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Rantz: Professors asked to push nutty progressive causes in UW Seattle diversity guide

The University of Washington. (Associated Press)

Acknowledge the University of Washington campus is on land stolen from Native Americans. Use gender-neutral, culturally diverse names in examples. Stop believing being overweight is unhealthy.

These are actual recommendations from a UW diversity document I discovered while talking with a professor who says he’s been demoted and placed on probation because the school administration disagrees with his libertarian political views. What’s worse, the administration seems willing to placate a group of hypersensitive, progressive activist-students and faculty seeking to purge opposing political viewpoints from campus.

Stuart Reges is a lecturer in the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering. After sustained pressure from campus progressives to get him fired, Reges was demoted to a one-year probationary appointment where he lost his primary duties.

“We’ve been trying to hire teaching faculty for years, and I am the only lecturer who hasn’t been reappointed for a three year period, which seems crazy,” Reges told the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH. “I’m also the most senior. I have the highest faculty rank, and I’m the only faculty member who has won the highest teaching award that the university has. So it just seems clear that there was something else going on in this vote.”

The something else seems clear to him and me: He’s a libertarian who doesn’t subscribe to the far left campus orthodoxy. And I think the proof is how the UW responded to absurd student complaints.

Reges says the UW created a working group of faculty members to review intro computer science courses to ensure they’re inclusive enough. The recommendations they drafted are remarkable.

Some are standard for progressive educators who think all students are incapable of dealing with common stresses of college life. They asked that grading standards be relaxed, demanded less time spent investigating students who cheat, and offer teacher’s assistants training in in inclusion and implicit bias.

But then it gets legitimate crazy. Writing for Quillette, Reges broke down one recommendation:

Review of all course materials for inclusiveness. For instance, of a lecture that involves calculating body mass index (BMI) using guidelines from the National Institutes of Health, the report noted that it ‘seems insensitive to present students with a program that would point out that some of them are ‘obese’ while others are ‘normal.’

“This is this theory that these young people are fragile egos, you know, we have to make sure never to make anyone feel bad,” Reges tells me. “I mean, these are government guidelines from the National Institutes of Health. I mean, I didn’t write this…”

Did these recommendations go anywhere or is it just a wish list of partisan ideologues? They went somewhere. A new group has been reportedly formed to implement these recommendations, but many of them are already being pushed on professors.

In December of 2018, the Paul G. Allen School published a draft of best practices to ensure classes are inclusive. The document covers everything from syllabus content to in-class suggestions.

The syllabus should include a “statement that your class welcomes all students of all backgrounds” because without one the implication might be that you’re not welcome? It also recommends the professor include an “Indigenous Land Acknowledgement” which alerts students that the UW sits on land that once belonged to Native Americans.

The diversity document says to use gender-neutral names when creating classroom examples (“instead of Alice and Bob, try Alex and Jun”) but also asks the names “reflect a variety of cultural backgrounds: Xin, Sergey, Naveena, Tuan, Esteban, Sasha…”

It also warns to never explain that being obese is unhealthy. They warn that you shouldn’t assume “that dieting and weight-loss are always good (problematic for the many college students with eating disorders).”

If at any point a student tells you they feel offended or uncomfortable, you should “respect their feelings even if you don’t fully understand their reasoning.” If their feelings are based in delusion, just go with it.

Does a student miss class due to an illness they made up so they could get out of a test? The documents suggests “instead of requiring a doctor’s note to excuse a missed assignment or quiz, allow a fixed number of no-penalty late days, or drop the lowest score across all quizzes.” This policy was recently promoted by the student government, where student activists claimed doctor’s notes are literally harmful.

The list goes on and on and one. Here are some more gems:

  • Avoid gender assumptions and terms. Avoid only using “he” in examples. Try replacing “you guys” with “folks,” “everyone,” or “ya’ll.” Try saying “all genders” instead of “men and women.”
  • Say your own pronouns and ask for pronouns when possible (in class and at office hours). This helps us avoid assuming gender, especially useful for trans* or non-binary students.
  • Avoid phrases that suggest something is simple and obvious, as it can alienate students with less background or who are struggling.  Examples include “of course,” “obviously,” “you probably already know,” “it’s easy,” etc.

When a college faculty group produces a document with these ideologically-driven, virtue signaling recommendations, there is no doubt that Reges is being punished for his political opinions. It seems they’re incompatible with the UW litmus test.

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3-6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here.

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