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UW President, Graduate and Professional Student Senate Chris Lizotte to Petitioners 6.17.2013

UW President, Graduate and Professional Student Senate Chris Lizotte to Petitioners 6.17.2013

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Published by: huskies4fairness on Jul 10, 2013
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08/19/2013

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Hi Huskies For,Chris Lizotte sent you a private message on Change.org.-------------------------------------------In response to your petitionTo whom it may concern:I am writing to express my alarm and concern at the content of your petition regarding criminalbackground questions to be included in the University of Washington's undergraduate admissionsapplication beginning with the entering class of 2014.I appreciate and share very much your desire to see equity and justice be done in carrying out the UW'smission of being a truly public, inclusive institution. I further appreciate your well-researched and arguedposition on institutional racism with which I totally agree. Let me be crystal clear - I am not taking issue atall with the idea that seemingly neutral standards of behavior and achievement are in fact shot throughwith racialized, gendered, and other hegemonic assumptions.I do, however, protest your representation of the question to be asked as well as the process by which thequestion was arrived at. In the first instance the question's scope is extremely limited, to violent felonies.Space will be provided for applicants to explain the circumstances surrounding their past convictions, anda positive response to the question does not categorically exclude someone from admission. In thesecond case, a broad coalition of student and faculty groups were involved in the crafting of the question.It was not arrived at by fiat.I am also deeply concerned that you have chosen to take this course of action, which potentiallymisrepresents the intentions of the UW administration, without allowing them to explain themselves.There is no question that the proposed criminal background question is potentially problematic. However,under the guise of a grassroots campaign against wrongdoing, you have passed summary judgement onan issue about which you are not fully informed. In this case I feel you are missing the larger picture inwhich access must be balanced by public safety - something the UW was criticized for in the other direction last year when two Level 3 sex offenders were admitted (and which spawneda change.org petition that, ironically, called for *increased* scrutiny of such people). And I am particularly
 
troubled that you have not responded to requests by Provost Cauce to allow her to explain the reasoningbehind the criminal background question.My job is not by any means to uncritically defend the UW administration; I have and will publicly disagreewith and resist their decisions if I and the students I represent feel it is appropriate. However, in caseswhere I feel that the administration has done their due dilligence and acted in good faith in the interest of students, it is also my job to defend the reputation of the institution on behalf of the 12,000 graduate andprofessional students whom I represent.I welcome your comments or responses at gpsspres@uw.edu. 
 
Respectfully,Chris LizottePresident, Graduate and Professional Student Senate

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