January 30, 2023

Is Freedom of Speech at Risk at the University of Washington?

Freedom of speech is the essential foundation for a democratic society.  It is also a requirement for a functioning university.   Freedom of expression is particularly protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution for public entities such as universities.

Disturbingly, a number of groups have noted serious problems regarding freedom of speech at the University of Washington.  Groups both inside and outside the institution.

The Report of the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE)

FIRE is a highly respected non-partisan group dedicated to protecting freedom of speech at U.S. colleges and universities.  Recently, it released a detailed report on freedom of speech at over 200 American colleges/universities, based on input from tens of thousands of students and faculty, as well as the review of materials from each institution.

The University of Washington was the lowest-rated of any public university in the nation.  

Let me repeat:  the UW was at the bottom of a long list of major public universities/colleges regarding freedom of speech.  In fact, the UW was rated as "code red" for "clearly and substantially restricting freedom of speech."

Several hundred UW students were queried and most were fearful to speak their minds in public.  For example, only 43% of students say they have rarely or never self-censored on campus. In other words, 57% are self-censoring.

FIRE noted that UW's Executive Order 31 allows the university "to discipline or take appropriate corrective action for any conduct that is deemed unacceptable or inappropriate, regardless of whether the conduct rises to the level of unlawful discrimination, harassment, or retaliation".  Totally chilling and potentially illegal.

UW Students Organize For Freedom of Speech:  Huskies for Liberty

The situation at the UW has gotten sufficiently serious that a large group of students has organized a new, nonpartisan student group to defend freedom of expression at the UW:  Huskies for Liberty.

I attended one of their meetings a month ago and the stories I heard were disturbing.  

For example, one young woman described unfortunate behavior by a faculty member after the student expressed an unpopular viewpoint in class.  The faculty member even called out the student by name on social media and encouraged other students to make formal complaints. Shameful and outrageous.

The Huskies for Liberty group tried to post flyers around campus advertising their meetings, but those opposed to free speech tore many of them down (see below).  Others had "editorial" comments marked on them that I cannot repeat on this blog.

The American Association of University Professors

The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) was born out of the attacks on academic freedom, including the loyalty oaths and communist purging during the cold war period.  Unfortunately, AAUP has "evolved" during recent years to become a promotional organization for "progressive values."   Their commitment to freedom of speech and diversity of ideas has waned.      

For example, the UW AAUP  website states: "where legally permissible speech shows potential to harm individuals or undermine the fundamental purposes of the academy, UW AAUP will advocate for resources that prevent or mitigate harm"  Unfortunately, they have followed through on this approach, restricting freedom of speech of individuals with differing viewpoints.

For example, the AAUP has a popular listserv to which thousands of UW faculty and administrators subscribe.  This moderated listserv is dominated by "progressive" viewpoints, with AAUP moderators frequently rejecting messages that differ from the AAUP moderators' viewpoints.   I could supply dozens of examples of such censorship.

Here is an explanation by the current head of UW AAUP on why the listserv needs to be moderated (i.e., censored)

"The reason this list requires moderation is precisely so that it may function as an open forum for faculty to address and debate their issues and concerns. "                 

Censoring to foster an open forum?  The Brave New World of the UW AAUP.   

And a moderator of the AAUP list stated the following after rejecting a contribution with a different viewpoint:

Our concerns remain about giving so much air time to those who seem to be hostile to the university’s attempts to amplify diversity, equity, and inclusion.”

So much for freedom of speech and diversity of viewpoint on the UW AAUP listserv.

The UW DEI Establishment

One of the most worrisome changes at the UW has been the establishment of a huge Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion infrastructure encompassing over 100 "diversity" deans, administrators, staff, and advisers.  

The cost of this establishment is huge:  from my analysis, it costs at least 5 million dollars a year in State funds. Students and their parents are paying for this. So is every state resident.

The UW DEI establishment advocates a highly politicized agenda, including pushing faculty to acknowledge that they work on stolen land, advocating for "equity" (equal outcomes for all demographic groups), preferences/affirmative action for a limited collection of favored demographic groups, and guidance on the use of pronouns and wording, to name only a few.   

