A student group seeking to have state Sen. Doug Ericksen’s Western Washington University degree revoked issued a response to The Bellingham Herald after WWU President Bruce Shepard defended Ericksen.
The students remain entrenched in their position against Ericksen, who graduated in 1995 with a master’s degree in political science and environmental policy. As a senator who chairs the Energy, Environment and Telecommunications Committee, Ericksen, R-Ferndale, has been a critic and opponent of Democrats’ carbon reduction policies, and one of the most visible climate skeptics in the state Legislature.
In response to the students’ push to have the administration strip Ericksen of his degree, Shepard issued a statement late Friday, May 8, supportive of Ericksen as a “friend to Western,” and questioning the students’ understanding of intellectual freedom in academia.
In a statement to the Herald on Tuesday, May 12, students Emily Krieger, Evelyn Kennedy and Chiara D’Angelo countered that Western’s academic reputation was at stake:
Krieger said the students did not deliver this message to Shepard but rather intended to meet with him in person.
Here is Shepard’s statement from Friday, in full:
Incidentally and in case you were wondering, a Western spokesman on Wednesday, May 13, said Shepard did not release his statement in response to a request from Ericksen. Nor did it come out of the blue. The administration knew the campus newspaper, The Western Front, was working on a story about the attempt to revoke Ericksen’s degree and was prepared to make a statement for that story.
This came today from Paul Cocke, director of communications at Western:
In a similar vein (yes, there is a mining pun in there), at a larger state school to our south, regents will decide whether to divest from coal companies. This is in response to the University of Washington’s own cadre of student climate activists.
UW activist Kyle Murphy told the Seattle news site Crosscut that a university with a reputation for sustainability can’t rightly be funding the coal industry through its investments:
If UW regents vote Thursday, May 14, to divest from coal, they would follow in the footsteps of Stanford, Syracuse and some other universities. Yale and Harvard, among others, so far have rebuffed student pressure to divest from fossil fuels.