Rantz: UW administrator goes to war over Seattle professor’s hilarious land acknowledgment joke

Jan 9, 2022, 6:00 PM | Updated: Jan 10, 2022, 7:30 am
(Image: Jason Rantz)
(Image: Jason Rantz)

Left-wing administrator Magdalena Balazinska (she/her/hers) censored the syllabus of a professor at the University of Washington. She claims it’s so offensive that she had to censor it. But that’s not all.

Award-winning computer science professor Stuart Reges rejects the UW’s far-left political agenda. And he used his land acknowledgment to mock the meaningless virtue signal.

“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,” Reges wrote.

Balazinska emailed students to apologize for the “offensive” land acknowledgment and said it was removed from the syllabus.

She claimed the professor’s land acknowledgment note was “offensive” because it did not properly pretend to be offended by teaching on land the administration pretends was stolen from Native Americans. She even went so far as to offer a course to compete with the course offered by Reges.

Now, Reges is speaking out.

The ‘offensive’ land acknowledgment

With the encouragement of the progressive UW administration, woke professors include land acknowledgments in their syllabi.

Land acknowledgments are notes meant to feign anger and hurt for existing on supposedly stolen land. It’s intended to present professors as sensitive and virtuous while teaching young adults to hate the country.

When white people add these notes, it is to express their progressive bona fides. But it also suggests they’re historically illiterate (or too partisan to care about accuracy). They pretend various groups and tribes did not displace one another. It was only the evil white man responsible.

Of course, none of these professors teaching on “stolen land” will give up their six-figure salaries. They’ll just offer a note to selectively acknowledge past sins.

UW students, staff pretend to be upset over land acknowledgment trolling

When students, staff, and random social justice warriors on Twitter saw Reges’ land acknowledgment, they immediately pretended to be offended. Other basement dwellers took to Reddit to whine.

They needed the world to know that, yet again, their feelings were hurt. And you better pretend to be outraged too, or you may not proudly call yourself a progressive any longer.

Although relatively few people even read the land acknowledgment, the UW took swift action. At the UW, you better feel bad for not stealing the land you’re teaching on or you will pay a price.

“[UW administration] encouraged faculty in my college to make such statements on our syllabus,” Reges told the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH. “But they don’t really believe that. They don’t want you to say what you really believe about the land in relationship to the Native Americans. They want you to say their version of it. And if you’re not willing to say their version of it, they won’t let you say anything at all.”

The apology performance and petty response

Balazinska (she/her/hers) is the director of the Paul G. Allen (he/him/his) School of Computer Science & Engineering. She emailed students to apologize for the land acknowledgment.

“Yesterday, it was brought to my attention that the CSE 143 syllabus contained an offensive statement under the heading of ‘Indigenous Land Acknowledgment,'” Balazinska wrote. “I apologize for that. It is extremely important to me and other faculty in the Allen School that CSE 143, and all our classes, be inclusive environments.”

Initially, the syllabus was removed. When students tried to visit it online, they received a message: “Note: The course syllabus has been temporarily removed due to offensive statements. We apologize for the inconvenience.”

“We have now updated the course syllabus to remove the statement,” Balazinska (she/her/hers) said in her Censorship Acknowledgment.

Reges says the note has been replaced with white space to blank it out. And then, not so subtly, she encouraged students to file complaints if they ever want to pretend to feel disrespected again.

“In spite of this incident, I would like to assure everyone that they can expect to be treated fairly and respectfully in this class. If anyone has experiences to the contrary, I encourage you to submit a complaint. … These complaints are taken very seriously,” she wrote, before offering different spaces to complain about a professor with views you don’t like.

If this wasn’t petty and vindictive enough, Balazinska announced a new course to compete with Reges.

Vindictive 101

Reges forwarded the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH an email Balazinska (she/her/hers) sent to students. She opened up the same course, with another professor, to compete with Reges.

“We are opening a new offering of CSE 143, which will run independently of the current course with a different instructor. This course offering will have one lecture section, meeting 2:30-3:20 on MWF on the time schedule. However, lectures will be pre-recorded (from Fall 2021) with the lecture time being used for synchronous Q&A. Therefore, time conflicts will be waived if necessary. The course will start remote, but we are looking for a classroom,” she wrote.

She notes that students don’t have to drop the Reges course, but apologized for the “very short timeframe, but we have limited time to launch this offering. It is your choice whether you wish to switch.”

Reges says the new course is offered at the same time as his own.

What’s so offensive?

In an email to the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH, Balazinska (she/her/hers) says the land acknowledgment note “created a significant disruption to the academic purpose of the course.” She did not explain what the disruption was. She also condemned the note as “inappropriate, offensive and not relevant to the content of the course he teaches.”

“The invocation of Locke’s labor theory of property dehumanizes and demeans Indigenous people and is contrary to the long-standing relationship and respect the UW has with and for the Coast Salish peoples and the federally recognized tribes within the state of Washington,” Balazinska said via email.

She refused, however, to explain how a traditional land acknowledgment was relevant to the content of any computer science course. But it seems clear that the issue she took with the land acknowledgment offered by Reges is that it offers an opinion she disagrees with.

“Reges can and has expressed personal views with which the Allen School and the UW profoundly disagree on other platforms. However, a syllabus is not the appropriate place to express personal views unrelated to the course he is teaching,” Balazinska (she/her/hers) noted.

I asked Balazinska (she/her/hers) if the Allen School and the university have a set of political beliefs, given she cites both as having a profound disagreement with Reges. I also asked who determines what content is deemed offensive.

“I appreciate your interest in this topic, but I have nothing to add to the response I have already provided,” she responded.

Censorship like this is dangerous and confirms the bias

Balazinska (she/her/hers) took the extraordinary step of censoring a professor, without any regard to academic freedom nor how that kind of abuse of power could be used against her in the future.

Are there rules governing Reges’ content? Who is the arbiter of what is determined to be offensive? Balazinska refuses to answer most likely because it would further confirm what we already know: The UW, like so many other colleges, are filled with left-wing partisans who do not seek to teach. They seek to indoctrinate.

There is a danger in one person — or a group of people — using a political lens to determine whether or not something is offensive enough to be censored, particularly at a state-run school. If conservatives had control over these standards, would Balazinska (she/her/hers) be offended if they banned personal pronouns from email signatures meant purely to signal one’s virtue?

Reges said he added his snarky land acknowledgment to make a point about the lack of ideological diversity at the UW. He believes it’s a way to tell students that a course will be taught by a progressive.

“It’s a way of establishing [that] this is a course in which progressive ideology dominates,” Reges said. “There’s a whole lot going on at our university — at all the universities these days — to move in this direction of diversity, equity, and inclusion. But here’s the funny thing. For example, one of the questions I keep asking is, ‘Do you want to include conservatives? Do you want to include people who have different ideas than your own?’ And they keep saying that what inclusion means is that people like me have to be silenced so that we don’t upset people that they care more about.”

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Rantz: UW administrator goes to war over Seattle professor’s hilarious land acknowledgment joke