02-19-2017  10:46 pm      •     

On May 20, 1968, a protest with far-reaching consequences occurred. Members of the Black Student Union staged a sit-in in the offices of University of Washington President Charles Odegaard. The sit-in did not result in arrests. Instead, the students left the office four hours and 15 minutes later with a series of agreements from the administration, including aggressive recruitment of minority and disadvantaged White students, the hiring of more staff and faculty of color, creation of a center on campus for the academic and cultural development of students of color, and the creation of a Black Studies department.
UW will commemorate 40 years of diversity efforts on the anniversary of the sit-in with an alumni and community celebration from noon to 5 p.m. in Red Square. The celebration is expected to draw representatives of 50 academic departments, as well as student organizations, which will talk about their own history of diversity. Ethnic food will be available and there will be music.
In 1968 only about four percent of the students at the UW were students of color; that compares with over 29 percent now. Of the 2,200 courses in 1968 in the arts and humanities, it was hard to identify a single course using a textbook written by a Black, Latino or Native American writer, according to Larry Gossett, King County Council member.
The creation of the Special Education Program (the precursor to today's Office of Minority Affairs and Diversity) in 1968, with a chief officer (vice president) reporting directly to the president, was unique for that time.
"The initial courageous act of a group of students in 1968 and the infrastructure that followed really changed the history of the university, the city, the state and the region in terms of diversity, access and leadership in the community," says Sheila Edwards Lange, vice president for minority affairs and vice provost for diversity.
The formal program begins at noon in the Walker-Ames Room of Kane Hall with a panel of former and current UW vice presidents for minority affairs and diversity, who will discuss the era, their legacy and the future. At 1:30 p.m., a panel of student leaders from different eras will discuss their perspectives on diversity. At 3:30 p.m. in Red Square, 900 students in the Educational Opportunity Program who have been named to the Dean's List in this academic year will be recognized. EOP students come from families of restricted means or have overcome educational challenges to qualify for admission to the UW. Presiding at this event will be UW President Mark Emmert and King County council member Larry Gossett, a member of the UW Black Student Union in 1968 and a co-chair of the 40 Year Celebration Community Advisory Committee. (The other co-chair is Samuel E. Kelley, UW professor emeritus and the UW's first vice president of minority affairs.)
An oral history of early diversity efforts is available on video at http://www.washington.edu/diversity/40Y. Titled "In Pursuit of Social Justice," it includes excerpts from interviews with 27 of people who were involved in the movement in 1968. More information on the celebration is at http://www.washington.edu/diversity/40Y.
—UW News


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  • WASHINGTON (AP) — One month after the inauguration, the stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue in front of Donald Trump's White House still is a hard-hat zone. Skeletal remains of the inaugural reviewing stands poke skyward. Random piles of plywood and cables are heaped on the ground inside crooked lines of metal fencing. The disarray outside the president's front door, though not his fault, serves as a metaphor for the tumult still unfolding inside. Four weeks in, the man who says he inherited "a mess" at home and abroad is presiding over a White House that is widely described as itself being a mess. At a stunning pace, Trump has riled world leaders and frustrated allies. He was dealt a bruising legal blow on one of his signature policies. He lost his national security adviser and his pick for labor secretary to scandal. He's seen forces within his government push back against his policies and leak confidential information. All of this has played out amid a steady drip of revelations about an FBI investigation into his campaign's contacts with Russian intelligence officials. Trump says his administration is running like a "fine-tuned machine." He points to the rising stock market and the devotion of his still-loyal supporters as evidence that all is well, although his job approval rating is much lower than that for prior presidents in their first weeks in office. Stung by the unrelenting criticism coming his way, Trump dismisses much of it as "fake news" delivered by "the enemy of the people" — aka the press. Daily denunciations of the media are just one of the new White House fixtures Americans are adjusting to. Most days start (and end) with presidential tweets riffing off of whatever's on TV talk shows or teasing coming events or hurling insults at the media. At some point in the day, count on Trump to cast back to the marvels of his upset of Democrat Hillary Clinton in the November election and quite possibly overstate his margins