Campus Reform | Professor endures 9 months of investigation for objecting to segregated diversity training: report

Professor endures 9 months of investigation for objecting to segregated diversity training: report

Professor Elisa Parrett objected during a mandatory, segregated training for white faculty. She claimed that it presented "false dichotomies" that divide people unnecessarily.

After nine months of investigation, interviews, and research - including by a private investigator - Parrett was given a written reprimand.

Lake Washington Institute of Technology allegedly barred a tenured professor from the classroom and investigated her for nine months because she spoke out against anti-racism training, according to a recent report from Reason. 

Ironically, the training was called "courageous conversations." 

On June 19, 2020, Lake Washington Institute of Technology in Kirkland, Washington held a mandatory anti-racist training event for roughly 200 White faculty members. During the event, Elisa Parrett spoke up and read a prepared statement in opposition to the training's segregated environment, over the objection (three minutes in) of the event leader. 

She reportedly said: 

"They are telling us that all people may be classified into two sides: us or them, Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative, people of color or white, righteous or bigoted, oppressed or privileged. I don't accept such false dichotomies, and I don't accept the ad hominem implications that come with it. Too often, words like 'privileged,' 'defensive,' and 'fragile' are just ways to dismiss what another person has to say."

[RELATED: Prof claims he was threatened with Title IX investigation, pushed out over transgender comments]

President Amy Morrison placed Parrett on paid leave and kicked her out of her college email account. Then, she sent a school-wide email containing a 1,600-word message against Parrett. The school contracted with an outside law firm to investigate the incident, and the law firm presented the school with more than 100 pages of a private investigator's draft report. The school also compiled more than 100 pages of interview notes and written communications from other faculty members.

Professor Phil Snider, one of Parrett's colleagues and her lone outspoken ally, estimates that the total cost of the investigation, plus finding new faculty to take over Parrett's classes, plus the time spent by school employees on the investigation, may approach $250,000. According to the school's most recent tuition and fees schedule, $250,000 would be enough to send 88 in-state, full-time students to the school for a year.

[RELATED: University pays $12,750 for author of ‘White Fragility’ to speak on campus, pays Black speaker thousands less]

Since speaking out during the anti-racist event, Parrett has become even more of a target for her political views. Parrett and her husband attended the January 6th event in Washington, D.C. that devolved into chaos and destruction at the U.S. Capitol. In her retelling of the event, she describes her motivation to attend as a desire "to march for due process and electoral transparency, because we believe in lawful governance and that everyone, regardless of who they are, deserves their day in court." Parrett claims that they walked up the steps of the Capitol but left when men with bullhorns started yelling to the crowd in order to incite violence. 

After nine months and untold spending by the school, Parrett learned her fate. She received a written reprimand and a requirement to "not interrupt or undermine" future anti-racism efforts at the school. 

A spokesperson for Lake Washington Institute of Technology told Campus Reform that, 

"The college has spent a significant amount of time and resources to build a college community that is based on, and anchored in, our values of respect, collaboration, and inclusion...While the college supports open debate and academic freedom, it does not support or condone disruption of college-wide professional development opportunities that undermine the strategic mission of the college."

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @AngelaLMorabito