A Republican lawmaker upset over a new University of Wisconsin-Madison course called “The Problem of Whiteness” has threatened to put a hold on additional state funding for the university unless the course is canceled.
State Rep. Dave Murphy, chairman of the Assembly Committee on Colleges, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel this week that he also wants the course’s professor, Damon Sajnani, fired, and for the rest of the university’s course offerings to be reviewed to ensure “they’re legit.”
Murphy told the newspaper that he had planned to push lawmakers to boost finding for the UW system in the next state budget, but said he would not do so if the university chose to stand behind Sajnani. The Republican legislator said he was particularly bothered by tweets that the African-American studies professor posted after five Dallas police officers were killed last summer.
Sajnani had posted a link to a song called “Officer Down,” adding the comment: “Watching CNN, this is the song I am currently enjoying in my head.”
The university told the Journal Sentinel that Sajnani’s course, slated for the upcoming spring semester, was an elective intended as a “challenge and response to racism of all kinds.” While the university said that it was the staff’s prerogative under the First Amendment to use social media as they see fit, Provost Sarah Mangelsdorf added that the school does not condone the incitement of violence.
Murphy’s push to force the university to drop the course has support from other Republican lawmakers, including state Sen. Steve Nass (R), who first brought concerns about the “Problem of Whiteness” course to university officials.