Protests, new buildings and the EMU bells. Fall term 2019 at the University of Oregon was nothing short of interesting. We saw the Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation settle a new contract, the opening of the Lyllye Reynolds-Parker Black Culture Center and Tykeson Hall and we said goodbye to Smith Family Bookstore’s 13th Avenue location. Here’s a look back at the top stories of the term.

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Rachel Hampton, VP of operations at GTFF, uses a sign as her voice. Following the vote to authorize a strike, the Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation holds a rally to demand a fair contract at Johnson Hall on Oct. 18, 2019. (Marissa Willke/Emerald)

GTFF settled a new contract with the university 

After nearly a year of bargaining, the Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation and the UO settled on a new three-year contract for its graduate employees. The contract, which includes six weeks of paid parental leave, a bump in salaries for many workers and no increases to health care costs, came after the labor union threatened to strike at the start of week 6 if it and the university could not come to a deal.

“I am incredibly proud of what we were able to build over the year of negotiations,” GTFF President Ellen Gillooly-Kress said to the Emerald when the union announced the results. “I am also very excited to see what we can do next as we have built up an incredible network of people who are now engaged in the union in a way I have never seen in my six years of being involved.”

The union represents UO’s 1,400-some graduate employees, graduate students who teach, research and work in university administration in exchange for tuition and fee waivers.

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The “bell” that can be heard from the EMU actually comes from speakers that are mounted on the roof of the building. The intercom system uses the sounds of carillon bells. (Marissa Willke/Emerald)

EMU bells are back in town

An electric bell system, known as the “Carillon Chimes,” sits on top of the EMU. It has existed in some form since the 1950s and rings on the quarter of the hour, every hour, from dawn until dusk. It can play anything from music to an emergency alert system.

But after a survey was posted on the UO subreddit, it was revealed that many people aren't fans of how frequently the bell rings. Nearly half of students said it distracts them from their work.

The bells are especially disruptive in the LLC residence hall, where one student said that he could hear the chimes through his headphones when he had music on.

However, most of the students in the survey still wanted the bell around. All they wanted was for it to ring less than four times an hour, every hour, every day.

SEIU workers prepare to strike

Workers prepare to strike. (Courtesy of SEIU local 503)

SEIU came close to striking

In September, classified employees at Oregon’s seven public universities also came close to striking. Negotiations had stalled for months between the schools and the labor union representing their classified employees, Service Employees International Union Local 503. The 4,500-member union planned to begin striking Sept. 30, the day before classes began at UO and some other Oregon colleges.

But the strike was averted days before its potential start when SEIU and the universities were able to come to an agreement. Classified employees include workers in food preparation, maintenance, custodial services and information technology, among other areas. The new contract includes increases to salaries and paid leave due to weather-related closures.

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Tykeson Hall has many resources for people experiencing the sophomore slump on the University of Oregon campus. (Maddie Knight/Emerald)

Tykeson Hall opens 

Tykeson Hall opened at the beginning of the fall term. The newest College of Arts and Sciences advising building on campus introduced an experimental style of advising using “flight paths.” These paths act as a way to consolidate similar majors in an attempt to help students who are not settled on one major yet.

This building has been in the making since 2014 when Willie and Donald Tykeson made a $10 million donation to UO. They eventually held a ceremonial groundbreaking in fall 2017. According to the Tykeson website, the academic structure of Tykeson (its classrooms, advising models and career center) is the first of its kind in the country.

“One of the new things that's very innovative for CAS students is this integrative model where you have academic advising happening while career advising is threaded through it. So when you’re thinking about these majors and programs, students are able to talk about careers and leading them to what those experiences are and advising,” Kimberly Johnson, vice provost of advising said of Tykeson Hall.

Students seeking to explore career options, integrated academic and career advising, or who are just looking for guidance toward the right major can now find all of this in Tykeson Hall.

