Retired University of Oregon professor who was pelted with snowballs by students will not press charges

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Posted by Julianne Parker on Sunday, Dec. 8 at 12:05 pm.

Sherwin Simmons the retired University of Oregon professor, who was pelted by students with snowballs on Friday, told The Emerald that he is not pressing charges today.

“I have confidence that the reaction of the university given what has happened will be proportional,” Simmons said. “It will consider these young people and their futures and will also, I hope, suggest to them that they need to rethink behavior like that.”

Simmons was on his way to the campus museum, the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art around 3 p.m. on Dec. 6 to donate several of his own paintings to the museum’s collection. As he drove north on University Street, his car was blocked by a group of students who were participating in a UO football team organized snowball fight.

“Someone started banging on the car and it was like the snowballs were fists hitting the car,” Simmons said. “Then I was blinded by people both tossing snow on the window and racking snow off the roof. They were out of control.”

Not wanting to injure any surrounding students by driving any farther, Simmons put his car in park and got out.

“I decided maybe if I get out, they’ll see that I’m 60 years old and I’m a human being,” Simmons said. “I was disoriented and all I wanted to do was ask why they were doing this and to please stop.”

Immediately after Simmons opened the door of his car, somebody dumped snow out of a bucket into the driver’s seat. He expressed his belief, however, that these actions were a reflection of mob mentality, not individual character.

“People were cheering when snow was thrown into my car,” Simmons said. “I don’t think people do that except under some sort of psychological mechanism that comes with people feeling they have permission because other people are doing it, and to act in a way they maybe wouldn’t act individually.”

Simmons spoke with several students who he says denied having been a part of the snowball attack on him and his car. He returned to his car and proceeded to the museum where he alerted security to call the University of Oregon Police Department to monitor the situation.

As Simmons left the museum and proceeded back up University Street, three cop cars and about six UOPD officers had arrived at the scene of the snowball fight.

“I just rolled down the window and said, ‘Thanks for coming here,’ because I was hoping no one would have happen to them what happened to me.”

Continuing coverage of the snowball fight and its consequences can be found on our topics page.

Follow Julianne Parker on Twitter @julianneparker

  • Gabriele

    The university still needs to punish them. Plain and simple.

    • BeefJerkyTrain

      naw. we kinda need to change our mindset when it comes to ‘punishing’. no one is going to benefit from punishment on this first instance of a problem.

      the U simply stating that ‘any other offence similar to this will result in punishment’ will have the same result as punishing these particular kids. it will deter any later incidences, but also not wrinkle the future of a bunch of kids who got riled up. the goal of punishment is to deter, right? well, firing a warning shot works pretty well.

      they weren’t thinking. now, they will have time to think, and have can have some good documentation on what happens if there are repeat offenses.

      just because someone gets away with something that is slightly upsetting doesn’t mean it needs punishment. especially when no serious harm was done. reserve punishment where it is really needed.

      • Juan2X

        Nice try. Were you there too? Missing the toilet bowl game and being sent home for finals for the non football students should be the start.

      • Siggro

        The best deterrence of future actions will be a strong response here. “man, chill out, remember what happened to those jokers who were acting the fool last time”. Agree that suspended for one game seems appropriate. Those who reflect poorly on the U don’t get the honor of representing them on the field.

      • servantoftruth

        ” no one is going to benefit from punishment ” Spoken like a true liberal.

      • Sonny

        So everyone should be allowed to rob a bank once? Then just be told “Don’t do it again”.

        • asdfasdf


  • Tim Boetch

    Of course he won’t. Football is UO’s meal ticket. The university likely pressured him to not pursue charges.

    This is so transparent, it’s funny.

    • nic

      Actually, if you knew him personally, you wouldn’t think that. Especially since he’s faculty in the Art & Architecture school, most of whom couldn’t care less about the football program considering it doesn’t support the Architecture and Allied Arts programs even a tiny bit. Simmons is a stand-up guy who does genuinely care about his students, and he’s intelligent enough to know that if he retaliated beyond University sanctions it wouldn’t make a difference to the kids who perpetuated the actions.

      • bitbuckettx

        > if he retaliated beyond University sanctions

        I’m not sure how pressing charges for assault, battery, and harassment, as would be his right, constitutes ‘retaliation’.

        • Joey

          “It will consider these young people and their futures…”

          Clearly Simmons knows that pressing such charges would endanger the students’ futures; he is a big enough man not to do that over a snowball fight.

