Of the UW, Hype, Racism and Fundraising

Describing another much welcome gift from Paul Allen, the University of Washington School of Engineering ‘s latest “Trend” newsletter describes it benefactor : “[Paul] Allen has a longstanding connection to and affinity for UW CSE [Computer Science and Engineering]. As a student at Seattle’s Lakeside School in the 1960s, he visited the UW campus to use its computer labs.”

The puff piece makes it sound as if the UW reached out to a high school kid in  some sort of advanced placement exchange.  Of course Gates and Allen were kids in Seattle’s most privileged private school.  Somehow I doubt the UW would have been as kindly back then if  two black kids had snuck in and used the labs with no authorization! Eventually Gates and Allen were caught, at which point the students convinced the faculty that they were useful enough that they should be allowed to stick around, which they were allowed to do on an informal basis.

I wonder what would have happened back then if  Allen had been a Somali immigrant or some farm worker’s kid?

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