After a recent article on Dr. Asao Inoue, an associate professor in the School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences and director of the Writing Center was published on the UW Tacoma’s website – the campus and it’s writing center became a target.
The policy was picked apart by several conservative news sites such as the Daily Caller, Info Wars, Breitbart, and Heat Street – which was linked to Fox News, and even Dr. Inoue’s personal Twitter account has been targeted.
The UW Tacoma Writing Center posted an antiracist and social justice statement that aims to confront practices that are systemic throughout academia – particularly in the field of writing.
“The writing center works from several important beliefs that are crucial to helping writers write and succeed in a racist society. The racist conditions of our society are not simply a matter of bias or prejudice that some people hold. In fact, most racism, for instance, is not accomplished through intent. Racism is the normal condition of things,” the statement states.
The statement, posted visibly on the walls of the center, is also available online for everyone to read and was written by professional staff, tutors, and Dr. Inoue over the course of the year. The poster states that, “it informs our center’s practices and ongoing assessment efforts to improve our practices.”
Dr. Inoue had conveyed: “I understand the deep emotions that many out our university feel around these issues and so while troubling, and at times upsetting to me, I am trying very hard to be compassionate and understanding toward those who have been less so to me and the university. There has not been, to my knowledge, any explicit threats made by anyone. There have been many abusive and mean-spirited emails and phone calls, all of which stem from a fundamental misunderstanding of the statement.”
Later in the course of the week, an email was sent out to some faculty on campus from a “26-year Navy vet who’s FED UP with the rampant, America-hating PC (obscenity) on our college campuses,” in attempt to “legitimize the politically-correct bastardization of English,” as the Writing Center statement urges, “there is no inherent ‘standard’ of English,” and proceeded to use very profane language in response to various students voicing their concerns in regards to the issue.
The university responded days later with a news post on their website stating the “Statement on Anti-racist and Social Justice Work in the Writing Center has been repeatedly misrepresented by some issues-oriented blogs based in other states. These representations are completely inaccurate.”
As one point, the statement reads “Racism is pervasive. It is in the systems, structures, rules, languages, expectations, and guidelines that make up our classes, school, and society.” A Facebook group has created an online letter of support that is in essence recognizing the shared set of values the campus community holds along with shows support in the writing center’s policy.
Again, the response from UW Tacoma in regards to the issue is, “the term ‘racism’ in this context is not about people behaving badly; it is about helping students understand language as part of a larger cultural system.”
Senior Zakari Kaletka, and author of the article published on Dr. Inoue responded, “We need to address these threats and make it known that racism and other forms of oppression have no place here. We need the University to stand behind Dr. Inoue and show their support for his safety and his ideologies. Racism is far more than ‘bad behavior,’ it is violence and it is not a victim less ideology. Racism is killing people and if you choose to be a ‘moderate’ at this point in time, I’m inclined to say that you are moderately a white nationalist. As the famed Desmond Tutu quote goes: If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”
ASUWT President Berkan Koroglu had said that rather than looking at the negativity the articles and letters bring, we should look at how it brings the community together. “The support that was given to our own TLC Writing Center by numerous people and organizations only proves how this campus is able to unify. I want people to know that this is a strong community we have built together who will support each other unconditionally and this incident is an example of that. We as a campus support Dr. Inoue and the Writing Center’s statement.”
“I’ve been very encouraged by the university’s response to the false claims about our statement, the writing center, and our university. UW Tacoma has shown a deep commitment to inclusion and access for all our students. I’m proud to be a faculty here,” says Inoue.