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UO students take appropriate action

Kudos to some University of Oregon students who noticed that an organization classed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center is using a logo that is remarkably similar to the university’s trademark trademarked “O’’ and who responded wisely.

The students, who are members of M.E.Ch.A. (Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán), crafted a letter to the UO’s general counsel, explaining why they felt that Oregonians for Immigration Reform was violating a university trademark, why they were concerned, and what they hoped the UO would do.

The university is zealous when it comes to protecting its trademarks, which have not only significant financial value but also emotional, intellectual and philosophical value. They represent the university to the world. UO attorney Kevin Hayes responded to the students by firing off a letter to OFIR, noting the SPLC’s reference to it as hate group — a designation that OFIR disputes — and saying that, while OFIR is free to espouse its opinions, “the University of Oregon neither supports your message, desires to be associated with your message, nor wishes to assist in your fundraising efforts.” Hayes then threatened the group with legal action based on trademark infringement and dilution.

OFIR, which describes its mission as “ to stop illegal immigration as well as reduce legal immigration” has had some successes in Oregon. These include leading a successful campaign to overturn the state’s decision to give four-year driver’s cards to people who can’t prove they are in the United States legally. The group’s leader, Cynthia Kendoll, described illegal immigration from Mexico in an interview with Willamette Week as “an organized assault on our culture.”

These messages hit close to home for the members of M.E.Ch.A., whose membership is open to all and whose mission includes increasing the number of Oregon Chicanos who attend and graduate from college. They chose to channel their hurt and frustration into a constructive response, which bodes well for their potential as future leaders in the community and in Oregon.

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