Bane of racism hits Oregon colleges

College Press Service

EUGENE, Ore. -- University of Oregon and Oregon State University students are fighting a recent ugly spate of racist incidents that have plagued both campuses.

At UO, in Eugene, a white supremacy group distributed racist pamphlets on campus, while OSU, in Corvallis, grappled with the alleged harassment of a black student by three other students.

While the incidents are unrelated, they prompted students to organize against bigotry.

More than 1,500 OSU students, faculty and staff members joined in a day-long boycott of university services and classes.

The March 13 protest took place the same day two white OSU students were indicted by a grand jury on charges of attempting to intimidate a black student.

Eric Hutchinson, 21, and another OSU student are accused of shouting racial epithets and trying to urinate on the black student. The white students reportedly were standing on a dormitory balcony as the black student tried to enter the building.

Earlier in the month, posters for a black OSU student government candidate were defaced with racial slurs, as were posters announcing the upcoming campus visit of Anita Hill.

In response, OSU black students called for a boycott of classes and organized a campus demonstration that attracted students of all races. Students marched silently across campus; some carried signs that read "Racist people suck" and "Unlearn mis-education."

"It's up to you to hold people accountable when you see acts of racism," junior Michael Johnson told a crowd of demonstrators gathered at OSU's quadrangle. Johnson was the candidate whose posters were defaced.

At UO, student leaders formed an anti-hate coalition after a white supremacy group calling itself the Aryan Pride distributed fliers that called the white race "Earth's most endangered species," and featured an unflattering caricature of an interracial couple. It was the fourth time this year that racial pamphlets have surfaced at UO, students said.

The fliers also lambasted Jews, interracial relationships and nonwhite immigrants.

"The death of the white race is neither far off nor imaginary in the distant future," the pamphlets read. "Keep it white, or our children will be outnumbered 50-to-1 by colored people, who have been inflamed to hatred of our people by the Jews' media."

Manya Shorr, director of the UO Jewish Student Union, said, "I'm really tired of these things happening every couple of months. I wanted to do something about it now. When you're silent, that's when (white supremacists) become strong."

UO's student meeting was marred by the presence of a man who claimed to be the president of Aryan Pride. He was reportedly wearing red shoelaces, a "Fighting Irish" baseball hat and a German Iron Cross ring, thought to be typical attire of Aryan Pride members.

Bill Washburn, UO community affairs coordinator and an organizer of the new coalition, told UO's Daily Emerald that the man identified himself when approached and said, "I'm the president of Aryan Pride."

Aryan Pride members also have been known to attend anti-bigotry meetings organized by community groups in the Eugene area. Washburn said the man did not make a strong impression on students at the meeting.

"We want to focus on the positive," Washburn said. "This is one bad apple who can throw us off onto a whole other tangent."

The UO coalition plans to focus its efforts on making other students aware that fliers were distributed on campus, and urging campus groups to voice their opposition to such incidents.

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