Philosopher Cailin O'Connor to speak at SOU

Philosopher to lecture at SOU on misinformation and false beliefs

Cailin O’Connor – mathematician, philosopher, author, evolutionary game theorist and associate professor of logic and philosophy of science at the University of California, Irvine – will speak at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 22, in Room 151 of the Southern Oregon University Science Building.

O’Connor’s free lecture is part of SOU’s “Campus Theme” lecture series. Each year’s lectures follow a theme, and this year it’s “uncertainty.” The first lecture in the series was by Stanley Crawford, who talked about his legal fight against a large garlic importing company. To continue with the theme, O’Connor will discuss the spread of misinformation and the inherent uncertainty of our beliefs.

That topic is also the focus of O’Connor’s 2018 book, “The Misinformation Age,” in which she and co-author James Owen Weatherall use models of social networks to show the social spread of false beliefs. O’Connor also wrote the 2019 book, “The Origins of Unfairness – a monograph on social categories’ influence over cooperation and the distribution of resources.

“The Misinformation Age” was selected last January for both the New York Times’ Editor’s Choice Reading List and Scientific American’s Recommended Reading List.

O’Connor has been a member of the UC-Irvine faculty since 2013. She received her bachelor’s degree in visual and environmental studies from Harvard College in 2006 and her doctorate from UC-Irvine in 2013.

SOU faculty members are asked to encourage their students to attend Campus Theme presentations.

The themed lectures are presented by the Oregon Center for the Arts in partnership with the Office of the Provost and the Division of Humanities and Culture.

Story by Blair Selph, SOU Marketing and Communications student writer

U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley, who will visit SOU for Friday's town hall meeting

U.S. senator to visit SOU for town hall meeting

U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon will be on the Southern Oregon University campus on Friday for what promises to be a wide-ranging town hall meeting as he seeks input on “what we need to do to strengthen our state and our nation.”

The SOU event, from noon to 1 p.m. in the Stevenson Union’s Rogue River Room, is part of Merkley’s ongoing town hall tour of Oregon’s 36 counties. SOU students and employees are encouraged to attend Friday’s meeting, which is apparently the first SOU visit by a U.S. senator since October 2015 – when both Merkley and Sen. Ron Wyden came to the SOU campus to discuss student debt.

Merkley’s staff said he would have preferred to visit when school is in session, but the upcoming impeachment trial and other senate business in Washington, D.C., have limited his Oregon schedule. His Friday event was scheduled by Merkley’s staff, rather than by any group at the university.

All southern Oregon residents are invited to attend the town hall meeting. Free parking is available in SOU’s Mountain Street parking lot.

More information about Merkley’s town hall schedule and issues he is currently addressing is available on his website.

Merkley was the first in his family to attend college, earning his bachelor’s degree in international relations from Stanford University and his master’s degree in public policy from Princeton University. He worked as a national security analyst before returning to Oregon to serve as executive director of the Habitat for Humanity office in Portland.

He was elected to the Oregon House of Representatives in 1998, became speaker of the house in 2007 and then was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2008. He was reelected in 2014 and is running for reelection to a third term in 2020.

SOU community asked to help higher education survey

SOU community members encouraged to help in state higher education planning

All members of the SOU community have been asked to help set the stage for a statewide strategic plan on postsecondary education by completing an online survey from Oregon’s Higher Education Coordinating Commission.

Respondents from throughout the state will be asked for their views on the future of postsecondary education in Oregon; the state’s educational goals, public investment and accountability; and priorities such as student success, equity, affordability and impacts on both communities and the economy. The survey – which takes 10 to 15 minutes to complete – is hosted by the HECC and Portland’s Coraggio Group strategic consulting firm.

The online study, which must be completed in one session, will remain open only through Dec. 24.

Results will provide a baseline as the HECC begins development of a new strategic plan to improve educational outcomes and guide the future of higher education and training programs in Oregon. Focus groups, interviews and other online tools will also be used to gauge public attitudes, perceptions and preferences.

The HECC is actively seeking input from existing and prospective students, parents, faculty, staff, administrators, community leaders and policymakers. Participation by SOU employees and students will ensure that the university’s perspectives are well-represented.

