UW professor sues school over language in land recognition program – KIRO 7 News Seattle
A University of Washington professor is suing the school over allegations that UW silenced him in a free speech violation.
Computer science professor Stuart Reges faces disciplinary action for stating in his curriculum that Native Americans have no historic rights to campus land.
It’s common practice in the Pacific Northwest to recognize that the land here has been linked to Native Americans for millennia.
The UW campus itself could be considered part of this larger land recognition. In fact, the UW Libraries website posts the acknowledgment for anyone to read.
Reges, however, is challenging the university’s directive on land acknowledgment declaration with a lawsuit.
“I think I have a very strong case. I’m disappointed to come to this,” Reges said. “I think it’s important to make this fight.
“With land recognition, there was this idea that you had to assert a certain view of American history, a very cynical view that we stole land from Indian tribes. I thought I’d give it a try to see how they would react if I didn’t affirm that side of the story.
Court documents say university administrators punished Reges for her statement, saying she caused “a disruption in teaching.”
Documents also say the university created a parallel course to turn students away from its class and launched an investigation that has been dragging on for months.
This led Reges to file a lawsuit. His lawyers say UW has no right to control his opinion or his speech.
Reges said student complaints brought the issue to the university’s attention, although he was unsure if any of them were taking their course.
“I would have been very happy to discuss the theories of land ownership or why I do what I do on this larger issue of diversity, equity and inclusion, I just don’t have had students talk to me about it,” says Réges.
KIRO 7 contacted the university and a spokesperson issued the following statement on Reges’ lawsuit:
“The University of Washington is aware of the complaint. The university continues to assert that it did not violate the First Amendment rights of Stuart Reges and we look forward to presenting our position if called upon to do so. TO DO.
“It’s a larger program where they try to limit the opinions that can be expressed on campus,” Reges said.
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