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Breitbart readers take issue with UW Tacoma policy addressing racism in writing

UPDATED: Thu., Feb. 23, 2017

The University of Washington Tacoma campus. (University of Washington / Courtesy)
The University of Washington Tacoma campus. (University of Washington / Courtesy)

Breitbart, the alt-right website, got more than 4,000 comments on a short story Wednesday highlighting a statement from the University of Washington Tacoma Writing Center regarding racism in writing and the values of its faculty.

Faculty and students collaborated on a statement on inclusivity to start “a conversation on the discrimination and alienation that often go unnoticed in academia,” according to a story posted on UW Tacoma’s website. “As the statement urges, ‘there is no inherent ‘standard’ of English,’ and with this in mind, the Center aims to ensure that through compassion and careful consideration, staff do not inadvertently embrace racist practices.”

Breitbart reprinted the UW Tacoma story with this introduction: “The Writing Center at the University of Washington is telling students that expecting Americans to use proper grammar perpetuates racism.”

That’s inaccurate, according to Michael Wark, assistant vice chancellor for external relations at UW Tacoma.

“The Writing Center statement is not about changing the standard for how UW Tacoma teaches commonly accepted English, grammar and composition,” he said via email. “UW Tacoma students achieve thorough proficiency in grammar and English expected in higher education and the workplace.”

The UW Tacoma Writing Center helps students improve their writing through feedback with consultants; most universities offer a similar service.

The statement was spearheaded by the director of the writing center, associate professor Asao Inoue, whose research has focused in racism in writing assessments, the UW website story said.

It’s about the Writing Center’s “commitment to be inclusive and welcoming to all students,” Wark said in his email. He added, “The statement also describes the Center’s commitment to helping students critically understand the broader context of language, including how different dialects are judged in various settings.”

The Breitbart item has more than 4,000 comments – including many containing grammar and spelling errors: “I have to live in a house that is way bigger and more expensive than I need just to be in a community wherein my neighbors are not constantly planning on robbing my privelaged, white self,” said one named “Justin.”

Other commenters complained about the education system in general, while many others disparaged blacks in racist terms.

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