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University’s Funding in Jeopardy Over ‘The Problem of Whiteness’ Course

GOP lawmakers in Wisconsin are reportedly threatening to block additional state funding unless a new course at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, called “The Problem of Whiteness” is canceled.

David Murphy

State Rep. Dave Murphy told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel he has told his staff to pore over university course offerings to make sure “they’re legit.”

“We are adding to the polarization of the races in our state,” Murphy told the newspaper about the course.

Damon Sajnani

Murphy planned to push for more funding for the UW system in the next state budget, but said he would rethink that support if the university chose to stand behind course teacher, Damon Sajnani [a Rapper from Canada], the Journal-Sentinel reported.

Murphy also is concerned about tweets the African-American studies teacher posted after five Dallas police officers were killed last July 7, according to the Journal-Sentinel.

According to the newspaper, Sajnani 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.”

Provost Sarah Mangelsdorf also defended the university’s staff’s prerogative under the First Amendment to use social media as they see fit, but added the school does not condone the incitement of violence, the newspaper reported.

Murphy’s push to force the university to drop the course has support from other Republican state lawmakers, including state Sen. Steve Nass who first brought his concerns about the course to university officials, the newspaper reported.

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