Olympia – Several lawmakers signed on to a letter with House Higher Education Committee Vice-Chair Rep. Gerry Pollet (D-Seattle), asking Washington State University to take concrete action to stand up to hate on campus.
Citing disturbing news reports that the outgoing President of the WSU College Republicans engaged in unabashed hate speech while in Charlottesville, Virginia, and on campus, along with ongoing concerns about troubling actions taken by the organizations’ members, Pollet and other legislators are asking WSU to remove official sanction and resources from the WSU College Republicans as a Registered Student Organization.
“What message is sent if one of our two public research universities continues to provide official sanction for this club? WSU is a major state employer and is giving rein to a club that creates a hostile work environment for staff and a hostile learning environment for students” said Pollet.
Legislators are asking WSU to withdraw official recognition and support for the organization unless clear steps were taken to address how to handle hate speech on campus, including clear standards to ensure student organizations don’t contribute to a hostile climate for others on campus.
The letter expresses appreciation for public statements and trainings, and makes clear these should only be the first steps to respond to hate and ensure the campus gives every student the opportunity to learn.
Further, lawmakers ask that WSU take steps to address institutional racism and hostility felt by students and staff.
“This is not a question of free speech on campus,” Pollet said. “The students are free to voice their views with the same access to campus as anyone else. Speech becomes action when people are injured and when other hostile actions are encouraged”
Other legislators that signed on to the letter are Rep. Cindy Ryu, Rep. Sharon Tomiko Santos, Rep. John Lovick, Sen. Kevin Ranker, Rep. Derek Stanford, Rep. Sherry Appleton, Sen. Lisa Wellman, Sen. Maralyn Chase, Rep. Lilian Ortiz-Self, Rep. Mike Sells, and Rep. Beth Doglio.