A protest against UO’s use of the Oregon Corrections Enterprises (OCE) to contract prisoners to build furniture was staged in the EMU today at around 10 a.m. It was hosted by the Student Labor Action Project (SLAP).
Protesters sat on the floor to represent a symbolic refusal of the furniture made by prisoners, according to members of SLAP, who were interviewed by the Emerald after the protest.
The protests will continue in the classrooms this week, according to SLAP members. A few dozen members will be sitting on the floor in their classes while holding signs throughout the week. SLAP welcomes anyone to join their protest.
The signs at Tuesday’s protest read, “UO has spent millions on prisoner-made furniture,” and, “I oppose the prison-industrial complex.”
A different protest, also staged by SLAP, was staged last week. According to a press release sent to the Emerald the day after the protest, the group considered OCE to use prison slavery. The group held banners from multiple locations around campus that said “UO uses prison slavery,” and “end prison slavery.”
The press release stated, “We were forced to take this step after our letters and requests for meetings about the issue were ignored.”
Augustine, a member of SLAP, explained that protesters in SLAP are not providing their full names, and did not provide full names during the last protest, out of fear of retaliation from administration in the form of student conduct code charges.
The mission statement of the OCE states, “The Mission of Oregon Corrections Enterprises, in partnership with the Department of Corrections, is to promote public safety by providing adults in custody with work and training opportunities in a self-sustaining organization.”
OCE responded to the last protest, stating that the OCE has no current contracts with the UO, although there have been contracts in the past.
“UO has periodically submitted purchase orders to OCE for specific products and installation services. The only time AICs [adults in custody] are on UO grounds is when they are delivering or installing products,” according to the OCE statement.
SLAP’s press release stated, “The University’s partnership with this agency is extremely immoral, and contradictory to the UO commitment to ‘steward resources sustainably and responsibly’”
The release went on, “As such, we, as students at the University, demand that the University of Oregon terminates all current contracts and refrains from any future engagements with OCE.”
Protestors were gone by 12:30 p.m.
Casey Crowley contributed reporting to this story.