The UW community is told not to use words such as "whitebox, whitelist, master, dumb terminal, and "sanity check."

Some DEI staff have monitored the social media of professors, encouraging public criticism and attacks on faculty with "problematic" viewpoints. (more on this later!)

To ensure that incoming faculty support the politicized UW DEI viewpoint, applications from prospective faculty must include a DEI statement that notes their experience in fostering DEI and their future plans to push a DEI agenda.

To put it frankly, a political litmus test.  And it is just as inappropriate as the loyalty oaths of the 1950s.

Last year, there was an attempt to require that current UW faculty provide a statement supporting DEI for promotion (e.g., tenure).  This proposal was narrowly defeated by a vote of the faculty.

The essential fact is that the hugely expensive UW DEI bureaucracy is pushing a very narrow vision of diversity, favoring only a handful of special groups.   In many ways, it is anti-diversity, rejecting the unique diversity of every human being, and assuming that all of us are characterized by our race, ethnicity, sex, or sexual orientation.

Attacking Faculty for Possessing Differing Viewpoints on Social Media or in Class

A key requirement for a functioning university is that students and faculty should be exposed to a range of viewpoints.  Differing viewpoints that are discussed and analyzed in the search for truth.

Unfortunately, several UW faculty and staff have been attacked for alternate viewpoints.  Let me give you some examples.

Consider, Professor Stuart Reges,  a faculty member in computer sciences and the winner of several teaching awards.   Professor Reges was concerned by the pressure to include a Native American land acknowledgment in the class material, and, in protest, came up with an alternative version that was not to the UW's liking.   He was threatened and hectored by administrators and told he faced investigation and potential punishment.  Startlingly, his department set up a parallel section of his introductory class and then encouraged students to transfer out of his section.

Professor Reges has taken legal action against the UW and has a very good chance of winning.

Professor Stuart Reges

Or consider  Research Meteorologist Mark Albright, former Washington State Climatologist, who noted in 2007 on a listserv outside the UW that Washington State snowpack was not declining rapidly (we now know he was correct).  At that time, he was the Associate State climatologist, and was FIRED from his position at the UW, because it might encourage "climate skeptics."   Mr. Albright was a staff member in my group at the time, and I was pressured to fire him or take away his email privileges (which I did not do).

Finally, let me mention one of my own experiences.  In 2016, I was a strong supporter of a non-partisan initiative for a state carbon tax to discourage fossil fuel use, with the funds returned to state citizens (I-732).  Several climate activist groups opposed it because they wanted the cash.  Two years later, they proposed I-1632,  this time for a carbon tax in which they controlled the money to spend on their pet projects.  

I wrote a blog opposing their poorly conceived approach.   My department chair (a strong supporter of the initiative) and the College of the Environment Dean then encouraged the College's Dean of Diversity to write an email sent to my entire department noting the racist nature of my blog.   They were trying to suppress speech even OUTSIDE the UW.   Even worst, my department chair then invited the department to a "shaming session", where he and department activists called me all kinds of names.  A member of my faculty grew up in China:  she said it was exactly like the cultural revolution.

The UW should not be like this

I have other examples of UW's attempts to suppress freedom of expression, but the above will suffice for now.

UW Faculty Fight Back

 A growing group of faculty, from many departments and varied political viewpoints, is fighting back against the attempts to constrain speech and viewpoint diversity on the UW campus.  Many are members of the national, non-partisan group known as the Heterodox Academy (HxA), started by well-known social scientist Jonathan Haidt.    The UW HxA group has a very active listserv, local meetings, and a book discussion group.   It helped organize the successful effort against mandatory DEI statements for advancement.   If you are a UW faculty member, please join us (just join the national group or let me know).

A University in Fear Cannot Function

The UW has become highly politicized and there have been active attempts by UW administrators, some faculty, and a number of students to suppress viewpoints they don't like.  

A university cannot function when freedom of speech is suppressed and students/faculty are afraid to express their viewpoints.