of support. Expect more denunciations of the "dishonest" press and its "fake news." From there, things can veer in unexpected directions as Trump offers up policy pronouncements or offhand remarks that leave even White House aides struggling to interpret them. The long-standing U.S. policy of seeking a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Trump this past week offered this cryptic pronouncement: "I'm looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like. I can live with either one." His U.N. ambassador, Nikki Haley, the next day insisted, "We absolutely support a two-state solution." Trump's days are busy. Outside groups troop in for "listening sessions." Foreign leaders call or come to visit. (Or, in the case of Mexico's president, cancel out in pique over Trump's talk about the planned border wall.) After the president signed two dozen executive actions, the White House was awaiting a rush order of more of the gold-plated Cross pens that Trump prefers to the chrome-plated ones used by his predecessor. Trump hands them out as souvenirs at the signing ceremonies that he points to as evidence of his ambitious pace. "This last month has represented an unprecedented degree of action on behalf of the great citizens of our country," Trump said at a Thursday news conference. "Again, I say it. There has never been a presidency that's done so much in such a short period of time." That's all music to the ears of his followers, who sent him to Washington to upend the established order and play the role of disrupter. "I can't believe there's actually a politician doing what he says he would do," says an approving Scott Hiltgen, a 66-year-old office furniture sales broker from River Falls, Wisconsin. "That never happens." Disrupt Trump has. But there may be more sound and fury than substance to many of his early actions. Trump did select Judge Neil Gorsuch to replace the late Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court, a nomination that has drawn strong reviews from conservatives. But the president is regrouping on immigration after federal judges blocked his order to suspend the United States' refugee program and ban visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries, which had caused chaos for travelers around the globe. Some other orders on issues such as the U.S.-Mexico border wall and former President Barack Obama's health care law are of limited effect. Trump says his early actions show he means to deliver on the promises he made during the campaign. "A lot of people say, 'Oh, oh, Trump was only kidding with the wall,'" the president told a group of police chiefs recently. "I wasn't kidding. I don't kid." But the Republican-led Congress is still waiting to see specifics on how Trump wants to proceed legislatively on top initiatives such as replacing the health care law, enacting tax cuts and revising trade deals. The messy rollout of the travel ban and tumult over the ouster of national security adviser Michael Flynn for misrepresenting his contacts with Russia are part of a broader state of disarray as different figures in Trump's White House jockey for power and leaks reveal internal discord in the machinations of the presidency. "I thought by now you'd at least hear the outlines of domestic legislation like tax cuts," says Princeton historian Julian Zelizer. "But a lot of that has slowed. Trump shouldn't mistake the fact that some of his supporters like his style with the fact that a lot of Republicans just want the policies he promised them. He has to deliver that." Put Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in the camp of those more interested in substance than style. "I'm not a great fan of daily tweets," McConnell said Friday, referring to the "extra discussion" that Trump likes to engage in. But McConnell was quick to add: "What I am a fan of is what he's been actually doing." He credits Trump with assembling a conservative Cabinet and taking steps to reduce government regulation, and promised: "We like his positions and we're going to pursue them as vigorously as we can." The challenge may be to tease out exactly what Trump wants in the way of a health care plan, tax changes and trade policy. At his long and defiant news conference on Thursday, Trump tried to dispel the impression of a White House in crisis, squarely blaming the press for keeping him from moving forward more decisively on his agenda. Pointing to his chief of staff, Reince Priebus, Trump said, "You take a look at Reince, he's working so hard just putting out fires that are fake fires. I mean, they're fake. They're not true. And isn't that a shame because he'd rather be working on health care, he'd rather be working on tax reform." For all the frustrations of his early days as president, Trump still seems tickled by the trappings of his office. When New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie visited the White House last week to discuss the national opioid epidemic over lunch, the governor said Trump informed him: "Chris, you and I are going to have the meatloaf.'" Trump added: "I'm telling you, the meatloaf is fabulous." ___Follow Nancy Benac on Twitter at http://twitter.com/nbenac
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