(Caroline Cason, Headline USA) A University of Washington professor is suing the school for violating his freedom of speech after it punished him for refusing to include a politically controversial statement on “stolen land” in his class syllabi.
The Seattle-based school had urged Stuart Reges, a computer science and engineering professor, to include a Native American “land acknowledgment” that had nothing to do with his coursework, according to Fox News Digital.
“It was clear that they wanted a particular kind of land acknowledgment,” Reges said.
“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,” he 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.”
Instead, Reges wrote this into his syllabus: “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.”
According to his legal filing, the modified statment “challenged his students and fellow faculty to think about the utility and performative nature of land acknowledgment statements.”
After modifying the statement to one more in line with mainstream viewpoints, Reges allegedly faced disciplinary action, with university officials claiming a “disruption of instruction.”
That included opening of a “shadow” class taught by a different instructor and inviting his students to switch into the alternative class.
The school also opened an ongoing disciplinary case against Reges. According to the court documents, there has been a board formed to decide whether to continue to punish him or even eliminate him as a professor.
The school claims that it did not violate Reges’s freedom of speech but that he violated its policies as a university.