And let's be clear:  many UW community members are afraid to frankly reveal and discuss their viewpoints on a range of topics.

Dozens of faculty and students have told me of their fears; even some members of the UW HxA group want to keep their association with HxA secret, fearful that their positions could be threatened.

The tools of fear are two-fold:  (1) fear of being criticized, attacked, or threatened for their views and (2) fear of being denied tenure, advancement, good grades, or academic opportunities.  The combination is powerful.

The UW Must Change Direction

The University of Washington is one of the leading universities in the world.  We can be proud of that.  But it will not retain this lofty position if freedom of expression continues to be undermined.

It is time for the leadership of the UW to make a clear commitment to free expression.

It is time to drop all political litmus tests, such as mandatory DEI statements. 

It is time for the huge, expensive, and problematic UW DEI bureaucracy to be dismantled.  Instead, the UW should treat each student and potential faculty/staff member as a valued, unique individual and not a representative of some group or special interest.

It is time to follow the law, both in letter and spirit. 

Federal law REQUIRES that public institutions protect freedom of speech.  And the Washington State Civil Rights Act,  enacted by the voters through Initiative 200 in November 1998, specifically prohibits racial and gender preferences by state and local government.

It is time for the UW to act upon the words of UW President Ana Mari Cauce:

"Speech by people we strenuously disagree with, and that is, in fact, hateful and repugnant, is the price we pay for democracy and to ensure our own freedom of speech. When we give the government the power to become the arbiter of what views are acceptable, then we have taken a step toward authoritarianism."

"Universities are by their very nature places for discussion and debate of controversial issues. These debates are absolutely critical to the educational experience and in developing citizens prepared to engage with democracy."

Whether you are a student, parent, staff member, faculty, donor, or state citizen, make your wishes known, both to the university and the Washington State legislature.


  1. This isn't weather. Do you work for the UW? How can they get away with this? These are the same people that teach our children? This is scary

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. It has everything to do with the first amendment. This is deep legal precedent on this. Including the Supreme Court.

    2. The 14th amendment to the US constitution made the 1st amendment, among others, applicable to the states. Even more directly and fundamentally, article 1, section 5 of the Washington constitution states "Every person may freely speak, write and publish on all subjects, being responsible for the abuse of that right." That last phrase obviously includes libel and 'shouting fire in a crowded theater' . But are there other abuses and what are the acceptable ways to hold someone responsible for abuse? I say overt racism and antisemitism are such abuses because, as with libel, the speaker should know the falsity of the tropes. But how does society make the speaker responsible for such abuse?

    3. UW is a government institution, not a private company, so its restrictions on speech definitely fall within purview of the first amendment.

    4. Public universities are primarily supported by taxpayer dollars. It is well past nigh to cut off their funding and make them change their abhorrent POV or go it alone.

    5. Yeah, you're correct. I take back what I said.

  3. It's far too late to do anything about this now. The time to act was twenty years ago, when Washington still had a sane supreme court. Anyone who refuses to worship DEI will be fired or retire early in disgrace, while the "equity statements" screen out any free-thinking faculty applicants; in the UC system the DEI office already rejects 80% of applicants based on these statements before passing the remaining resumes on to the hiring committee.
    Everyone who let things get this bad deserves the blame for it. "Nice liberal" faculty members never spoke up to defend those who were attacked first, and now there is nobody left to speak up for them.
    If you try to hold a meeting about this a mob of masked thugs will smash your windows screaming "shut up fascist," with the full support of the university bureaucracy.

    1. While Washington's Supreme Court now act as toadies of Gov. Inslee, the federal judiciary also has jurisdiction. UW Administration have walked right up to the line with Cliff before, but backed down because the legal department knows that the law isn't on their side with this stuff.

  4. How on Earth does the UW have the lowest rating when Florida universities are eliminating classes required for entire degree programs because they may anger governor DeSantis?

    1. Read the FIRE report. Far better in Florida.

    2. I'm sure if Florida keeps going in the current direction, new reports from FIRE will reflect it.

      That said, there is a difference between a right to free speech and a right to a certain class or degree program. The first is protected in the Constitution, the second isn't.

