The rugged individualism portrayed by a statue of a Pioneer on the University of Oregon campus has made the news. The 100-year-old statue, featuring a man carrying a whip in one hand with a rifle slung over his shoulder supposedly makes some students and faculty feel “very inferior.” And they want it gone.
One member of the Native American Student Union specifically mentioned the rifle as making him feel uncomfortable.
The University of Oregon’s student newspaper The Daily Emerald covered the story:
Every day, thousands of University of Oregon students pass the Pioneer statue on their way to class.
The pioneer stands among the students between Fenton and Friendly halls, carrying a whip in one hand and a rifle slung over its shoulder.
As the statue’s 100-year anniversary approaches, the history surrounding the statue has sparked conversations — and a possible protest — on campus and in the community.
The statue was vandalized last month with red paint sprayed onto its crotch and whip in its right hand and googly eyes were placed over the statue’s eyes. Following this vandalism, members of the community reached out to the Emerald with information about its history and a rumoured protest. Members of the Native American Student Union and the UO history department said a protest was in the works but could not offer any other information at this time.
Ryan Reed, a member of NASU, said the statue has made him uncomfortable since his first weeks on campus.
“A lot of people think a pioneer is a frontiersman — an explorer. For us, it’s a totally different definition,” Reed said. “That feeling comes from what he’s carrying on his shoulder and what he’s carrying on his belt.”
Later in the story, Ryan Reed compares the statue to Ted Bundy, the notorious serial killer.
Reed said the Pioneer statue might not bother every student at UO, but it negatively impacts the way Native students feel on campus.
“It’s like a murderer being praised for what they did. I guarantee that if you got [Ted] Bundy’s statue up on campus, people are going to go hectic,” Reed said. “But they don’t think of that with the pioneer statue. It’s been so romanticized and white-washed that a pioneer is a thing that is supposed to be positive.”
Triggered over the mere sight of a 100-year-old statue depicting rugged individualism? What has this country come to for some of these bed-wetting children attending college? And the fact Reed equates the pioneer with Ted Bundy diminishes the loss to the families of Ted Bundy’s victims. To say nothing of airbrushing away the great achievements of the pioneers which made the University of Oregon possible.
If Mr. Reed genuinely feels so oppressed by the statue, perhaps he should attend another school.
That probably won’t happen. Instead, Mr. Reed and the NASU will find something else to protest. Maybe even the fact that campus cops carry guns. After all, for some, the mere sight of a real firearm leads to incontinence, fear, trembling, anxiety attacks and even unintended bowel movements.