1. Hundreds of UW students converged on Greek Row where Northeast 45th Street meets 17th Avenue Northeast for the Check Your Privilege Block Party on Saturday night to protest discrimination in Greek culture.
The night was peaceful despite the ugly online pushback and cyberbullying earlier in the week in the runup to the event with comments on the event's Facebook page, for example, declaring:
"Cottin Pickin' Naggers."
Saturday night's rally featured student speakers, local activists, hip-hop emcees, and a zine table with pamphlets like “White Privilege.”
After a school year where sexual assault and racism at frats was in the headlines both nationally and locally, UW students marked the end of the academic calendar with Saturday night's teach-in.
"I am hoping that people start questioning a lot of the problematic dynamics that happen with the UW Greek culture, and we can start to alter it to a community that is welcoming and safer for marginalized populations and women,” said student and organizer Palca Shibale, who gave the closing speech on Saturday. "This is really just one step in the larger picture, but we have to start somewhere in the hopes for institutional change.”
Interfraternity Council (IFC) president Nate Stockman said the rally “set the precedent" in a battle to create justice and equality in the Greek community.
2. Mayor Ed Murray named Brian Surratt the new head of the city's Office of Economic Development Friday afternoon.
Surratt—who starred on Seattle Met's list of “The 15 People Who Should Run Seattle" in January for his brainiac work putting together the details of the $15 minimum wage proposal as a staffer in Murray's policy shop—was an OED staffer for nearly 10 years before joining the Murray administration.
He was the deputy director at OED for three of those years under city hall veteran Steve Johnson, who has led OED for the past six years.
Surratt's appointment won praise from both the chamber and labor and tech communities.
Surratt takes over on June 15 and will make $132,000.
3. City council candidate Alon Bassok has released another specific policy proposal (last week, along with candidate John Roderick, he put out a half-baked inner-city transit plan).
This morning, Bassok, who has a degree in urban planning and works for the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies at the University of Washington, released a plan to build 30,000 new affordable housing units "at no cost to the city," he says.
Bassok is turning to a standard policy known as inclusionary zoning (where developers are mandated to include some affordable housing in their projects). Bassok is calling his idea "inclusionary up-zoning," though because in tandem with the affordable housing mandate—making one in five new units affordable—he's proposing lifting height restrictions in urban centers and villages.
He says: "A four-story building becomes six. A six-story building becomes nine. These are not skyscrapers. These are human-scale buildings. If we just raise the limit to 1.5 times what it is now, we could get 45,000 apartments and condos of truly affordable housing. Twice the limit? Sixty thousand apartments is three times what the mayor says we need. We may not get it all at once, but if we just get a third over a decade, we fulfill our needs."
Bassok is running for one of the two at-large city council seats in District 9 against civil rights attorney and former Mayor Murray legal counsel Lorena González and neighborhood activists Bill Bradburd.