    3. Read the report. It just shows and an aggregated score and indicates the criteria used - but it doesn't give a breakdown. How do we know the actual score per criteria. Minimal usefulness, if you ask me.

      In addition, a lot of the criteria of the methodology is driven by student behavior and beliefs that aren't controlled by admin.

      I'd honestly say that the study reflects where on the political spectrum student bodies reside more than free speech. Only one of the criteria actually points to admin, and it's the "Administrative Support" one.

    4. “We want to make sure that everybody who goes to a Florida university has to take certain core course requirements that’s really focused on giving them the foundation so they can think for themselves,” DeSantis said Tuesday. “And the core curriculum must be grounded in the actual history, actual philosophy that has shaped western civilization.”

  5. If a meteorologist has to censor the forecast....

  6. Might be a little bias here "FIRE has received millions of dollars in contributions from politically-active conservative nonprofits, including over $3.4 million from the Charles G. Koch Foundation, over $3.4 million from Donors Capital Fund and DonorsTrust, over $1.8 million from the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, over $1.3 million from the Sarah Scaife Foundation, over $1 million from the Searle Freedom Trust, and over $1 million from the Stand Together Trust.

    Progressive watchdog organization Media Matters included FIRE in a 2017 piece describing how groups funded by right-wing billionaires and dark money organizations influence college campuses. Media Matters says "FIRE has partnered with anti-LGBTQ hate group Alliance Defending Freedom for some of these cases. It has also frequently weighed in on sexual misconduct cases, arguing that the definition of sexual harassment should not include 'large amounts of constitutionally protected expression, such as any unwanted "sexual comments, gestures, jokes, or looks,"' and defended campus organizations that use hateful rhetoric or seek to exclude potential group members based on sexual orientation. Recently, FIRE took up the cause of defending student groups that did not want to pay extra security costs for hosting serial harasser Milo Yiannopoulos on his campus speaking tour, during which he engaged in targeted public harassment of individual students."[8] " Sourcewatch.

    1. You are very much wrong about this. FIRE gets funding from all sides of the political spectrum. FIRE members and management range in political orientation as well. I went to one of their meetings last fall....as many democrats as republicans in the group.

    2. Nice strawman argument you got there.

    3. At that meeting, did all dems and repubs and independents wear differently colored hats with giant labels proudly proclaiming their party affiliation? If not the assertion of equal #s of repubs and dems has no objective evidence.

    4. wynneforplants.... that is silly. Most of us talked about our backgrounds--and many gave presentations....cliff

  7. Thank you for bringing this to light. Science - that is the scientific method of creating and testing hypothesis - needs free discourse on the topic. Without the freedom to properly debate questions even if it doesn't fit the popular narrative, society might still be imprisoning Galileo for claiming the world isnt the center of the universe, or bleeding sick people in an attempt to heal them.

  8. I grew up in a different and largely rural state in the 1960's. It was acknowledged that graduates of rural area high schools in that state didn't have the same access to college prep educational resources that students in the larger towns and cities had.

    The imbalance was addressed through a policy in which anyone who had a diploma from a high school in that state had to be given one semester to prove themselves at any in-state university of their choice. If they got a 2.5 grade average or better in their first college semester, they were in.

    As a consequence of this policy, some portion of the academic resources of each state university had to be allocated for teaching remedial courses for students whose high school education wasn't good enough to compete head-to-head with the graduates of better supported high schools.

    My own high school academic record wasn't all that great. After I got out of the US Army in the early 1970's, I decided to give college 'the old college try' and managed to get a 2.6 GPA in my first semester. So I was in. My college GPA improved in the following years and was 3.7 in my last semester.

    OK .....

    If those among the UW faculty and the UW college administration who are pushing DEI to the exclusion of all other considerations are serious about it, they will drop all pre-college academic performance standards for admission to the university.

    They will instead grant priority admission access to any and all graduates of an in-state high school who have been identified as potential victims of current or past discrimination, either individually as a single victim, or as a member of an identified victim class.

