I knew it was the economic pressures that public education is facing and not any political pressure that caused the change in the reading of Omnivore’s Dilemma and Michael Pollan’s visit to Pullman. The WSU I graduated from and served, would not bend to that kind of small mindlessness. As I said to a reporter:
“I certainly understand the financial problems that WSU and other colleges and universities are facing,” said Marler, an attorney from Bainbridge Island. “However, I also thought it would be important for the public to understand that Washington State University views freedom of speech and academic expression as something that is truly fundamental to its mission. I am pleased I could help in this regard.”
It was just posted on the Chronicle of Higher Education blog a few moments ago that WSU is having Michael Pollan to campus and 4,000 of his books, Omnivore’s Dilemma, will be distributed.
In the recent case of Washington State University’s dropping Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma as its “common reading” selection for the year, two rationales emerged: University officials said the reasons had to do with the institution’s dire budget outlook — there was just no money to bring in a big-name author like Mr. Pollan, they said. Meanwhile, some faculty members and others said the book was dropped because it attacks one of the university’s bases, Big Agriculture.Well, Bill Marler, a Seattle-based personal-injury lawyer who specializes in food-poisoning cases and who has become something of a food-safety advocate, is throwing down the gauntlet. “Hey, Michael Pollan, I’ll pay your way to Pullman,” Mr. Marler, a Washington State alumnus, writes on his blog. “I have my checkbook ready.”“So, was it political or was it financial?” he writes of the controversy. “I have an idea! To show that it was not political, I will pay to get Mr. Pollan to Pullman and find a place for him to speak — I’ll even introduce him. My hope is that it was not political.”Debra Townsend, a spokeswoman for the university, says that Elson S. Floyd, the university’s president, talked to Mr. Marler over the phone this afternoon and has decided to accept his offer.