Reclaim UO works through board coalition building and long-term strategic planning to reverse the privatization of public higher education and assert our right to public oversight of and investment in higher education for the betterment of our shared communities.
Reclaim UO was started by students at the University of Oregon in the Winter Term of 2020. A big motivator for the founding of Reclaim UO was the Board of Trustee’s unanimous decision in the Fall Term of 2019 to grant UO President Michael Schill a $100,000 bonus for “good performance.” Not only was the meeting for the bonus held during Finals Week at a time inaccessible to students, but the bonus came on top of President Schill’s $720,000+ yearly salary, a housing stipend and a car stipend. This was an unacceptable decision by the Board of Trustees that ignited students, faculty, staff, and community members to come together to organize around our continued frustrations with the Board of Trustees and University Administration.
The long-term goal of Reclaim UO is to see the democratization of the Board of Trustees. Under the current structure, Board of Trustees are appointed by the Governor of Oregon pursuant to SB270. Due to this undemocratic structure, the Board of Trustees now consists mostly of individuals from large corporations like Goldman Sachs, Colombia Sportswear, Microsoft, multiple Timber companies, among other large corporations. Since this problematic structure was implemented, it’s evident in the Board’s decisions that they are heavily influenced by corporate interests and a tendency towards privatization; this translates to yearly tuition increases, unwarranted bonuses for those at the top, and regular pushback on fair contracts for graduate employees, faculty and staff. The University of Oregon must be affordable and accessible to all, and decisions like this continue to price students out and make it difficult for graduate employees, faculty and staff to provide quality instruction.
What does a democratized board look like?
A democratized Board of Trustees looks like a board that consists of students, faculty, staff, and community members that have voting power and representation. Our current board structure is not representative of these vital stakeholder groups on campus. With a a democratized board structure, we can ensure that the people making the most important decisions at UO are close to campus, close to the issues, and well informed of the impacts these decisions have on all stakeholder groups respectively.
Our Organizing Structure
Reclaim UO is structured to be participatory, inclusive, and sustainable for all of those involved. Together, we develop well-rounded perspectives on structural problems and how we best go about solving them. Reclaim UO is organized through a series of committees and work groups with specific areas of focus. The main two committees are the Campaign Action Team (C.A.T.) and the Legislative Action Team (L.A.T.). The subcommittees are our research team, our technology and communications team, our outreach and coalition building team, our media and publicity team, and our arts and theater team.
University Administration counts on student turnover and burnout. In preparation for this, we have intentionally set out our work as strategic and sustainable — responding proactively to Administration’s divide and conquer tactics; trusting our team to know when they need to step back or step up; and building structurally to prepare for the natural ebb and flow of our base.