In the fall of 2021, the University of Washington’s Computer Science department asked professors to put a land acknowledgment in their syllabi. They wanted the syllabi to acknowledge that the land of the college campus once belonged to Native American tribes.
Professor Stuart Reges defied the request and instead 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.”
University administrators were quick to respond. They called the statement “offensive” and removed it from Professor Reges’s syllabus. The university also gave students the option to switch out of Professor Reges’s class.
In the spring of 2022, Professor Reges stated his intention to put the acknowledgment back on his syllabus. Administrators opened an investigation against him for alleged violations of university anti-harassment policies. The investigation is ongoing and could result in his termination.
In July 2022, Professor Reges sued the University of Washington, claiming that the University violated his First Amendment rights by using an overly broad harassment policy to retaliate against him.