Campus Reform | WATCH: Professor defends his controversial land acknowledgment statement after campus-wide backlash

WATCH: Professor defends his controversial land acknowledgment statement after campus-wide backlash

Campus Reform Reporter Alexa Schwerha spoke with Stuart Reges, a lecturer at the University of Washington, who recently caused controversy by publishing a land acknowledgment statement on his syllabus.

Campus Reform Reporter Alexa Schwerha spoke with Stuart Reges, a lecturer at the University of Washington and Campus Reform Faculty Contributor who recently caused controversy by publishing a land acknowledgment statement on his syllabus that reportedly garnered a "horrified" reaction on campus. 

In an effort to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion at the university, the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science mandated all faculty include a land acknowledgment statement in their classroom syllabus. 

Reges, who disagreed with the policy, included his own text, which deviated from the university-approved statement. He wrote: 

"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."

"They freaked out," Reges said of the university. "They removed my syllabus, they erased that part of the syllabus, they apologized to the students, and they set up an alternative section of the course so that students who were so offended by me could switch into a different version of the course."

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education filed a letter in support of Reges, declaring that the university is obligated to uphold professors' right to free speech and cannot participate in viewpoint discrimination. 

"UW is free to encourage its faculty to include land acknowledgment statements in their syllabi, and even to suggest examples, but it may not mandate that they either use only approved statements or remain silent on the issue," FIRE stated in a press release.

When asked about the impact the letter will have on the university, Reges responded, "My ideal would be that we just get rid of land acknowledgments, and on all of the syllabi across campus."

"That would be my preference, but at least make it clear that you can't favor one ideology over another," he added. 

Reges expands on the backlash that has occurred since he published his statement, making him one more professor to face the uphill battle of campus cancel culture.

Watch the full interview above. 

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