Zachary Stark-MacMillan, ASUO Senate President
As the University of Oregon and Oregon Research Institute move forward jointly with plans to build a private office building and parking lot on public lands next to the Willamette River, the Associated Students of the University of Oregon have acted decisively to begin a student-led process of creating a new vision for the future of the university’s riverfront property.
Using special funds, the ASUO recently granted $56,000 to host lectures and workshops throughout the coming year, providing opportunities for students and the public to learn how communities around the world have protected and restored urban riverfront land and an opportunity to create a community vision for our valuable riverfront.
The grant also will allow faculty across disciplines to offer courses and sponsor research using the riverfront as a classroom. It could include gathering ecological data, writing projects or preparing an economic impact study. Students are hopeful that these events and classes will provide the basis for a new vision for the riverfront once the current plan expires in 2012.
Unfortunately, the city of Eugene issued a building permit to allow construction of a parking lot for the proposed ORI building. If constructed, this building would foreclose on unique academic and recreational opportunities that students are seeking. It is time to prioritize the education of students and the needs of the community by selecting another site for the ORI building.