The HECC – a board of volunteer commissioners – advises the governor and legislature on Oregon’s postsecondary education policies and funding. It makes budget recommendations and sets funding allocations for the state’s 17 community colleges and seven public universities.

Britt Hall at SOU

SOU offices relocated for Britt Hall renovation

SOU departments that occupy space at Britt Hall are being temporarily relocated, primarily to accommodate seismic and mechanical upgrades to the building. The OHSU nursing program is also investing in a complete renovation and modernization of its simulation labs, classrooms and support areas in Britt’s lower level.

Abatement and some demolition work will begin in February, with an anticipated completion date of Fall 2022 for the entire project.

Affected departments are in the process of being relocated to other accommodations around campus:

  • The Service Center moved Dec. 2-5 to the first and second floors of Susanne Homes west wing; contracting, purchasing, student employment, university travel, support specialist functions and paycheck distribution services will be provided at the new location.
  • The Service Center accounting unit will remain in Britt Hall until it joins Business Services at Room 154 of Churchill Hall on Jan. 2
  • OHSU nursing moved Dec. 2-6 to Cascade Hall; services transferred to the new location Dec. 9
  • The academic Department of Communication is moving Dec. 16-19 to a modular facility east of the Digital Media Center on Webster Street; services are transferring to the new location Dec. 23
  • The Admissions Department is moving Dec. 23-24 to the Stevenson Union Access Center, below the SOU Bookstore; services are transferring to the new location Dec. 30
  • The Enrollment Services Center is moving Jan. 20-24 to the Computer Services East Building; services are transferring to the new location Jan. 27

Signage and a map will be posted outside Britt Hall to help direct traffic to the new locations of the various offices.

Britt Hall was the second building on campus – following Churchill –when it was built in 1937.

Use of RVTD bus passes is on the rise at SOU

Use of RVTD bus passes on the rise at SOU

Southern Oregon University’s free and discounted bus passes for the Rogue Valley Transportation District have seen a sharp increase in 2019, even as student enrollment has plateaued.

“Both students and employees have seen a notable upswing between fall 2018 and fall 2019,” said Daniel Kelly, student coordinator for the Transportation Options program. “The most dramatic increases are that student sales have risen by 37 percent and employee ridership has spiked by 73 percent, even though both populations have shrunk.”

RVTD bus passes are $15 per term for students – 90% off the usual cost – and are billed to students’ accounts, so immediate payment is not required. Directions to sign up for student bus passes are under “Bus Options” on the Transportation Options web page.

Term-by-term bus passes for staff and faculty are offered at no charge. Application instructions and more information are available on the SOU Service Center web page.

The reasons for SOU’s bus ridership spike are multifaceted, Kelly said.

“RVTD has been doing a lot in the past year to expand their services … better quality of service combined with a heightened desire to use personal vehicles less just naturally leads people to use public transit more,” he said. “We’ve also pushed our efforts to get people aware of the student bus passes at the beginning of the term, and even before school starts for the year.”

The expense and other issues with parking on campus could also be factors in the increased bus use, Kelly said.

“It only makes sense for the university and for students to find cheaper solutions to commuting, which is something that everyone has to deal with,” he said.

The Transportation Options program provides information, encouragement and incentives for members of the SOU community to use alternative transportation. Kelly works with environmental and community engagement coordinator Jill Smedstad, RVTD Transportation Demand Management Planner Edem Gomez and fellow student coordinator Danni Keys, who will take on Kelly’s duties after he graduates.

Kelly and Keys have used tactics including events in the Stevenson Union and informational brochures to increase awareness of the bus passes and other alternative transportation options.

“The SOU bus pass program is just one that we advertise, along with the Rogue Bike Share, SOU’s bike shop and the statewide ride-sharing and trip-planning tool, ‘Get There Oregon,’” Kelly said.