    Further, the UW administration will devote any and all financial and teaching resources needed to bring these priority admission students up to speed academically, even if this means that funding for each UW academic department must be cut to pay for the necessary remedial courses.

    The effect of these actions would be to transform the University of Washington into the state's largest community college, and to largely eliminate those of caucasion and asian ancestry from the UW student body.

    That outcome is where UW is going anyway. Dropping all pre-college academic performance requirements as part of a DEI enforcement policy would simply speed up a process which is already deeply embedded in the institution.

    1. No one is advocating accepting all high school graduates for people who've faced some discrimination. Or if they are, please cite proof at least.

      Further, it it was the case that they proceeded to do this, this would NOT largely eliminate people of Asian ancestry. You think Asian Americans don't face discrimination (or have not)?

      This is just an extreme take. It's akin to say that Republicans are headed towards shutting down our entire government (and military) because they want 0 taxation.

    2. If you're intellectually honest about equity - equal outcome rather than equal opportunity - then admissions standards must go away. Everyone must have admission to the UW as an available outcome.

  9. Cliff, thank you for your courageous work on sounding the alarms about free speech at UW. I'm a 2005 (B.A.) alum and loved my time there. Then I did a Masters in Teaching in 2017 and was absolutely shocked and horrified at what at turn the UW had taken. It seems to me like we need a complete change in leadership and culture (and personnel) at the U. Getting to that point will probably be extraordinarily difficult (and perhaps unlikely), but if the UW can be reformed, it will be because of people like you.
    Also love the weather blog!

  10. Would be interested in seeing the UW communications that encouraged students to transfer out of Professor Reges's class. Read the Fire article, as well as the Daily's article on it and could not verify that they were encouraged (just that other alternate courses were added). Please share, if you have evidence of the communications.

  11. Read "woke racism" if you want to see a similar line of thought to what you are expressing- it's john mcwhorter's take on your rant.

    What we are seeing is the simple side effect of an increasingly winner takes all economy amplified by the social media outrage machine. Sadly, we collect all our metrics on the basis of minority status and we politically organize that way too, and that leads to sloppy conclusions with misdirected answers focused on racism and sexism and so forth. As the outrage grows it leads to censorship and absolutism. Every right winger must demonize teachers, just as every left winger must demonize cops. Those who don't demonize others are taken to be RINOs or DINOs, and the truth no longer matters.

    I do hope you go further and advocate for solutions that can be constructive. See if you can redirect DEI to be more about wealth and connections, not race and gender and grievance politics. For instance, why not try to get UW to adopt the Texas admissions systems, where the top 10% of every public high school is automatically admitted to the college? That would go further to diversify UW than any DEI model based on minority status. It is one thing to call out the wrong headedness of social justice warriors, but they are driven by real disparities, and the ideal is if their energy can be redirected to good results (easier said than done I know).

  12. This mostly boils down to how you feel about "hateful" speech. If you feel it should be allowed, or you want it restricted. If for instance "anti-racist" speech is not allowed, then you are limiting "free speech", and your rating declines. Then, who decides what is hateful and what isn't? etc and etc. Since I believe in Free Speech, but feel "Hateful speech" should be restricted, I'll just end up making myself crazy.

    1. The first amendment and its interpretation by the courts is clear: "hateful" speech is protected. How could it be any other way? "hateful" is a totally subjective thing. Only direct threats and call for physical violence can be restricted by a public institution.

    2. "This mostly boils down to how you feel". Dan, your comment touches on what's at the very heart of these issues. As someone wisely said, the truth doesn't care about your feelings. People under about 40 years of age often incorrectly equate disagreement with hate, because disagreement “hurts their feelings”. It’s an outcome of being raised in a sterilized environment of “playdates” and participation trophies. It’s not how the real world works.

    3. It is also important not to expand the concept of protected "hate speech". .While almost all pure speech and equivalent expression, including hate speech, is protected by the Constitution, other conduct that may occur with the speech may not be. Typical examples of unprotected conducted are various crimes and civil defamation. There are many bias-motivated hate-crimes prosecutions that result in enhanced penalties for the perpetrator. Hate speech often does not occur in a vacuum isolated from other conduct.

