I sent the following email to the AAUP mailing list at UW:
From email@example.com Fri Mar 18 05:57:46 2022 Date: Fri, 18 Mar 2022 05:57:46 -0700 (PDT) From: Stuart Reges <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com Subject: land acknowledgment controversy The Wall Street Journal has an article in today's paper about the issue of land acknowledgments and how it has raised free speech issues at various university campuses. It focuses both on the issue of compelled speech when land acknowledgments are mandatory and the issue of free speech in terms of what kind of land acknowledgments will be allowed. The latter issue is relevant to me as the university has started the process of disciplining me for including my version of the land acknowledgment on my class syllabus this quarter. The article is available here: https://www.wsj.com/articles/college-statements-recognizing-stolen-native-american-land-spark-pushback-11647604865 --Stuart Reges, Teaching Professor, Computer Science & Engineering https://homes.cs.washington.edu/~reges/ 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 didn't allow this message to go through, but at least this time they told me why. A moderator wrote to me the following:
Dear Professor Reges, Thank you for your continued engagement with our mailing list. I think all AAUP-UW members are interested to know more about free speech and academic freedom and how this intersects with requirements for curriculum and syllabi. Furthermore, the Faculty Senate has been hard at work on revisions to the faculty discipline process and your experience with it could help improve the process for everyone. However, I find your email footer deeply disrespectful to our Native American colleagues and incompatible with the culture of collegiality that I wish to maintain as moderator of the AAUP mailing list. Also by ending your message with this aggressive, trolling conclusion, I believe that you prevent valuable discussion on this issue. I am not willing to publish your message with this footer included.
This verifies what I have suspected for the last six months, that they have used my land acknowledgment as a reason to censor most of my messages. It is worth noting that other AAUP contributors include their own version of a land acknowledgment. Below are two examples of text that other contributors have included with their email signature.
I replied to the email from the moderator with the following.
One of the principles of first amendment jurisprudence is that you are allowed to place reasonable constraints on speech as long as you do it in a content neutral way. If you want to ban all land acknowledgments, that would satisfy the requirement that it be content neutral. But if you allow some land acknowledgments and not others, then you are discriminating based on content. It seems to me that you are doing exactly that by allowing others to include their version of a land acknowledgment but denying me the ability to do the same. I don't know whether the AAUP mailing list has a legal obligation to uphold the first amendment protections on speech, but I certainly think it has a moral obligation to do so, especially given that one of the primary goals of the organization has historically been to preserve academic freedom. I'm deeply disappointed that you have chosen this path. I am not willing to self-censor my submissions to satisfy your prejudices. I encourage you to reconsider this policy. --Stuart Reges, Teaching Professor, Computer Science & Engineering https://homes.cs.washington.edu/~reges/ 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.