RVTD is the public transportation provider for Medford, Ashland, Central Point, Talent, Phoenix, White City, and Jacksonville, with bus routes that run from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Story by Blair Selph, SOU Marketing and Communications student writer

Survey will gauge broadband service

SOU community members asked to participate in broadband survey

Oregon’s economic development agency wants to know if you’re well-connected. Business Oregon, through its Oregon State Broadband Office, is conducting a survey through Dec. 15 to evaluate internet access in various areas of the state and help plan for future network expansions.

Individuals, businesses, organizations and state agencies or institutions such as SOU have been encouraged to participate in the statewide survey to determine the reach and effectiveness of Oregon’s broadband services – whether DSL, fiber-optic, cable or satellite. The economic development agency is working to ensure that all households, businesses and organizations in Oregon have reliable access to internet services that allow them to be competitive with their counterparts in other states and countries.

Results of the survey will help direct public policy regarding what has been referred to as Oregon’s digital divide – the haves and have-nots of broadband service – and set recommendations for state funding to address any shortcomings.

“Broadband not only provides the essential capabilities we need for our personal and business needs, but without it our communities risk falling behind economically, making it harder to keep and attract people and businesses and jobs,” the state’s broadband office said in an email announcing the survey.

The Oregon Broadband Office was established last December by an executive order from Gov. Kate Brown that placed the office under the authority of Business Oregon. Its purpose is to promote access to internet services statewide, improving Oregon’s economy and quality of life.

The office coordinates with the Oregon Broadband Advisory Council to develop an internet service map of the state, develop investment strategies and advocate for solutions where problems exist.

Smaller plates avoid food waste

SOU awarded grant for novel approach to reducing food waste

(Ashland, Ore.) — Southern Oregon University has been awarded a $7,512 grant from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality to try a logical means of reducing food waste on campus: use smaller plates.

The grant pays to replace 10.5-inch plates with nine-inch plates at The Hawk student dining commons.

SOU’s grant application explains that “studies have shown a reduction in plate size can lead to a reduction in food waste as patrons eat the portions allotted on the smaller plate. Larger plates tend toward food waste as patrons take more food than the individual can consume in one sitting.”

Drew Gilliland, director of SOU’s Department of Facilities, Management and Planning, said that any money left over from the dish replacement will be used to “purchase additional smaller plates and purchase marketing materials to encourage healthy eating.”

SOU’s grant application was submitted last year by then-sustainability and recycling manager Roxane Beigel-Coryell, who has since left the university for a similar position in southern California. The plates were replaced in mid-September, before fall term classes began, so first-year students attending SOU won’t have noticed a change.

The grant requires that food waste measurements be recorded this year to determine the effectiveness of the reduced plate size. Gilliland said early indications are promising.

“It’s my observation that there is already less food waste and we want to continue to reduce that,” he said. “Publishing the results of the study will hopefully encourage our students to discuss food consumption.

“We plan on using the study as part of a marketing program to encourage mindfulness around our consumption and its impact on the greater environment.”

He pointed out that the discarded 10.5-inch plates weren’t thrown away.

“(The larger plates) will be used for special events and other events where food is provided,” Gilliland said. “We may also consider donating any excess to a non-profit.”

Story by Blair Selph, SOU Marketing and Communications student writer

SOU to adopt Purple Heart proclamation

SOU president to sign Purple Heart proclamation

Southern Oregon University will become the first Oregon university to adopt the Military Order of the Purple Heart proclamation during a formal ceremony on Wednesday, Nov. 27, pledging the university’s support to military veterans and placing SOU on the “Purple Heart Trail.”

The Purple Heart is the United States’ oldest military award that is still issued – awarded to any member of the armed forces who is physically harmed or killed in action. The Military Order of the Purple Heart is a U.S. nonprofit organization made up of military veterans who have been awarded the Purple Heart.

“(This proclamation) is a way to show appreciation and support for those who have earned the Purple Heart in service to our country,” said Kevin Stevens, coordinator of SOU’s Veterans Resource Center. “It also correlates with the core values and mission of our university.”

More than 200 SOU students each year are considered military-affiliated. Most of them are veterans or dependents, while many others serve as cadets in the Army ROTC program. SOU also offers a Military Science Program that serves nearly 150 students per term, and various campus organizations are dedicated to helping veterans – including the Veteran’s Resource Center, the Student Veterans Association and the Veterans’ Student Union.

