The University of Oregon received complaints this week from campus community members regarding the university’s advertisement on Breitbart.com, the alt-right news site. Breitbart News emerged as President Donald Trump’s media support during the 2016 election season.
Last week, citizens of Eugene brought to attention an advertisement on Breitbart that displayed a UO Strategic Communications Master’s Program. The advertisement was attached to an article slandering women and describing why they should not strive for a mathematics or science degree.
The article, “Here’s Why There Ought To Be A Cap on Women Studying Science and Maths,” published in 2015, discussed Breitbart’s perception of the value of current female mathematics and science degree holders.
“Even women who graduate with good degrees in science subjects often don’t use them: they switch careers in their twenties, abandoning the hard sciences,” wrote Milo Yiannopoulos, senior editor for Breitbart News.
The university’s advertisement caught the eyes of many affiliated with UO. Various alumni across the country chimed in via Twitter to share their thoughts.
“They tweeted me, in response to my tweet expressing dismay, that they were sorry and that it was just an algorithm,” said Janet Johnson, a University of Oregon Law School alumna. “However, I know many companies have managed to stop their ads from appearing on Breitbart.”
The university acknowledged the issue on Twitter and is intending to take action.
UO has deemed this a third-party algorithm issue. In other words, they were not aware the ad was on Breitbart.
Johnson, like many others, has demanded change, threatening to no longer financially support the university until the issue is solved.
“I would first make sure they understand the horror of seeing my alma mater not only advertising on a Breitbart story, but that the story being about why women should not become scientists made alumni like me feel horror and shame,” Johnson said.
The university has made recent efforts to foster diversity and create a safe campus space. However, some in the community feel the advertisement set the university back, as many continued to share their frustration, including Johnson.
“I’d want their assurance that it will never happen again. That one ad undid years and years of reputation building by UO,” she said. “It was heartbreaking.”