Wednesday, May 27, 2009

WSU Pulls Pollan from Freshman Reading Program

First WSU pulls the plug on the Extension programs and now they're censoring Michael Pollan from the freshman reading program. Is it pressure from corporate agriculture or just tough financial times for the Cougs? I'm thinking this is just one more reason to join Millions Against Monsanto...

This just in from the good folks @ Food Democracy Now:

Make a Call for Academic Freedom

Last week, Washington State University announced that it was pulling Michael Pollan’s best-selling book The Omnivore’s Dilemma from its required Common Reading Program for all incoming freshman due to pressure from corporate agribusiness. In March of this year, a university committee had selected Pollan's book, which takes a careful look at how America produces its food, and decided that it was an excellent choice for the student body of the land grant university. Unfortunately, WSU administrators later removed the book from the required common reading program. While top WSU officials attributed removal of Pollan's book from the reading program to hard financial times, despite the fact the 4,000 copies of the book have already been purchased, some faculty members have spoken out. End Corporate Influence and Fear at America’s Land Grant Universities. One WSU professor, quoted in The Chronicle of Higher Education - anonymously, for fear of losing their job, stated that Pollan’s book was pulled “because of the politics of the agriculture industry…and that President Floyd decided that this was not a battle he wanted to wage.”

It’s time that this type of corporate control over land grant education and research end. We believe that academic freedom and vigorous debate on all intellectual issues should be encouraged at every university, especially land grant universities charged with turning out the next generation of leaders of 21st century agriculture. If you want university research to be free of the corruptive influence of corporate agribusiness, you need to call or write today. Stand up for Michael Pollan and Academic Freedom! Let WSU President Elson Floyd know that you support the university’s original decision for all incoming freshman to read The Omnivore’s Dilemma and believe he should honor that commitment. Sustainably Yours,
Food Democracy Now!

If you'd like to see Food Democracy Now!'s grassroots work continue, please consider donating as little as $10 or $25. We appreciate your support!


Write or Call WSU President Elson Floyd Today at:

Washington State University
Office of the President – President Elson Floyd
Phone Number: 509-335-6666

Sample Phone Script:
Please tell WSU President Floyd to:

I'm calling today to ask the President Floyd stand firm on academic freedom and include The Omnivore’s Dilemma in the university’s Common Reading Program.

It’s important that students at land grant universities be exposed to all ideas, especially those that challenge the orthodoxies of our times. Academic freedom at universities and freedom of speech are the foundation of a democracy and I believe that The Omnivore’s Dilemma is a crucial part of the ongoing debate in society about how food is produced in America and its impact on our nation’s citizens.

We encourage all interactions with WSU staff, whether written or spoken to be polite and respectful.


Sample Letter:
Subject: Support Michael Pollan and Academic Freedom

Dear President Floyd,

I appreciate Washington State University’s original decision to select Michael Pollan’s award-winning book The Omnivore’s Dilemma to be read by all incoming freshman as part of the university’s Common Reading Program.

Pollan’s work is important, not because it takes a critical look at industrial agriculture, as it has been commonly portrayed in the media, but because Pollan gives a rational critique of organic practices and companies as well.

Regretfully, that original decision to include this important book, which was hailed by WSU scholars and students alike, has been reversed because of undue industry pressure. Since 4,000 copies of the book have already been bought, it would not only be a crime against academic freedom, but it would be financially wasteful as well.

Today, I join with thousands of Americans across the country asking that you stand up for intellectual honesty and academic freedom by reinstating the decision to allow all incoming freshman to read this harmless, yet wonderful book so they can make the decision themselves.

It’s a shame that WSU’s freshman may be denied the opportunity to read this important book as a result of industry influence.

We stand behind you to make the right decision and let academic freedom ring, please reinstate Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma into the Common Reading Program.

[Your name here
City, State]

If you like you can:
Invite President Floyd to an event to speak on academic freedom you can contact him here:

Phone: 509/335-7932 or


1. WSU Selects “Omnivore’s Dilemma” as 2009 Common Reading Book for Freshmen – March 26, 2009

2. WSU Common Reading Program – Cans Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma – May 1, 2009

3. WSU’s Book Controversy Shines Light on Big Ag’s Influence on Land Grant Schools – May 23, 2009

4. Washington State's Dilemma: How to Serve Up a Book Criticizing the Food Industry - May 21, 2009

5. Washington State University - Say It Isn't So. Hey, Michael Pollan, I'll Pay Your Way to Pullman

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