Dori: In `fight for the soul of UW,’ vote on diversity statement requirement for UW faculty fails

Jul 8, 2022, 4:44 PM
(Photo by Karen Ducey/Getty Images)...
(Photo by Karen Ducey/Getty Images)
(Photo by Karen Ducey/Getty Images)

A faculty vote that would have required University of Washington professors seeking tenure or advancement to sign a statement supporting a uniform diversity, equity, and inclusion statement has failed – and at least one conservative professor calls the vote itself “a fight for the soul of UW.”

UW Professor of Atmospheric Science Cliff Mass told Friday’s Dori Monson Show listeners that the ballot issue earlier this month needed at least a two-thirds majority to pass. Instead, the employment requirement statement failed when nearly 40% of faculty either rejected it or abstained.

“If you wanted to be a full professor or advance in any way,” Mass told Dori, “the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion statement would have been a requirement. It also required faculty seeking advancement “demonstrate their progress” toward the signed commitment.”

On Dori’s show and in his own July 7 blog, Mass called this a “big agenda among some of the activist faculty and administrators.”

But instead of breaking down between liberal and conservative lines, Mass explained, the vote failed for an entirely different reason.

“The opposition was based on a strong belief that faculty should never be forced to subscribe to a certain political viewpoint,” Mass wrote.

In fact, Mass told Dori, many opponents considered the proposal “compelled speech – which is probably illegal.”

The professor compared this vote to anti-Community loyalty oaths that faculties were pressured to sign in the 1950s. Back then, he told Dori, “Some faculty got fired when they refused to do this. . . It was wrong then and it would have been wrong now if we did it again.”

In his blog, which tends to cover his expertise in weather issues, Mass called the vote “a fight for the soul of the UW.”

While faculty members who have already earned tenure might not have been as affected by this proposal, Mass said, voters reflected “a variety of political backgrounds. Generally, the faculty here are fairly left-leaning, I can assure you of that.”

But even those who are “left leaning in terms of their politics realized that this is wrong and against the essential American values of freedom of speech,” the professor explained.

Despite this vote’s outcome, Mass said, “This battle is not over. People who are listening to this – you have power. If people talk to the University of Washington folks (like the), many people are trying to send their kids here, I think it’s important that people make it clear from the outside that the University is the university of everyone in this state and that it can’t be politicized, and we all lose if it does it.”

Listen to Dori Monson weekday afternoons from noon – 3 p.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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Dori: In `fight for the soul of UW,’ vote on diversity statement requirement for UW faculty fails