about the role of free speech and robust debate in the university. Each of our schools and colleges will participate and a wide variety of voices, interests, and views will be represented. It is only through more speech and robust debate that we will heal the differences in our society, not by shouting down those who seek to speak.

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