    4. The issue over how and when anyone decides exactly what "hate speech" entails always gives the game away. It's the same trope used by totalitarian regimes the world over, used as justification for taking away the natural rights of all citizens to speak their minds, without fear of government enslavement. Whom you may ask is in favor of limiting speech? Why, those in charge, of course!

  13. Yet again, those labeling other as 'Fascists' need only to look in a mirror to see one. I got by BA degree (from Florida State) in the 90s and the liberal slant was palpable even then. I cannot imagine the left leaning slant that students are subjected to in today's schools. As I said when I was a student, I'm okay with being presented with liberal concepts but ONLY if other viewpoints are equally allowed...

  14. There are two "Free Speech" situations present. One is the relationship between the School as a public institution and the Students where the First Amendment applies. Then there is the relationship between an employer and employees....where it doesn't. You can't just say whatever you want about your employer or really about anything that doesn't portray that employer in a positive light and not expect some kind of consequences. If you didn't work in academia, your employment would be in severe jeopardy, Cliff. Even now, you really should be planning for what comes next. UDub will find a way to force you out

    The Bill of Rights actually does very little outside of the Government dealing directly with citizens. Employers and other private entities can do whatever they want, with the caveat of there being possible civil and criminal penalties for anything too egregious. It's why Social Media platforms are not beholden to allow EVERYTHING users post. It's still a private service and they are allowed to make their own rules.

    1. You and I probably do not agree on many topics, but you have touched on an important issue in the free speech arena. As you suggest, government employees do not have an unfettered right to say whatever they want while on the job in the name of free speech. While government employees do have the same rights as private citizens, they cannot engage in speech while on the job that conflicts with their employers valid policies and practices. An interesting grey area in all of this are faculty members of a public university, particularly those who engage in research. These faculty members have a privileges while on the job not otherwise granted to regular public employees. But the line between what is in and not within the scope of employment of faculty (which includes speaking your mind on various issues) can be hard to define.

    2. Higher education is approaching an inflection point where it has to decide where it slots in. Mainly college used to be where one goes to learn independent thought. Which was a big part of why professors can become tenured and present views that might differ from established societal standards without immediate fear of reprisal. Students were left to decide for themselves as to which values align with theirs. Perhaps there has been a perception of an underrepresentation of conservative values on public campuses, but there is no shortage of conservative influence in society as a whole. There is organized religion, most work places, and any situation steeped in tradition will have conservative values in spades. Nevermind the media. There are also plenty of faith based institutions of higher learning.

      Ultimately, the public universities will be pushed into being focused primarily on workforce creation. Educating reliable, knowledgeable workers who obey and produce. If you want to "learn how to think", then the private universities and colleges are for that or do that on your own time independently. This would be a result of a coming backlash on the part of taxpayers demanding fairness and value for their money. No more Humanities. No more PC stuff. Entry based only on grades. Focus on STEM, finance and business. Things that actually make money. Oh, NO MORE TENURED STAFF. If the taxpayers aren't having it, than out the door you go.The Red States will probably really push this as they follow the Orban playbook but in time all public education will be forced to just focus on workforce training and ditching anything controversial. College education is too bloated for the taxpayers to stomach and in the end, companies just want drones. So, expect a huge 180 from where it is now with Public Universities being politicized indoctrination mills having to transition to glorified trade schools. At least on the actual instruction side. Research professors should remain viable, but not tenured
      and 100% able to be fired. R&D really should have a profit motive anyway. Seems harsh but it might be the only way to save higher learning from being consumed by politics and The Culture/Cold Civil War.