          • bitbuckettx

            A snowball fight is one thing – childish fun.

            Involving innocent bystanders in your snowball fight is being a jerk but still relatively harmless.

            Preventing someone from peacefully leaving is a whole different level of thuggishness and should be punished to the full extent of the law. That punk is lucky the prof didn’t run him over; he would have been fully justified in doing so with the mob surrounding his car.

          • servantoftruth

            “Preventing someone from peacefully leaving is a whole different level of thuggishness and should be punished to the full extent of the law.” In so many ways that is the most serious. You can’t do that. And yore right, he should be imprisoned and fined hugely!

  • Deprecating Duck

    well, the video has now reached a million views. congrats.

    • “Guest” is wrong

      If you’re implying that Journalism shouldn’t highlight activities that show the University in a negative light, you are incorrect.

    • Juan2X

      You mean congrats oregon students and student athletes?

    • amandameezer

      According to our local news broadcast as of last night, Sunday Dec 8. it had 7 million hits on youtube. The professor has stressed again to the university he did not want anyone to be punished by suspension but the university has barred one of the football players from playing from at least one game. I live in Portland so I have been hearing updates on the news all the time from Eugene.

      College football is a big deal here so there is a huge interest in this. I think that’s one reason the professor doesn’t want anyone on the team to be in serious trouble besides the fact that he is just trying to downplay the whole incident and doesn’t want to hurt the future careers of these guys.

  • Cougs_suck

    What a bunch of D bags these kids are, the one where the person tries to drive away and the moron stands in front of the car so he can’t is ridiculous. He’s lucky that person didn’t just start driving and run his dumb @$$ over.

  • Deprecating Duck

    oregon ducks now = jail blazers of the early 2000s

    • Dogshit

      Man go work for John Canzano at The Soccer Mom Times.

  • John
    • John

      College kids do stupid things especially in situations like these in front of a riled-up group of their peers. It was a very classy move on the professor’s part by declining to press charges, in all honesty I hope these kids learn their lesson from this incident and treat people with the respect they deserve in all situations and not stand by as casual onlookers like many did during the course of this video.

      • Juan2X

        Yeah if these were “inner city” youth of color you wouldn’t be singing that college “kids” bullshi.. These are adult aged people not “kids” and should be treated accordingly

  • WorldTraveler

    Thumbs down to football players apologizing for their anonymous teammates when they know darn well who did the dirty deeds.

  • joe

    This is disgusting. These kids need to be charged. Here’s to their future. You do something illegal and you go to jail. Welcome to tje real world you thugs! They are no longer high school kids.

  • flyonawall

    At least our armed campus cops didn’t intervene and escalate the situation. The snowball fight is over. Lets let everyone apologize, grow up, maybe shovel some snow as restittution.

    This story is the really tragedy

    And now our campus police have guns. Feel safer??

    • Don’tBreedRetard

      Actually yes.

  • Daph

    wow. selfless man

  • 1/9KimKardashian

    Mostly black children I suppose they got excited as you don’t get a lot of snow in the jungle ?

  • 1/9KimKardashian

    Typical middle aged white man, always doing the right thing and not hurting anyone. If it was me I would run a few over and then say the pedal got jammed. Mostly, failed students that need to be “removed” to clear some financial aid for more worthy students.

    • Juan2X

      Historically speaking middle age white men are responsible for colonizing the world so you can shove that comment far up your…

      • wyrosjr

        You imply that middle age white men didn’t do the world a favor by colonizing the world. Maybe genital mutilation and spear chucking give you a sense auld lang syne?

        • Juan2X

          whatever you say devil

  • 1/9KimKardashian

    Trashy, flipping burgers joke of a university.

  • amandameezer

    Too bad he doesn’t want to make these jerks accountable for their actions. That’s just going to encourage them to do it again. These entitlement minded spoiled brats think they can get away with anything and the sad thing is they can.

  • Rome

    A couple of really punk kids. Not the guy dancing in front of the car…..he was harmless, but the kid dumping snow into the car….yeah, he’s just plain stupid and mean. The morons pelting Simmons when he is out of his car and just trying to talk…..those kids deserve all the hardships that their future will bring them.

