The Weekly Churn, March 7

Reports of Invasive Filming in OSU Bathrooms
A second incident of privacy violation in OSU’s bathroom allegedly took place on Tuesday, February 26. The OSU Department of Public Safety emailed the campus, stating that they received a report of someone attempting to film the occupant of a stall in the men’s bathroom of the Memorial Union Building (MU).

Around 2 pm on Tuesday, February 26, according to the email, “the suspect attempting to video record was identified by a witness to be a male of Asian descent, 5 feet 6 inches tall, of slight build and was reportedly wearing a black puff coat, black pants, and black shoes with white stripes.” The Department of Public Safety are asking anyone with information to call 541-737-3010, and stated OSU is “currently reviewing bathrooms on campus to determine if changes are necessary for increased security.”

This incident comes a few weeks after another student was arraigned on a first-degree felony invasion of privacy charge for allegedly creating and using a small hole in a stall of the sixth floor men’s bathroom in the Valley Library. There is no evidence these two cases are related.

According to Josh Hunking, who represents Andres Lazaro Lopez, the student arraigned in January, their case is more complex than the charges let on. Hunking says the root of the incident was “gay cruising,” the practice of homosexual men finding public places to meet and have sex without being caught. The Daily Barometer found “multiple Facebook pages, blog sites, and news articles that have referenced the Valley Library’s sixth floor bathroom as a frequented place for cruising.”

While public safety officials claimed in January that these cases are unprecedented, they are presented alongside claims that Valley Library has seen incidents like this before. After Lopez was arrested, reports stated that “the library bathrooms have now been checked for holes in the walls, and all that were found have been filled.”

Dismissed OSU Rape Case Now Sealed
Jordan Alexander Pace, a former OSU football player formerly charged with multiple sexual crimes, has successfully requested that his arrest record be sealed. Sealing records, according to Chief Deputy District Attorney Ryan Joslin, “means for all legal intents and purposes the case never happened.”

Pace, 21, was charged with first degree rape and second-degree sexual abuse, among others, in May 2017. The Benton County DA’s office dismissed the charges against him in October 2018, citing a lack of evidence.  

Deputy District Attorney Amie Matsuko had asked Judge Locke A. Williams to delay the hearing on sealing Pace’s records, as his accuser would not be able to attend. Williams denied Matsuko’s request, claiming that the accuser “had been given an opportunity to speak at the hearing,” then granted the request to seal Pace’s record.

“The related police reports get sealed,” said Joslin, “and if the incident is inquired about, no information can be provided.”

Corvallis Clinic Opens New Facility
The Corvallis Clinic, a health care provider based in Corvallis, opened a new Albany location on Tuesday, March 5. They are doubling their previous floor space and adding more primary care physicians as well as much-needed specialists in fields like neurology. 

The Clinic already has facilities in Albany which provide primary care, but plans to shift primary care resources to the new facility over time. The new building will house six physicians to cover primary care, while the existing buildings will be redesigned for specialty care. Clinic officials say they’re not yet certain what specialist services they want to add.

“We’re talking about physical therapy and rehabilitation, maybe sports medicine or dermatology,” said Judy Corwin, Corvallis Clinic’s Director of Marketing, “all of these are still maybes.”

There is a consensus about bringing in neurologists to hopefully take up residency in Albany, to help with patients suffering from strokes or Parkinson’s disease.

Another clinic in the Albany area will ideally ease some medical tensions in a city with much lower density of primary care physicians than across the river in Corvallis.

State AG Joins Push to Regulate Student Debt
Oregon State Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum last week joined a growing national movement encouraging state legislatures to regulate companies that service student loan debt. There is over $18 billion in debt in the state of Oregon alone, held by well over half of the state’s graduates. Based on a proposal from Connecticut known as the Student Loan Bill of Rights, the new law would require companies who service student debt to be subject to state laws, which would require higher levels of disclosure and education to borrowers about the terms, conditions, and repayment options.

Student loan debt has been dubbed a national crisis by experts and commentators alike. In 2018, estimates put total U.S. student loan debt above $1.5 trillion. Between 2009 and 2018, mortgage debt in the U.S. rose 3.2 percent, while student debt literally doubled, growing 102 percent over the same period. According to the New York Federal Reserve, by the end of 2018, young adults between 19 and 29 years old had surpassed $1 trillion in collective debt, most of which exists in the form of student loan debt.

Rosenblum joins a group of Representatives and Senators pushing HB 2258 and SB 279, an Oregon Student Loan Bill of Rights which would “[institute] basic consumer protections…[and] create a student loan ombudsperson to monitor student loan services.”

On a national level, this push to regulate a “predatory” industry is being led in part by Seth Frotman, executive director of the Student Borrower Protection Center, an advocacy organization for student borrowers. Until recently, Frotman was the student loan ombudsman (an official who investigates allegations of malpractice against other public officials) at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau under the Trump administration. He “resigned in protest over the government’s attitude toward student borrowers.”

This was in reference to a memo released in February 2018, in which Department of Education officials stated that these state laws were invalid, arguing only the federal government can regulate student loan servicers. The servicers themselves have made this argument in multiple lower courts “with mixed success.”

Oregon would be the fifth state along with the District of Columbia to adopt this measure, but Frotman believes more than a dozen more states will consider these laws in the next few years.

By Ian MacRonald

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