The University of Washington is under fire because of an alleged freedom of speech violation reported by one of their professors. The professor decided to sue the institution after reprimanding him for his take on a Native American land ownership debate.
The focus of the lawsuit is the disagreement between a respected member of the University of Washington’s educational staff and the university itself. This lawsuit is especially perplexing because the incident which sparked it stems directly from a request by the governing faculty to include a statement about the professor’s beliefs in regard to the ownership of the land on which the university resides.
Stuart Reges is an engineering and computer science professor at the University of Washington. He offered his opinion on the topic at the urging of the school. However, his take on the subject was met with harsh criticism from the university. His statement offended the University of Washington because he cited the “labor theory” introduced by John Locke. John Locke was a philosopher who created the Second Treatise on Government based on the labor theory of appropriation or a natural law theory.
The theory loosely translates some subject quoted from the Bible that basically states that when a person works the land, it becomes the individual’s property. The basis of the theory was that ownership of the land on which the university sits should be historically the property of Coast Salish people. This group of Native Indigenous people resides throughout British Columbia, the Pacific Northwest, and throughout the United States and Canada. Their native language is Coast Salish.
In order to give further insight into the professor’s opinion piece inserted into his syllabus, we can refer back to the Washington Law Review’s published article recognizing the ownership of the land where the University of Washington campus sits as their property by way of this labor theory. This stance was created and adopted by the Washington Law Review in conjunction with Professor Emeritus Bob Anderson.No more details are currently available regarding the lawsuit’s progress or any other parties involved in the dispute.