    • Nathan Zebrowski

      I have to disagree. The most serious act here was stopping the car and preventing the man from getting away. The person who waved the car to a stop and the one who blocked the car with his dance–anyone who prevented the professor from getting away was committing a more serious act. I would have to include the guy who dumped snow on the windshield–that also prevented the man from moving along. From outside, when you’re part of a mob, it doesn’t seem like such a big deal, but when you’re in the car, and you’re the target, it’s not the same. I’ve been there, though snow wasn’t the issue.

      Fortunately, this was on campus and the prof was wise and level-headed and there were a few stand-up students in the crowd.

      • Nathan Zebrowski

        BTW, totally agree with the prof. The response should not be any kind of prosecution; however, there should definitely be a some serious enforcement of “rethinking behavior like that.”

  • Juan2X

    Same scene….southside of Chicago….how many would the pigs have arrested or killled?!

  • bob

    to bad they weren’t all killed.

  • CK

    Everyone who is all riled up about this event needs to put it in perspective. Was it silly what the kids did? Yes. But I really doubt it was the intent of any of them to harm anyone. They just got caught up in the antics. I think some people are REALLY overacting to this.

    • Cheryl

      hey ck, you have the story wrong, THEY WEREN’T KIDS, THEY ARE ADULTS,, stupid and immature adults, but I don’t recall the age limit of university starting at 8 years old. If you want to call them kids, then like all kids they need to be punished. what if this person had an emergency they were trying to get to. What if they were feeling ill, and just wanted to get home. What if there had been a grandchild in the car. When do we start to say enough is enough. I you want to talk about the people who were on the footbal team, think how many of sports personal have been up on serious charges in the last decade.

  • The Hawque

    The best part of this is the professor is a class act!

  • OU Law 81

    I’m glad Professor Simmons will not press charges. I can imagine things seemed a little more chaotic from inside his car, though he obviously didn’t feel he was in the grip of an out of control mob or he never would have emerged from his vehicle to confront the students.

    From the vantage point of being outside the car, this was a friendly snowball fight that Professor Simmons had the misfortune to drive through. Hardly out of control, the participants were laughing and in high spirits, befitting the event and the weather. Even the good professor didn’t seem all that upset.

    As for the haters posting here, well, anti-Oregon trolls are everywhere. Haters gonna hate.

    • NepotismIsDomesticTerrorism

      “Haters gonna hate.”

      The extensive vocabulary and well-reasoned counter-argument of a Ph.D.

  • Irwin Busk

    Well, as of this moment, they’re on DOUBLE SECRET PROBATION!

  • Irwin Busk

    I’ve got their disciplinary files right here. Who dropped a whole truckload of fizzies into the swim meet? Who delivered the medical school cadavers to the alumni dinner? Every Halloween, the trees are filled with underwear. Every spring, the toilets explode.

  • rocky

    the poor old man should have done what the driver in the SUV did to those biker thugs in NYC and step on the gas pedal and run those animals over esp that twat who stepped in front of his car and stopped him from driving away.

  • Sonny

    True Story: I was on campus a few years ago and lobbed a snowball at my buddy at night and hit him. Whoops…wasn’t my buddy. The guy came over, beat the snot out of me, and carried on. Guess what: I deserved it.
    That guy dancing in front of the car, the guy dumping the snow, and all the others hitting the guy with snowballs need the snuff smacked out of them. Believe me, these thugs won’t learn. They’ll chalk this up as another “victory” because they weren’t punished/fined/imprisoned.
    If it had been rocks, would you all be so quick to forgive?

  • FullReporting

    Last night on PTI on ESPN, the Oregon snowball incident was an item. Regarding 68 y.o. retired Professor Sherwin Simmons, ESPN’s Michael Wilbon said, “What a dope this guy is. What a joke this professor is. I’d like to hit this professor with a snowball high and tight, how about you?”

    Appears as if Wilbon didn’t do his homework, “The affected drivers have both said that they don’t want to press charges,” UO police spokesman Kelly McIver said. What penalty occurs from OU or athletics is a different issue.

    For Wilbon to imply a retired 68 y.o. Professor should be held up as the root of the problem speaks to Wilbon’s absence of decency. Professor Simmons should be applauded for how he handled this “assault” on his person and his vehicle. Recall NY City and the bikers’ entrapment of an SUV driver and its results?.

    Wilbon could have offered reflections on this being a “teachable moment” on many levels, but he did not.

    Wonder what Wilbon would have said if his wife Sheryl or 5 y.o. son Mathew Raymond had been the car’s occupants and been treated the same way as Professor Simmons?