Introduction: During the winter of 2010, the University of Oregon sustained a grievous act of discrimination. What happened? A giant swastika was spray painted across the floor of the LGBTQA building (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered and Questioning Alliance). This triggered campus-wide concern about their safety and acts of hate. Read this interview with Lauren Short to discover what the students of this school are going to do to help end the school year on a positive note.
Interview Question: Could you describe for our readers what connection you have to the University of Oregon?
Lauren’s Response: We are a team of students who are involved in various groups and organizations on campus.
Interview Question: What is the population of the University of Oregon?
Lauren’s Response: Over 22,000. We have a 45% out of state/country enrollment and only continue to grow.
Interview Question: When specifically was the painting of the swastika discovered and by who?
Lauren’s Response: It was found Feb. 1 morning by the Lesbian, Gay, Transgender, and Questioning Alliance. The televisions and computers were also vandalized by black spray paint.
Interview Question: What was the immediate response by campus security, the school officials, the police, and the community?
Lauren’s Response: The Associated Students of the University of Oregon immediately offered the LGBTQA its full support. A week’s worth of events took place to help bring comfort to those who were victimized. Candlelight vigils and campus marches took place to let those who caused this hurt know that the community was still strong and didn’t tolerate such behavior.
Interview Question: How did the students of the University of Oregon respond?
Lauren’s Response: Overwhelming support came from the student body by attending these events and reaching out to the LGBTQA community through the media and causal interactions.
Interview Question: Did anybody discover who was responsible for spray painting that swastika? If so, were there consequences for this act of hate?
Lauren’s Response: It is unknown as to who committed that act.
Interview Question: Are there any known hate groups in the area?
Lauren’s Response: Yes. A group of neo-nazis known and the Pacifica Forum had much attention brought upon them directly before this act took place after it made threats and racial remarks towards certain individuals on campus because of their gender and ethnic background.
Interview Question: What is your theory about why this person or group chose this particular time to target the LGBTQA building? What do you think the guilty party hoped to accomplish?
Lauren’s Response: I don’t necessarily believe that the Pacifica Forum is to blame for this act. I do believe that sadly there are people out there who have this sort of hatred towards others and see that acting in this manner is an appropriate form of dealing with it. I think the guilty party hoped to intimidate these students to make them feel threatened and as if they don’t have a place at the University. However, Oregon is far too supportive of diversity and the free expression of others that this form of dark expression is not accepted at all.
Interview Question: In your first e-mail to me, you stated: “I am contacting you because I am working with a group of students at the University of Oregon that is working towards a community concert. We are a group of students from the University of Oregon hoping to create positive change on our campus as a response to an act of discrimination that threatened the freedom of expression that defines our school.” Can you tell us more about this group?
Lauren’s Response: We are a very diverse group of students coming for different educational, ethnic, and working backgrounds who share a common love for music and positive messages. We hope to give our peers something great to remember this year by. And most importantly, we want to see everyone dancing and celebrating diversity with us. We hope to create an impact on this school that can be reflected onto other universities as well. Our mission is to support others so they never feel alienated or displaced in a community, ever.
Interview Question: You also indicated that the aim of this community concert was: “We would like to support not only the LGBTQA community, but also all of those who have been discriminated against on our campus.” What other types of discrimination has happened at your campus?
Lauren’s Response: Discrimination exists everywhere without any particular event occurring with attention brought to it. People are continuously judged for the way they look, act, and what they believe in simply because it is different and foreign to others. Sadly, this is a problem that exists not only in our school, but nationally and internationally as well. We truly hope that others jump on board with us and help spread the message of unity and acceptance.
Interview Question: Please describe the plan to help heal this act of discrimination?
Lauren’s Response: To end the year on a positive note we would like to host an anti-discrimination celebration. Since the University of Oregon is a home to students and all the Eugene community, we would like to have the first ever “House Party” on the campus quad complete with music played by local dj’s and Mind The Gap, the co-ed acapella group.
Interview Question: Please give more details about this community concert.
Lauren’s Response: This would be a free concert on June 4th headlined by Adam Tensta, a Swedish artist known for his strong anti-discrimination stance that it is trendy among students. As a rapper, Tensta neither drinks nor smokes yet faces accusations against his character. Tensta won a Swedish Grammy for his 2007 album, It’s a Tensta Thing, and used his newfound fame to promote organizations, such as Alla Olika Alla Lika, a youth campaign against prejudice and discrimination in Sweden. We believe that his music carries positive messages that should be shared by all on our campus.
Interview Question: How are you managing to fund this community concert?
Lauren’s Response: We are currently asking companies to sponsor the event and give donations. So far for our concert, we have received positive feedback. We have the support from our student senate and multicultural groups on campus. Also, American Apparel has offered to donate $17,000-28,000 worth of merchandise to be distributed during the concert. Cumulus Media Inc. has donated airtime for us on multiple radio stations to help promote this event. We hope to receive similar responses from others as well.
Interview Question: What final message would you like to share with the students of the University of Oregon and the students of all the other college campuses around the country and the world?
Lauren’s Response: There is no reason to hate. Only through love and acceptance can we truly come together and create positive change. Always try to put yourself in another’s place. How would you feel if you were hated for the person you are? There are things about all of us that we have no control over. For that reason there we are all so similar.
Final comment from Interviewer: Thanks so much! I am so pleased to do my part to help your cause.
Epilogue: For more information about the Swedish rapper, Adam Tensta, please watch this YouTube Video:
YouTube Video – Adam Tensta – Artist of The Week