SOU President Linda Schott will sign the proclamation on behalf of the university at 10 a.m. on Nov. 27, in SOU’s Veterans Resource Office – Room 301 of the Stevenson Union. The proclamation encourages SOU students and others to “show their appreciation for the sacrifices the Purple Heart recipients have made in defending our freedoms, to acknowledge their courage, and to show them the honor and support they have earned.”

The proclamation will also induct SOU into the Purple Heart Trail, a symbolic system of roads, highways, monuments and cities that give tribute to those awarded the Purple Heart. These locations have special signage to denote their participation in the trail.

While SOU is the first university in Oregon to make the declaration and become a part of the Purple Heart Trail, the trail includes 21 cities in Oregon, as well as Grant and Jackson counties.

Story by Blair Selph, SOU Marketing and Communications student writer

Stanley Crawford to lecture on garlic battle

SOU guest to lecture on garlic, international companies and uncertainty

(Ashland, Ore.) — Stanley Crawford – garlic farmer, author and focus of the Netflix documentary “Garlic Breath” – will speak at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 13, in SOU’s Meese Auditorium (Room 101 of the Art Building).

Crawford’s free lecture will lead off the university’s 12th annual “Campus Theme” lecture series. Each year’s lectures follow a theme, with past series including “Ignorance and Wisdom,” “Truth” and “Shapes of Curiosity.” This year’s theme is “Uncertainty.”

Crawford is an author who moved to Dixon, New Mexico in 1970, where he and his wife Rosemary started their garlic farm, El Bosque Farm. There, he wrote “A Garlic Testament: Seasons on a Small New Mexico Farm” along with other essays and novels.

Crawford started a legal battle in the fall of 2014, when he petitioned the US Department of Commerce to look into Chinese garlic importer Harmoni International Spice, which Crawford claimed was exploiting an anti-dumping loophole. The fight between Crawford and Harmoni continues, but his account of the case has been told both through his upcoming book “The Garlic Papers: A Small Garlic Farm in the Age of Global Vampires,” and in the episode “Garlic Breath” of Netflix’s six-part documentary series “Rotten.”

SOU faculty members are asked to encourage their students to attend Campus Theme presentations.

The themed lectures are presented by the Oregon Center for the Arts in partnership with the Office of the Provost and the Division of Humanities and Culture.

Story by Blair Selph, SOU Marketing and Communications student writer


Naloxone overdose rescue kit

Opioid overdose rescue kits available throughout SOU campus

Last year’s initiative to place overdose rescue kits at various locations on the SOU campus, enabling friends or passersby to save the lives of those experiencing opioid overdoses, has expanded this year.

A total of 20 Naloxone rescue kits – up from 18 last year – are now located at SOU: in the Shasta, McLoughlin, Cox, and Madrone residence halls; the Greensprings Complex; Aspen and Hawthorne halls in the Cascade Complex; the Education/Psychology, Theatre, Music, and Science buildings; The Hawk; the Facilities, Maintenance and Planning building; Stevenson Union; Hannon Library; two locations in Lithia Motors Pavillion; the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the Campbell Center; and Britt and Taylor Halls. A map of all kit locations is available on Inside SOU.

Naloxone, also known by the brand name Narcan, can legally be possessed and administered in Oregon. It has no narcotic effects, and works by reversing opioid-induced depression of the respiratory and central nervous systems. Opioids include drugs such as heroin and methadone, along with prescription pain medications including hydrocodone, oxycodone, codeine, hydromorphone, morphine, oxymorphone, fentanyl and buprenorphine.

Overdoses requiring lifesaving treatment can occur in a wide variety of settings and circumstances, so everyone is encouraged to prepare as emergency responders. Self-training tools include an eight-minute video with details on how and when to administer naloxone, and a step-by-step description of the medication’s use.

An average of more than 115 people per day die of opioid overdose in the U.S., and a spike in opioid use and overdoses has been seen in southern Oregon. SOU’s proactive approach to addressing the issue has been effective, as one kit was used last year.

Story by Blair Selph, SOU Marketing and Communications student writer