Stuart Reges, a computer and science engineering professor at the University of Washington, has stated his intentions to sue the school.
Reges was instructed to place a “land acknowledgement” in his class curriculum. As noted by Reason, the land acknowledgement would state that the University stole some of their land from Native Americans.
The University gave Reges an example of how his syllabus should read: “The University of Washington acknowledges the Coast Salish peoples of this land, the land which touches the shared waters of all tribes and bands within the Suquamish, Tulalip and Muckleshoot nations.”
However, Reges’ syllabus said the opposite: “I acknowledge that by the labor theory of property the Coast Salish people can claim historical ownership of almost none of the land currently occupied by the University of Washington.”
University administrators quickly removed Reges’ statement, which they said was “offensive” and “toxic.” Reges said that by doing so, the university infringed on his First Amendment rights.
According to the lawsuit, Reges said his amended curriculum “challenged his students and fellow faculty to think about the utility and performative nature of land acknowledgment statements.” Reges also said he discussed the statement with his students on the first day of school and the class passed “without incident.”
The University of Washington disputed Reges’ version of events and said many students raised complaints about the content and Reges’ statement caused “disruption to instruction.”
According to the New York Post, the lawsuit says that the University took further steps to prevent Reges’ statement reaching more students as they decided “to consider whether to further punish or even terminate Professor Reges because of the views he expressed in his dissenting statement.”
Court documents show that students were “invited” to attend a “shadow” class that would be taught remotely by another professor as an alternative to Reges’s class.
“It’s a very simple First Amendment case where the university encouraged professors to include land acknowledgments on our syllabus, and they suggested a progressive version of it. I included a more conservative version of it, and they freaked out,” Reges said during an interview with Fox News.
“It was clear that they wanted a particular kind of land acknowledgment. There was a particular view of American history that they wanted you to affirm, you know, that the United States is evil and that we stole land from native tribes and so forth,” Reges added. “So I took them up on the suggestion to include one, and I included one that I knew they wouldn’t like because it didn’t match that view of history. And they really went crazy.”
The University remains steadfast in their view that they have done nothing wrong in this case. They said that they have certain expectations for how each course should be taught and have not violated Reges’ first amendment rights.
“The University of Washington is reviewing the complaint,” University Spokesperson Michelle Ma said when discussing the lawsuit with Fox News. “The university continues to assert that it hasn’t violated Stuart Reges’ First Amendment rights and we look forward to making that case in court.”
ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: REASON.COM
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