Anthony: The Willamette (Valley)Girls
It was a term I first heard while cashiering during the summer after my senior year of high school— U.C. Eugene. A current University of Oregon student came through my line, and I asked him if he liked it there because I was planning on attending in the fall. His response, “Yeah, I love it!” but then added, “Well, except for the whole ‘U.C. Eugene’ part.” I had no idea what that meant back then, but in the following year I quickly found out that it stands for “The University of California in Eugene,” and it’s a term many Californians use with glee and Oregonians take with a grimace and an eye roll.
California is one of the most high demand places to live in the world, meaning it can easily pull in out-of-state students, and with them out-of-state tuition rates. In an attempt to make more money through out-of-state tuition, California has been making it harder and harder for in-state students to get in to their own state colleges in recent years.
Insert: The University of Oregon. The admission requirements are much lower than many Californian four year colleges, making it a realistic option for many graduating seniors who didn’t quite make the extremely high cut off. It’s also a perfect distance for most Californians. Add onto that the liberal atmosphere and weather that most people enjoy, and you’ve got a dream school for many Californians.
With the massive amount of Californian students that only continue to increase at UO, the phrase “U.C. Eugene” is a way to say that the University of Oregon now belongs to California as much as it does to Oregon. Many Oregonians aren’t too fond of the phrase, but why do they hate it so much, and what kind of impact does it have on their lives?
Because UO out-of-state tuition rates are $35,000, a rate many in-state kids couldn’t even imagine paying, this naturally leads to many of the out-of-state students coming from wealthier backgrounds. Because of the higher average incomes and the student’s ability to pay, UO can charge a higher rate for things such as fees, parking permits, and dorms when compared to other state colleges like OSU. Many Oregonians see Californian students as the main reason why they have to pay more for these things.
Compared to Oregon State, which has a higher percentage of in-state students, UO’s mandatory fees are $120 dollars higher a term. Overnight parking passes are also $910 for a 10 month period, as opposed to OSU’s parking passes being anywhere from $372-$522. In addition, goods around or related to campus such as dorms, off campus housing, or even food also often see an increase.
In addition to the monetary differences, there is also often a culture gap, which can manifest itself in many different ways. One of these ways is through stereotypes, like in the case of one friend of mine, who says she “hates how like, the Oregonians here stereotype me as basic for being from SoCal and make fun of my valley girl accent.” On the flip side, another friend of mine said that he hates how “all the Californians here label me as country, even though I’m from Salem.”
A lot of these issues may stem from a place of classism rather than actual geography or state citizenship. I’ve overheard more than one middle class Oregonian mumble about the spoiled or entitled “Chad-y” Californians. Along with this, I’ve also heard my fair share of Californians make fun of Oregonians for being “hippies,”“hickish” or “redneck.”
While these stereotypes may hold true in some cases, for the majority of both Californians and Oregonians it doesn’t accurately represent them, and they both resent being labeled as “basic” or “country” purely based off of their looks, wealth, or state citizenship.
Nonetheless, many Oregonians still see Californians as the privileged who are trying to take over and change Oregon into California, which is why the term U.C. Eugene strikes such a huge nerve with so many Oregonians.
Oregonians are used to other Oregonians, and like any group that feels threatened by outsiders coming into its territory, it doesn’t take long to find reasons to resent or dislike those from that outside group. You don’t need to look far online to find articles like Why do so many Oregonians hate Californians? Here’s why, on thatoregonlife.com, ‘They do not like Californians’: How the Pacific Northwest is treating transplants, on sfgate.com, or Warning to Californians on city-data.com. The last article warns Californians to “leave the elitism and materialism in Santa Monica, as Oregonians are not high on the showy flash, and the dislike of Southern Californians is one of the few things that will unite the left wing hippies and conservative ranchers in Oregon.”
These problems can be seen in places such as the Portland area, where many Oregonians are upset about Californians moving in and gentrifying areas, causing prices in the housing market to raise significantly. Because of this, some Oregonians stereotype wealthy or Southern Californians as superficial, elitist, or consumerist. This is especially apparent in one story the Mercury News reported, where Oregonians spray painted “Go back to California” on someone’s car.
In the end though, the Californian students who are here are here to stay, and like it or not, the flow of Californian students will likely only increase in the future. When it comes down to it, Californian students have as much right to Eugene and the University of Oregon as anyone. Their tuition dollars are a huge reason why Oregonians are able to have such a great school at such a low cost. While there may sometimes be cultural or class differences, we’re all just college students. The sooner we realize that we’re not Oregonians or Californians, but University of Oregon students, the sooner we’ll be able to get along with one another.
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