A Washington state senator has survived a campaign by Western Washington University students who demanded their school revoke his master's degree over his global warming positions.
Doug Ericksen, a Republican and chair of Washington's Senate Energy, Environment and Telecommunications Committee, had blocked efforts to force businesses and residents to go green, though he supports voluntary compliance. He opposes mandated cap-and-trade programs and low-carbon fuel standards.
But the effort to yank Ericksen's degree -- he earned his MA in political science and environmental policy at WWU -- met with a stiff rebuke last week from the university's president.
"We appreciate the good work of Senator Doug Ericksen on behalf of Western Washington University," said WWU President Bruce Shepard. "Senator Ericksen, a Western alumnus, has proven to be a friend to Western and a strong advocate ... The strength of our democracy is that all citizens, including students and leaders like Senator Ericksen, have the freedom of expression to take positions with diverse viewpoints."
Shepard dismissed "any notion that we might seek to penalize a graduate for the positions they express" as "a disturbing misunderstanding of the intellectual freedoms any university worthy of the name must stand for. And, protect."
Ericksen's critics could not be reached for comment and did not appear to have any formal name or structure. Their crusade was profiled in a local newspaper, the Bellingham Herald.
"Sen. Doug Ericksen is welcome to have whatever political views he wants, but by misinforming the public on the science of climate change, he is undermining the credibility of our own degrees and reflecting poorly on the caliber of education students receive here," the students said in a statement to the Herald.