Baumgartner says WSU profs canceled classes to protest Trump win

November 11, 2016 GMT

A Spokane lawmaker is demanding state universities and colleges report whether any professors canceled classes to protest Donald Trump’s election.

Republican Sen. Mike Baumgartner said Friday he has received “multiple” calls and emails from parents and students saying some classes at Washington State University were canceled this week after the election, either in protest or “mourning” for a Trump victory. That’s a waste of taxpayers’ money, he said.

He said he doesn’t know how many, or for what courses.

Rob Strenge, a WSU spokesman, said the first time he heard about classes being canceled because of the election was when a reporter called him. University officials will look into it, but probably won’t know any details until next week because classes and offices are closed Friday for Veterans Day.

“I’m going to be asking all public universities in the state to give me a list of all classes that were canceled,” said Baumgartner, currently vice chairman of the Senate Higher Education Committee.

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Because of that position, and because he has been outspoken on higher education issues, he said he regularly is contacted by parents and students with complaints or questions about things happening at the universities.

Professors should reschedule those classes because students have a limited number of sessions in each semester or quarter, he added.

Strenge said an instructor has the ability to cancel classes under certain circumstances but “it depends on the intent, and how it was communicated to students.”

A professor who was genuinely distraught about something and unable to teach would have the right cancel a class, Strenge said. If a class is canceled because of a political protest, that’s a grayer area but whether that’s a right under political free speech is something lawyers might have to answer, he said.