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Back to the Closet
By Laurie Higgins
Progressives are Punishing a Gay Professor for Stating the Obvious
Progressives, drunk on cultural power and sanctimony, steeped in vapid ideology, and patinated in faux-fragility demonstrate that history does, indeed, repeat itself as the political left again become oppressors.
The most recent demonstration of leftist tyranny comes from the University of Washington (UW) where Stuart Reges, an openly homosexual lecturer in the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science and Engineering, is being hounded out of his 15-year job by students, colleagues, and administrators who have no understanding of the critical importance of First Amendment protections to a healthy body politic.
The saga began in June of 2018 when Quillette, an online “platform for free ideas,” whose female founders “respect ideas, even dangerous ones” and “believe that free expression and the free exchange of ideas help human societies flourish and progress,” published an article by Reges titled, “Why Women Don’t Code.”
His article, inspired by the firing of James Damore by Google for the offense of writing an inter-office memo on, inter alia, the disparity in numbers between men and women and the absence of intellectual diversity at Google, addressed similar problems within academia, including the enraged responses to his pleas merely to discuss diverse views on diversity.
In this first article for Quillette, Reges established both his academic credibility as well as his bona fides regarding his commitment to fostering a love of computer science in young women. Then he addressed three professionally perilous topics:
– Reges argued there are, broadly speaking, two different approaches to advancing workplace “diversity,” one of which is the “equality agenda” that seeks to remove “artificial barriers.” He calls the other approach the “equity agenda,” which “involves a commitment to righting the wrongs of the past. Political and religious diversity are not on their list because they don’t represent the immutable characteristics previously used to justify discrimination.”
– The equity agenda’s view of “inclusion often demands the exclusion of ideas and opinions.”
– Reges next stated what should be a commonplace observation: men and women are different. Instead, that observation was met with howls of outrage from those who ironically argue that in order to attract more women into the computer science field, the field must change in ways that will attract women—who, they claim from the other side of their mouths—are no different from men.
– Finally, Reges argued—with evidence—that there are complicated reasons for the male-female disparity in the field of computer science, among which are innate inclinations and free choice.
Jordan Peterson, 2018 cultural mega-star, then tweeted about Reges’ article, which put Reges on the radar of the faux-fragile and sanctimonious, including students and colleagues at his own school and in his own department. Since, Reges had a three-year appointment, the intolerant had to wait until December 2019 when his appointment expired to exact revenge, and exact it they did. In another article published January 11, 2020, Reges reported the following:
I was stripped of my primary teaching duties and given a highly unusual one-year probationary appointment. … In the 15 years I have been part of the school, I am the first regular lecturer to be offered less than a three-year extension. … The one-year reappointment is also odd given my faculty rank. I was the first lecturer in the College of Engineering at UW to be promoted to the rank of principal lecturer. The faculty code indicates that the normal period for reappointment for a principal lecturer should be at least three years. The administration had to obtain special permission from the provost to make such a short appointment. It is also perhaps worth noting that I am the only current member of the faculty in the Allen School who has won the Distinguished Teaching Award, which is the highest award given for teaching at UW.
At least as troubling was the response from a group of graduate students who filed a grievance against Reges with the Union of Academic Student Employees and Post Docs at the University of Washington (UAW) and then concocted recommendations that reveal their puerility:
– A relaxation of grading on coding style.
– Allowing students to work together in a group for part of their grade instead of requiring them to complete all graded work individually.
– Training for TAs in inclusion and implicit bias.
– Review of all course materials for inclusiveness. For instance, of a lecture that involves calculating body mass index (BMI) using guidelines from the National Institutes of Health, the report noted that it “seems insensitive to present students with a program that would print out that some of them are ‘obese’ while others are ‘normal.’”
– A reduction in the amount of effort expended pursuing cheating cases by 50 percent even though there has been no reduction in cheating cases.
These graduate students also recommended “that courses incorporate inclusiveness best practices as outlined in an Allen School document,” including these:
– The addition of an indigenous land acknowledgement to the syllabus.
– The use of gender-neutral names like Alex and Jun instead of Alice and Bob.
– The use of names that reflect a variety of cultural backgrounds: Xin, Sergey, Naveena, Tuan, Esteban, Sasha.
– An avoidance of references that depend on cultural knowledge of sports, pop culture, theater, literature, or games.
– The replacement of phrases like “you guys” with “folks” or “y’all.”
– A declaration of instructors’ pronouns and a request for students’ pronoun preferences.
Puerility and Newspeak come to academia.
To illustrate the “mob mentality” among students and administrators, who seem to believe the ends of destroying the career of Reges justify hasty judgments, incuriosity, and deceit, Reges tells the story of an anti-affirmative action campus bake sale he attended:
The UW College Republicans organized an affirmative action bake sale, at which cookies were sold to Asians for $1.50, to whites for $1, and to African Americans and Hispanics for 50 cents. Cookies were free to Native Americans.
I attended the event to see how it was received and ended up having an hour-long conversation with a young woman about race relations on campus…
The Stranger published an article about the event which included photographs of my interactions with the young woman. I was quoted as saying, “I don’t see racism on campus.” … But, as footage of our exchange captured by a local news team later confirmed, what I actually said was “I don’t see rampant racism on campus.” A small but important difference between a denial of ongoing racism and a disagreement about its prevalence.
The day after the article in the Stranger appeared, I received a message from the director of the Allen School which included this:
…in my opinion, this is not about freedom of speech, and it’s also not about affirmative action…This is about your lack of sensitivity to minority students and your continued (and almost gleeful) denial of their experiences, which I find extremely regrettable and disappointing coming from somebody of your stature and experience.
[The director] later told me that his judgment was based entirely on the misreported quote. He didn’t ask me what had happened. He didn’t ask if the quote was accurate. He simply concluded that I was insensitive to minority students. How he decided that I was “almost gleeful” is beyond me, but it indicates a reflexive disapproval among some my colleagues since the publication of my Quillette essay.
So far, the oppressors have failed to break or even bend Reges. He has since “joined Heterodox Academy” and “attended the 2019 Heterodox Academy Conference and the 2018 faculty conference for the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE).” Reges won’t acquiesce to the oppressors because he understands what’s at stake. Perhaps his warning will strengthen the spines of conservative students, teachers, and administrators:
Today, the people on campus who need to worry about expressing their ideas are conservatives and religious people. Now it is gays doing the punishing of anyone who opposes gay marriage, gay adoption, hate speech codes, and civil rights protection for gays. Everything old is new again. I’m once again having private conversations behind closed doors in my office with closeted individuals, but this time they are students, faculty, staff, and alumni who oppose the equity agenda. They are deeply concerned about the university’s direction, but they are also afraid of jeopardizing their current or future job prospects. They also worry about losing friendships and professional relationships. One faculty colleague described it as “mob rule.” … I am concerned that people believe free speech is improving on college campuses when in fact things are getting worse. We have fewer overt examples of speakers being shouted down and disinvited, but now the censorship is going underground. Those who talk to me behind closed doors censor themselves because they know the consequences of speaking up.
If every conservative would speak up, the oppressors would lose.