Student protesters want to replace oppressive 'history' with 'hxstory'
Student activists at Western Washington University (WWU) have started a petition demanding the creation of a new college dedicated to social justice, resources to learn alternate histories, compensation for harassed students, a student committee to police offensive speech, and culturally segregated living arrangements.
The petition, drafted by the Student Assembly for Power and Liberation (SAPL), has been signed by 494 students as of press time.
“[W]e cannot count on the University to follow through for hxstorically [sic] oppressed students. These demands come out of a long hxstory of oppression played out at all levels of schooling,” the demand states.
SAPL says that the reason for these demands is to combat the oppression that is, “upheld through this institution, as it was created to uphold white supremacy at its core.”
Their first demand is for the creation of the College of Power and Liberation that will require hiring ten tenure track professors which students will have active participation in the interview process.
“[S]tudents must have power in deciding what subject areas and [what] professors can teach at the college,” the petition says.
The second demand calls for students and faculty who are committed to confronting racism, misogyny, trans- and homophobia on the campus, to be compensated for doing decolonizing work.
Such work includes, but is not limited to, “Providing space and resources to learn alternate histories, supporting student's non academic work, emotional and intellectual labor that is not about publishing or service to the institution, providing often unrecognized trainings, workshops, and/or interventions on behalf of students.”
The third demand is for a “15 persxn [sic] paid student committee,” that will, “monitor, document, and archive all racist, anti-black, transphobic, cissexist, misogynistic, ablest [sic], homophobic, islamophobic, and otherwise oppressive behavior on campus.”
This paid student committee will implement a “three strike” disciplinary system that all students and faculty will be subject to. Tenured faculty could be fired for conducting an unsafe classroom environment due to “oppressive behaviors.”
SAPL further demands the creation of a multicultural residence building to “celebrate student’s different identities and to give us a chance to live together in order to build a community and connections.”
The final demand says that any WWU student who has been, “targeted by, harassed by, or has experienced excruciating acts of violence that was racialized, sexualized, gendered, based on ability, employment status, citizenship and/or mental health from the University,” must be compensated by the university through tuition reimbursements.
“When Western begins to make phony excuses and resist needed changes, we will be forced to look at Western as an enemy to Black [sic] and non-white people and, [sic] act accordingly. In short, there will be political consequences for political mistakes,” SAPL says.
The petition demanded action by March 1, but as of press time, no action has apparently been taken.
SAPL’s Facebook page posted an email that university president Bruce Shepard wrote to the Associated Students of WWU in which he says that, “[W]hile I bring the matter to your attention, I am not requesting any particular actions.”
“Using highly politicized rhetoric, he attempted to claim that hxstorically [sic] marginalized students are getting their needs met by his ‘Task Forces’, the very Task Forces we have clearly named as not only ineffective, but also enforcers of the same forms of oppression manifested in the University,” SAPL says about Shepard's email.
Despite having over 400 signatures, the top comment on their petition page calls the list of demands, “Absolute rubbish.”
“It ashamed me as an alumni (class of 2012) to see my alma mater descend into such a liberal authoritarian wasteland. Do yourselves a favor and go travel, you may just see how lucky you are to be at university in the United States,” the comment says.
Campus Reform has reached out to representatives of WWU as well as SAPL but have not received a reply by press time.
Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @brianledtke