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The Smith Family Bookstore has been based in Eugene since 1974. (Connor Cox/Emerald)

Smith Family Bookstore closes

In October, the Smith Family Bookstore announced that it would be closing the doors on its UO campus location after 45 years in business. It was the last-standing used bookstore near campus. For a long time, Smith Family was the closest and cheapest option for used textbooks. However, with textbook sales moving online and a renovation happening at their second location on Willamette, it was time for Smith Family to close up shop near UO. We heard from second-generational owner Evon Smith about what the bookstore meant to campus in the ‘80s and what to expect from the expansion on Willamette street.

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Lyllye Reynolds-Parker, President Michael Schill, and members of the UO Black Student Task Force cut the ribbon to officially open the Black Cultural Center. The grand opening of the Lyllye Reynolds-Parker Black Cultural Center takes place on Oct. 12, 2019.

Lyllye Reynolds-Parker Black Cultural Center opens 

UO held a grand opening for the Lyllye Reynolds-Parker Black Cultural Center on Oct. 12. Speeches by Reynolds-Parker, a former advisor at UO and the first Black person born at Eugene’s Sacred Heart Hospital, UO VP of Equity and Inclusion Professor Alex-Assensoh and members of the Black Student Task Force who initially demanded the construction of a Black Cultural Center on campus marked the event.

The BSTF issued alist of demands to UO administration in 2015 in order to foster a more welcoming environment for Black students. UO President Michael Schill announced the construction of the building in 2017 and broke ground on the project in 2018.

After considering more than 20 people for the honor, a committee of students, faculty and staff chose Lyllye Reynolds-Parker as the namesake of the cultural center. The BCC is the first building on campus named for a Black woman, and Reynolds-Parker was chosen for her 17 years of work at UO and continued commitment to the Eugene community today.

The Lyllye Reynolds-Parker Black Cultural Center is now home to a resource library where students can watch movies and check out books by Black authors and about Black culture; an art gallery; a conference room for student organizations and office space.

In her speech during the BCC opening, Reynolds-Parker quoted her father: “‘Give people their flowers while they’re alive.’ Well, I’m smelling my roses today!”

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A giant toy duck sits in the lobby of the Graduate Eugene to pay homage to the University of Oregon Ducks. (Marissa Willke/Emerald)

Graduate hotel comes to Eugene 

The Graduate Eugene hotel opened up over the summer. The Graduate line of hotels brand themselves on being decorated completely in the style of the college and town that they set up in.

Eugene’s Graduate Hotel is no different. The first thing seen when walking into the hotel is a custom-made Oregon Duck toy on wheels. The reception desk is a glass case filled with vintage Nike shoes. Art from local artists decorates the hallways.

Every small decoration in the room has meaning. The lamps are formed into statues of the goddess Nike, there are pictures of Otis Day on the wall and ducks on the bathroom wallpaper. It's a micro version of Eugene that sits in the center of the city.

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(Michael M Stokes/Flickr)

Ultra-high-speed railway to come to Oregon 

Leaders in Oregon, Washington and British Columbia, Canada are planning to connect the Pacific Northwest megaregion “Cascadia” using an ultra-high-speed railway. The new mode of transportation is currently planned to run from Portland, Oregon; to Seattle, Washington; to Vancouver, British Columbia, with each stretch taking around an hour.

Eugene was originally part of the railway plan and would have acted as the southernmost station for the Cascadia high-speed railway. The proposed route for the train would have placed tracks following or crossing over Interstate 5, according to Cascadia High-Speed Rail LLC. 

According to a business case published in July 2019 by the Washington State Department of Transportation, the project would generate an increase in gross domestic product 12 times that of the construction costs for the project. The railway initiative would also stimulate job growth with as many as 160,000 jobs being created by connecting the megaregion and another 30,000 directly from the construction of the project. These data sets are only for Washington and similar growth is expected in Oregon.

News Reporter

Donny Morrison is a news reporter covering the city beat for the Daily Emerald. In the past he's written feature stories for both Ethos Magazine and The Torch. He takes strictly cold showers.