Last week, a geography professor at the public, taxpayer-funded University of Wisconsin-La Crosse used a required assignment in one of her courses to wage a campaign against Republicans, blaming them entirely for the government shutdown over federal spending.
Rachel Slocum, an assistant professor in the UW–La Crosse geography and earth sciences department, sent the vitriolic email entitled “government websites” on Oct. 1, reports Media Trackers Wisconsin.
Here it is, unexpurgated:
Some of the data gathering assignment will be impossible to complete until the Republican/tea party controlled House of Representatives agrees to fund the government. The Census website, for example, is closed. Please do what you can on the assignment. Those parts that you’re unable to do because of the shutdown will have to wait until Congress decides we actually need a government. Please listen to the news and be prepared to turn in the assignment quickly once our nation re-opens.
Media Trackers forwarded the email to Joe Gow, the publicly-funded school’s chancellor.
“I share your concerns about the inappropriate use of the overly partisan phrase ‘Republican tea party controlled House of Representatives’ in a message purported to have been sent by a UW-L instructor to a class of students,” Gow responded.
The chancellor also called on a dean to investigate.
“I have just spoken to the College Dean, who has now called the professor, verified the authenticity of the note, pointed out the inappropriateness of the politically partisan language, and obtained the professor’s commitment to writing a follow-up apology to the class,” Gow later wrote in an email to Media Trackers.
Slocum sent her “follow-up apology” email the next day.
In this second email, entitled “Census data assignment,” Slocum’s “apology” is by her own admission is “a more thorough, less annoyed version of shutdown events.”
After a condescending explanation of her beliefs about the role of the House of Representatives in the government shutdown, Slocum observes that Sen. John McCain — who is not a member of the House — has criticized the shutdown.
“Many are not happy with this all or nothing style that people on the far right (who refer to themselves as the Tea Party) are advocating,” she contemptuously proclaims.
“It is true that I am dismayed that you cannot easily do the assignment. My opinion is that this shutdown is a bad idea.”
Slocum never elaborates on which government official made the decision to close down the census website students must access to complete the assignment.
In the email’s penultimate paragraph, Slocum implores her students at the taxpayer-funded university to keep her emails secret. “But please don’t forward my emails to conservative blogs or list servs and I will make sure my emails explain things fully,” she asks.
Here is the complete text of the second email:
The email I sent you all about the government shut down [sic] was not meant to be partisan, but it may have come across that way. The following is a more thorough, less annoyed version of shutdown events.
It’s part of the democratic process for Congress to be able to shut down the government by not raising the debt ceiling or allowing the passage of a temporary budget (continuing resolution) that keeps the government open. Typically, Congress easily passes legislation to allow the government to borrow and to keep it running until an actual budget is hammered out. Today the reason the government has shutdown is because Republicans want Democrats to agree to signficant [sic] changes to the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). They have control of the House. Democrats argue that the ACA just went into effect on October 1st so we haven’t yet seen what needs to be changed. They won’t agree to these big changes (like delaying the ACA for a year or stripping it of funding) nor will the president. Consequently, the Senate rejected the House bill, there was no Continuing Resolution, and the government was forced to close.
Incidentally, within the Republican party, there was disagreement over whether to shut down the government. McCain for instance was opposed along with other Senate Republicans. It’s important to recognize that within the Republican party there is disagreement over how to govern. Many are not happy with this all or nothing style that people on the far right (who refer to themselves as the Tea Party) are advocating. This is, in essence, the argument made by conservative columnist David Brooks.
It is true that I am dismayed that you cannot easily do the assignment. My opinion is that this shutdown is a bad idea.
If you want to discuss all of this, let me know and I can make an internal (D2L) discussion board about it. But please don’t forward my emails to conservative blogs or list servs and I will make sure my emails explain things fully.
Here’s hoping you can get to the assignment this week.
Slocum obtained both her Ph.D. and M.A. degrees from Clark University in Worcester, Mass., according to the UW–La Crosse website. She has a bachelor’s degree from McGill University in Montreal.
Before she went to graduate school, Slocum spent several years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Niger. She lists yoga, gardening and knitting among her hobbies.
On a blog related to one of her courses, Slocum has listed organizations she looks to “for inspiration and information.” The list is a veritable Who’s Who of groups on the angry, far left including “Occupy, US Social Forum, Applied Research Center, Greenpeace, and Democracy Now.”
“All of these organizations have links on their websites for things you can do.” Slocum instructs. “There’s also lots of student activism on things like food, sweatshops, and climate change.”