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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Sen. Michael Baumgartner says some WSU professors canceled classes to protest Trump win

A Spokane lawmaker is demanding state universities and colleges report whether any professors canceled classes to protest Donald Trump’s election.

Republican Sen. Mike Baumgartner said Friday he has received “multiple” calls and emails from parents and students saying some classes at Washington State University were canceled this week after the election, either in protest or “mourning” for a Trump victory. That’s a waste of taxpayers’ money, he said.

He said he doesn’t know how many or for what courses.

Rob Strenge, a WSU spokesman, said he hadn’t heard of any such cancellations, but that university officials will look into it. Classes and administrator offices were closed Friday for Veterans Day.

Professor A.G. Rud, WSU’s Faculty Senate chairman, said he doesn’t think it would be proper to cancel class because of the result of an election, but he’s not aware of that happening, either this week or in the past.

“I didn’t hear of anything like that,” Rud said. “It may have happened. I’ve never heard of people canceling class because of an election.”

Baumgartner, who’s vice chairman of the Senate Higher Education Committee, said, “I’m going to be asking all public universities in the state to give me a list of all classes that were canceled.”

Because of his position, and because he has been outspoken on higher education issues, he said he regularly is contacted by parents and students with complaints or questions about things happening at the universities.

Professors should reschedule those classes because students have a limited number of sessions in each semester or quarter, he added.

Strenge said an instructor has the ability to cancel classes under certain circumstances but “it depends on the intent and how it was communicated to students.”

A professor who was genuinely distraught about something and unable to teach would have the right to cancel a class, Strenge said. If a class is canceled because of a political protest, that’s a grayer area, but whether that’s a right under political free speech is something lawyers might have to answer, he said.