  15. Presumably, the changes Cliff describes at UW are a rational response to shifting incentives. I think it's unlikely that the university would indulge in policies and administrative reorganization that might jeopardize its bottom line (at least in the near term - no one has a crystal ball). Since UW is charting this course at apparently considerable expense, it would seem that doing so must be worth it, especially if said course isn't popular (and I'm not convinced it isn't). Perhaps the flow of money from the state and federal governments and private donors increasingly depends on the presence of a robust civil rights/DEI bureaucracy. There's no such thing as a free lunch and there are always hoops to be jumped through and boxes to be checked. I find it hard to believe that UW would spend big bucks as a costly form of signaling and thus it makes sense to me that either the resources which have been marshaled in service of the cause of DEI are either not signaling, not costly, or both. I.E. UW is most probably getting its money's worth and as long as that is the case then no amount of wailing and gnashing of teeth is going to do much to cause substantive change.

  16. A friend of mine is one of UW's bloated DEI staff. She views her job as a calling, which I find quite sad since it amounts to promoting political indoctrination at the university. I don't want to be any more specific about who she is and what she does, but it's appalling that our tax dollars pay for her to do it.

  17. Lifton is even more relevant to America today than he was in the 60s: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thought_Reform_and_the_Psychology_of_Totalism

  18. Bottom line is that "compelled speech" is unconstitutional.

  19. You been to Florida lately, Sport! In case you haven't noticed, there's an actual Fascist regime banning books and free thought at Florida universities.

    1. That is such a silly thing to say. A popularly elected governor is hardly a Fascist regime.

  20. "The UW DEI establishment advocates a highly politicized agenda, including pushing faculty to acknowledge that they work on stolen land, advocating for "equity" (equal outcomes for all demographic groups), preferences/affirmative action for a limited collection of favored demographic groups, and guidance on the use of pronouns and wording, to name only a few."

    None of that sounds like a highly politicized agenda to me. It sounds more like intentional efforts to redress specific and measurable historical harms aided and abetted by institutions of higher learning (e.g., exclusions from programs/positions/study design)

    I think we can all certainly wish that our country had a different history where civil war reconstruction wasn't violently opposed by white male land owners or treaty rights flagrantly denied, but thay is not the legacy we have.

    So I think it is more than fair that we simply ask our public employees to understand this context and act accordingly.

    Maybe if you weren't so defensive about all this, you wouldn't feel so antagonized? Just food for thought.

    1. Galen.... name calling is not appropriate....it suggests you have a weak argument. Affirmative action is against the law in Washington State...did you know that. And it is highly political... surely you know that...cliff mass

  21. Florida is in the top 5 as far as freedom goes. In many cases it's the MOST free, even beating out Live Free or Die New Hampshire. New York and California are consistently dead last. That is based upon Fiscal Policy, Personal Freedom and Regulatory Policy. Washington is in the lower third of "less free" so for a state you claim is fascist, they so do have a lot more control over their individual lives than here in the PNW. Too many rules here and the Tribes have WAY too much power.

    1. Florida is so free that the governor wants to discard high school curriculum that he doesn't like, restrict women's healthcare choices, and fires anyone in state government who publishes public health statistics that contradict his narratives.

      That's "free?"

    2. Josh...that is silly. All states restrict abortion...including WA state. You talking about the ex-employee who illegally took information off a sensitive state database? Please....get your information straight...cliff

  22. I just read the UW's list of problematic words.

    It's a dizzying experience. I'm all for equality, but I think that we've become way too sensitive as a society, and probably too guilty about the misdeeds of our ancestors.

  23. I got a BA from WWU in the 70’s. WWU held the position in the state then that Evergreen does now. But there were excellent professors and students could seek them out and get a great education. It was very much ‘live and let live’. I was adjunct faculty at Whatcom Community College for 17 years until 2014. Several ugly nudges led me to ask to be let out of my contract for the 2014-15 year, and I didn’t give any reasons why. DEI didn’t have that name then, but I saw it coming. I KNEW my career was about to be sunk there if I spoke up, and as adjunct I had no power. I left before igniting the fire.

  24. Right on-- thank you, Cliff, for writing about one of the most important issues in public education today. Free speech must be promoted at the University of Washington in order for it to remain a great university. If not, then the public funds should be withdrawn. It's that serious.


Please make sure your comments are civil. Name calling and personal attacks are not appropriate.

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