Evergreen State College closed due to a threat after a multicultural group suggested white people leave for a non-racist “day of absence.”
The liberal school’s campus is located off Evergreen Parkway in Olympia. Evergreen posted the following on its website: “In response to a direct threat to campus safety, the college is closing immediately for the day. All are asked to leave campus or return to residence halls for instructions.”
- Tensions are high as students allege racism, protest administrators at The Evergreen State College.
- Rashida Love, director of the First People’s Multicultural Advising Services program, sent an email asking for some white students to volunteer not to be on campus for an anti-racist “day of absence” event.
- Professor Bret Weinstein then sent back an email saying that asking white students to stay off campus is an “act of oppression in and of itself.”
- In wake of race protests at Evergreen, one lawmaker proposes to make it private.
- A college spokesman said a “threat of violence” caused the school shutdown.
College spokesman Zach Powers said a “threat of violence” prompted the shutdown, but leaders did not release specific information regarding the motive or the threat’s message.
In a news conference on Wednesday, leaders said they learned about the non-specific threat from law enforcement.
When asked about rumors of white supremacists calling in the threat, Vice President of College Relations Sandra Kaiser she did not know.
Kaiser also said the school doesn’t know if the threat is connected to recent racial tensions on campus.
“There’s nothing that I know of that connects these things directly, but of course, we live in troubled times, and you got to take public safety as a top priority for everybody,” Kaiser said.
June is a busy time for students on campus as end-of-the-quarter exams and presentations are being completed, according to school leaders. The school has not decided whether they will open on Friday.
Why Evergreen College is making national headlines
Events at the college have attracted national attention in recent weeks.
Protests began in mid-May in response to campus police questioning black students, according to a report in the Cooper Point Journal, the college’s student newspaper.
The campus police department repeatedly denied requests for comment on the event, according to The Tacoma News Tribune.
Tensions reached a new high after the public airing of an email exchange between school employees over a planned anti-racist “day of absence” event.
Rashida Love, director of the First People’s Multicultural Advising Services program, sent an email asking for some white students to volunteer not to be on campus for the event, to leave the college more open for students of color, said college spokesman Zach Powers.
Typically minority students have retreated off campus on the day of absence, which involves only about 200 of the 4,800 students and staff at the school, Powers said.
Professor Bret Weinstein then sent back an email saying that asking white students to stay off campus is an “act of oppression in and of itself,” the Journal reported.
Some students have since protested Weinstein, calling him racist and asking the administration to fire him. Videos circulated of protesters confronting Weinstein have shown tense and sometimes angry moments. Weinstein has gone on Fox News to talk about the controversy and penned an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal.
In wake of race protests at Evergreen, one lawmaker proposes to make it private
A Republican state lawmaker from Eastern Washington on Wednesday blasted recent protests alleging racism at The Evergreen State College, and said he wants the Legislature to privatize the school.
He’s also calling for an investigation to see if civil rights laws have been broken by college actions.
Rep. Matt Manweller, R-Ellensburg, plans to introduce a bill Thursday that would ratchet down state funding for Evergreen over five years, he said in an interview.
He also sent a letter Wednesday to the state Human Rights Commission asking executive director Sharon Ortiz to “take action to correct discriminatory practices or policies” at the college.
His bill has little chance of passing, especially as lawmakers are embroiled in their second special session over a court-ordered fix to public schools. The commission is not launching any investigation at the moment, Ortiz said Wednesday.
But Manweller called the moves a “figurative shot across the bow” to school administration and protesters “that says ‘Hey, the people that are funding you are watching and they’re not happy.’”
Some Democrats already are rejecting the bill. The party has a majority in the state House.
The Tacoma News Tribune contributed to this report.