Register-Guard: “University appears to miss point of its own equity goal”

Equity is a critical concept in public education, but unfortunately it has become a buzzword for institutions wanting to appear progressive. Publicly, administrators tout commitments to equity when in reality their practices create barriers for traditionally underrepresented students.

Despite declarations to the contrary, the University of Oregon has recently demonstrated a disturbing disregard for equity. In nine months of contract bargaining with GTFF, which represents over 1400 graduate employees, UO has consistently threatened cuts to graduate employee health care.

Why is this an equity issue?

UO’s most vulnerable graduate students rely on our hard-won health insurance to pursue advanced degrees. This includes students with disabilities, students with chronic mental health challenges and students with dependent children.

Without our current health coverage, many of these underrepresented students would be lost from UO. Some may be forced to cut their studies short while others may decide not to pursue advanced degrees at all.

When UO threatens our health care, it demonstrates that administrators believe diverse voices are not valued in our classrooms, our labs and our community.

It’s time for UO to live up to its stated values and decide whether equity is worth the investment or if it’s just another buzzword.

Alyssa Vitale, Eugene