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Wisconsin legislators target UW-Madison course on ‘Problem of Whiteness’

A pair of Republican state legislators in Wisconsin have said that how the University of Wisconsin-Madison “handles the controversy” over its course “The Problem of Whiteness” could determine the future of its funding.

The Wisconsin State Journal reports Representative Dave Murphy and Senator Steve Nass said the coming spring course could affect UW’s outlays in the 2017-2019 budget.

“The state has a lot of different priorities when it comes to funding things,” Murphy said. “Is funding a course that’s about ‘The Problem of Whiteness’ … a high priority? I’ve got a feeling it’s not.”

Murphy went further, saying the university should cancel the class outright and fire its professor, Damon Sajnani, for “condon[ing] violence against police officers.”

From the article:

[…] the controversy escalated Tuesday when Murphy also drew attention to tweets from the course’s instructor, professor Damon Sajnani, in a news release.

In one tweet, posted the night last July when five police officers were killed by a gunman in Dallas, Sajnani included a photo of news coverage of the shooting and wrote, “Is the uprising finally starting? Is this style of protest gonna go viral?”

In another from the same night, Sajnani linked to a song called “Officer Down” and wrote, “Watching CNN, this is the song I am currently enjoying in my head.”

Murphy said Sajnani should be fired for the “vile” tweets.

“If UW-Madison stands with this professor, I don’t know how the university can expect the taxpayers to stand with UW-Madison,” Murphy said.

In response to Murphy’s criticism and his call for Sajnani to be dismissed, UW-Madison provided a statement from Provost Sarah Mangelsdorf that said the university “supports the First Amendment rights of its students, faculty and staff, including their use of social media tools to express their views on race, politics or other topics, in their capacity as a private citizen.

Mangelsdorf added that such comments by Sajnani are “not consistent with our values.”

In response to some UW professors blasting the legislators’ criticisms, Murphy noted that “taxpayers, and by extension lawmakers, should have a voice in how their money is spent at public universities.”

“We have freedom of speech, but that doesn’t mean there’s freedom from consequences,” he said.

Read the full story.

MORE: University offers class on ‘The Problem of Whiteness’

MORE: University’s ‘Whiteness Forum’ takes ‘critical look at whiteness’

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