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Computer science lecturer sues Univ. of Wash. leaders over indigenous lands statement – GeekWire

Stuart Reges. (Your Photo)

A University of Washington lecturer is suing university leaders over his rights to free speech, claiming he was made “a pariah” for a statement he made about Pacific natives. Northwest in a syllabus for a computer science course.

UW’s computer science department suggests that teachers include a native ground recognition in the syllabi. Such recognitions are becoming more common at regional corporate and government events and publications.

Stuart Reges, a UW teaching professor at the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science, made his own statement for a Computer Programming II class this past winter, according to the lawsuit: “I acknowledge that by theory of working the property The people of the Salish Coast can historically own almost none of the land currently occupied by the University of Washington.

Allen School director Magdalena Balazinska – who has been named as a defendant – told Reges in an email to take the statement, according to the lawsuit, saying it was “inappropriate” and “hurtful.”

The case, filed by Reges and the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE), alleges university leaders discriminated against Reges by subjecting him to a disciplinary investigation after he insisted he had the right to keep the statement. UW is said to have also created a separate “shadow” class for students taught by another teacher.

Reges, who has been a professor at UW since 2004, had the first change to the right to free speech on the university campus, the lawsuit stated.

The Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering at the University of Washington. (Photo from Allen School)

The lawsuit aims to stop the alleged retaliation against Reges for his “protected academic speech” and to remove the UW policy governing faculty expression which it says is overroad and ambiguous because of the language that regulates “unacceptable or inappropriate ”speech and behavior.

The defendants in the lawsuit, filed in federal court in Seattle, are Balazinska, UW president Ana Mari Cauce, Allen School vice director Dan Grossman, and Nancy Allbritton, dean of the College of Engineering.

“The university administrators made me a pariah on campus because I included a land recognition that wasn’t progressive enough for them,” Reges said in a press release released Wednesday on FIRE, a nonprofit that supports free speech on campuses and everywhere. “Land acknowledgment is performative acts of conformity that should be resisted, even if you go to court,” Reges added.

UW is investigating the complaint, according to a spokesperson. “The university goes on to say that it has not violated Stuart Reges’ First Amendment rights and we look forward to making that case in court, ”the spokesperson said.

Allen School does not require instructors to provide land identification statements. But it does provide instructors with guidelines on best practices for inclusive teaching saying that such statements can make a syllabus more inclusive. The guidelines provide an example statement that teachers can follow:

“The University of Washington recognizes the people of the Salish Coast on this land, the land that touches the shared waters of all the tribes and bands within the states of Suquamish, Tulalip and Muckleshoot.”

Reges, who is not on a tenure track, said his statement reflects philosopher John Locke’s theory that property rights are built through work.

The controversy made headlines earlier this year. At the time, a UW spokesperson gave the following statement to Higher Ed:

“Commonly used land identities are not political statements about land acquisition or ownership nor expressions of personal views about land ownership, but statements of fact — the purpose. is to recognize that the university is located in the historic ancestral land of the people of Coast Salish. ”

Reges has been criticized for controversial statements in the past. In a 2018 essay she admitted that women are under -represented in computer science because of personal preferences and choices, and that “having 20% ​​women in technology is probably the best we can achieve. -ot. ”

The area around the University of Washington includes Arboretum Creek, where the Duwamish village Hikw’al’al (“Big House”) once stood. The UW campus also includes the Intellectual House (wǝɫǝbʔaltxʷ) which provides a gathering place for American Indian and Alaska Native students, faculty and staff.

Read the full text of the lawsuit below.

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