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Provost Cauce to (Some) Petition Signers 6.6.2013

Provost Cauce to (Some) Petition Signers 6.6.2013

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Published by: huskies4fairness on Jul 10, 2013
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07/21/2013

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I am a strong believer in mobilizing human capital to fight injustice. One of the frustrating aspects of Change.

org however, is that it does not allow someone who is the “target” of such a petition to explain their position or enter into a dialogue with petitioners. (and, yes – I did send Change.org a response, but they have not published it next to the petition). Meanwhile, my e-mail box becomes filled with messages, interrupting my work, and does not allow me to respond to without doing some additional searching on my own. Seems like a very one-sided way of doing things in the name of “fairness.” That said, I really do appreciate your commitment to fairness and justice, but I do not believe that the petition tells the whole story of how carefully (and nar rowly) crafted the UW’s questions about criminal background are. The key area of criminal involvement that differentiates high school graduates by ethnicity (e.g. where African Americans and Latinos commit more crimes than others) is drug related offenses, and unlike most other universities that ask these questions, based on research, we made a decision not to include questions about drug-related crimes. We limited our questions to felony-level VIOLENT crimes of sexual offenses of an especially high level – those in that require individuals, even after being released from jail, to alert others of their background (e.g. if such students were in a UW class we would have to alert all other students in that class about this students criminal background, a level of notification only used in cases where there is a high likelihood or repeat offenses). It is also important to note that right after asking the question about felony level violent criminal offenses we include space for the applicant to tell us why we they should be admitted and why they do not constitute a threat to others on our campus. We do this to make it very clear to applicants that a history of criminal offense does not necessarily mean that they won’t be admitted, it simply means that we will contact them for further information – so that we can feel comfortable that this is someone committed to turning their life around. I have had extremely good experiences working with students who had made criminal-level mistakes in their past. A recent student/mentee of mine, Brian Stodsgill (seehttp://www.amazon.com/The-Boy-WithGun-ebook/dp/B00D3UV7UQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1370386234&sr=81&keywords=the+Boy+with+the+Gun) just last week had his book about how higher education turned his life around published by Amazon. He lists me in the book’s credits and we continue to be in good touch. Moreover, we worked closely with student government at the UW, and with the Office of Minority Affairs and Diversity advisory board in crafting our questions about criminal background. This included consulting with experts in the field and examining best practices. We are also committed to monitoring the effect of the policy on minority enrollment. It is important to note that, in fact, minorities in our society are more often than others to also be victims of violent crime. When last year we had multiple students on campus with level one sexual offenses in their background – offenses that required us to identify their backgrounds to all other students in their classes – some of those voicing the loudest concerns were parents of color. What I found especially difficult about this situation was not simply that these students were in our classes, but rather that the first that we knew about it was when we had to notify other students and that when I was asked about it by our students and our parents I had to admit that I knew nothing about these students, and I could offer no assurances that I believed that they were on this campus because they were committed to changing their lives. This is something that will be more readily ascertained when we can actually contact and speak to students with violent criminal histories that are applying to the University of Washington.

I am fully committed to making sure that the University of Washington remains a place where academically qualified students can come and transform their lives, adding to the welfare of our region, state, and country. This commitment is not only evident in these words, but in my history as a teacher, scholar, and administrator (seehttp://www.artsci.washington.edu/newsletter/winterspring08/Cauce.asp;http://www.bizjournals.com/ seattle/print-edition/2012/11/16/ana-mari-cauce-2012-women-of-influence.html). Thank you so much for your concern. It IS appreciated, Ana Mari Ana Mari Cauce Provost, University of Washington Professor of Psychology and American Ethnic Studies

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