Evergreen State College

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The Evergreen State College is a public liberal arts college in Olympia, Washington. Founded in 1967, it offers a non-traditional undergraduate curriculum in which students have the option to design their own study toward a degree or follow a pre-determined path of study. Full-time students can enrol in interdisciplinary academic programs, in addition to stand-alone classes. Programs typically offer students the opportunity to study several disciplines in a coordinated manner. Faculty write substantive narrative evaluations of students' work in place of issuing simple grades.

Evergreen's main campus, which includes its own salt-water beach, spans 1,000 acres of forest close to the southern end of Puget Sound. Evergreen also has a satellite campus in nearby Tacoma. The school offers a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Arts and Bachelor of Science, Master of Environmental Studies, Master in Teaching, Master of Public Administration, and Master of Public Administration in Tribal Governance.[1] As of 2018, there were 3,327 students, 3,018 of whom were undergraduates, and 223 faculty.[2]

Evergreen was one of many alternative colleges and programs launched in the 1960s and 1970s, often described as “experiments.”[3] While the vast majority of these have either closed or adopted more mainstream approaches, Evergreen is one of the few that have remained steadfast in pursuing its original mission.[4][5]

2017 protests

President Bridges appointed a committee to study social equity on campus. In November 2016, the committee recommended changes to faculty hiring and evaluation criteria that proved to be controversial. The debate continued through the spring semester.

Every April from the 1970s until 2017, Evergreen held a daylong event called "Day of Absence", inspired by the Douglas Turner Ward play of the same name, during which minority students and faculty members voluntarily stayed off campus to raise awareness of the contributions of minorities and to discuss racial and campus issues. Since 1992, the Day of Absence has been followed by the "Day of Presence", when the campus community reunites.[6] In 2017, approximately 25% of Evergreen students were racial minorities.

In 2017, the Day of Absence was altered after students of color voiced concerns about feeling unwelcome on campus following the 2016 U.S. presidential election and a 2015 off-campus police shooting. For that year's event, white students, staff, and faculty were invited to attend an off-campus event.[7] The off-campus event was held at a church that fit 200 people, about 10% of the white student body.[8] An event for students of color was held on the Evergreen campus.[9][10][11] Bret Weinstein, a professor of biology at Evergreen, wrote a letter in March to Evergreen faculty, protesting the change in format.[12][13] Weinstein's emails were widely shared among conservative media outlets such as [[Breitbart News and Heat Street, which led to harassment and threats towards school officials and faculty.[14] In late May 2017, student protests—focused in part on the comments by Weinstein—disrupted the campus and called for a number of changes to the college.[15] Weinstein says he was told that campus police could not protect him and that they encouraged him not to be on campus, which caused Weinstein to hold his biology class in a public park.[16][17] Weinstein and his wife, Professor Heather Heying, later resigned and reached a $500,000 settlement with the university, after having sued it for failing to "protect its employees from repeated provocative and corrosive verbal and written hostility based on race, as well as threats of physical violence".[18]

A June 1 direct threat to campus safety, targeting the protesters, led to an evacuation and two-day closure of the campus.[19] Vandals with sticks and baseball bats caused approximately $10,000 in damage to the campus and forced closure of the school for an additional day.[20] A June 15 protest on campus by the group Patriot Prayer led to campus being closed early.[21][22] The following day, Evergreen's 2017 commencement ceremony was also moved off-campus because of safety concerns.[23] Through the spring and summer, African American students reported receiving harassing and threatening messages.[24] An African American staff member and faculty member both resigned before the end of the year, due to escalating online attacks against them.[25]

A report from the college suggested that the protests may adversely affect Evergreen's enrollment, which has been declining over the last decade.[26] In the immediate aftermath enrollments fell, with the November 2018 head count dropping to 3,327 students, down from 3,881 students in 2017. The college's chief enrollment officer cited "questions about our reputation" as making efforts to attract students "more difficult" [27] and the drop forced the college to cut its budget by 10% and increase student fees. Enrollment has since plummeted 27%, to 2,854 students in fall of 2019. [28] The declining enrollments at the college is widely regard as vindication of the saying Get work, go broke.

References

  1. https://www.evergreen.edu/nativeprograms/mpa
  2. https://www.evergreen.edu/institutionalresearch/factpage
  3. https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED415810.pdf
  4. https://www.csmonitor.com/1983/0217/021745.html
  5. https://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/WPcap/2000-02/28/028r-022800-idx.html
  6. http://evergreen.edu/multicultural/day-of-absence-day-of-presence
  7. http://www.cooperpointjournal.com/2017/04/10/day-of-absence-changes-form/
  8. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/evergreen-state-college-another-side_b_598cd293e4b090964295e8fc
  9. http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/education/discord-at-evergreen-state-simmered-for-a-year-before-it-boiled-over/
  10. https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2017/05/30/escalating-debate-race-evergreen-state-students-demand-firing-professor
  11. http://www.cooperpointjournal.com/2017/04/10/day-of-absence-changes-form/
  12. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/grade-point/wp/2017/06/01/threats-shut-down-college-embroiled-in-racial-dispute/
  13. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2017/05/26/professor-told-hes-not-safe-on-campus-after-college-protests-at-evergreen-state-university-washington/
  14. https://www.thestranger.com/news/2017/06/14/25216539/go-back-to-the-zoo-how-evergreen-state-college-became-a-target-for-right-wing-trolls
  15. http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/may/25/evergreen-state-students-demand-professor-resign-f/
  16. https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-campus-mob-came-for-meand-you-professor-could-be-next-1496187482
  17. http://www.king5.com/news/local/olympia/professor-told-hes-not-safe-on-campus-after-college-protests/443098670
  18. https://www.theolympian.com/news/local/article173710596.html
  19. Svrluga, Susan & Heim, Joe. (June 1, 2017). "Threat shuts down college embroiled in racial dispute", The Washington Post. Retrieved June 3, 2017.
  20. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/grade-point/wp/2017/06/05/evergreen-state-college-reopens-after-violent-threat-and-property-damage-on-campus
  21. http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/protests-roil-evergreen-campus-in-olympia-again/
  22. http://www.wweek.com/news/courts/2017/12/10/right-wing-slugger-tiny-toese-arrested-again-while-trolling-portland/
  23. https://www.theolympian.com/news/local/education/article154625464.html
  24. Littleton, Jacqueline. (June 16, 2017). "The Media Brought the Alt-Right to My Campus.", The New York Times.
  25. https://www.theolympian.com/news/local/article189327514.html
  26. https://www.theolympian.com/news/local/education/article210893889.html
  27. https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/education/heres-what-evergreen-state-college-is-doing-to-boost-its-reputation-and-enrollment/
  28. https://www.seattletimes.com/education-lab/in-hopes-of-ending-enrollment-woes-evergreen-state-college-is-overhauling-its-academic-programs/