A public college in Olympia, Washington, shut down yesterday due to a threat of violence telephoned to police after months of screaming sessions and angry accusations of racism precipitated by a college diversity coordinator’s call for white people to vacate campus.
Evergreen State College traditionally holds a “Day of Absence” in April, when nonwhite students would leave campus, “leaving white students to consider the importance of their fellow community members by sensing the real loss of their presence,” according to the student newspaper. This year, Director of First Peoples Multicultural Advising Services Rashida Love announced plans to “encourage” white students to leave campus instead, because identity politics groups “voiced concern over feeling as if they are unwelcome on campus, following the 2016 election.”
Biology professor Bret Weinstein objected to this in an email to Love that was later made public, prompting approximately 50 students to burst into his classroom on May 23, calling him a racist and demanding he resign, he wrote in the Wall Street Journal.
In the email students found offensive, Weinstein explicitly objected to racial segregation and volunteered to host a discussion about race “through a scientific / evolutionary lens,” a lens related to his academic specialty. But, he wrote, “On a college campus, one’s right to speak–or to be–must never be based on skin color.”
“There is a huge difference between a group or coalition deciding to voluntarily absent themselves from a shared space in order to highlight their vital and underappreciated roles…and a group or coalition encouraging another group to go away,” he wrote in the private email. “The first is a forceful call to consciousness which is, of course, crippling to the logic of oppression. The second is a show of force, and an act of oppression in and of itself.”
Weinstein says the Day of Absence went as planned. Its activities included “Radical Self-Care for Students, Faculty, and Staff of Color,” “Know Your Fascists,” and “Can White People Ever Be Woke,” and screenings of the LGBT-themed films “Moonlight” and “Major,” a movie about a black transgender activist.
More than a month later, an “angry mob” of students invaded his classroom, complaining about his private email, Weinstein wrote. Someone called the police. Students went berserk about the presence of police on campus amid their increasingly provocative behavior, and blocked the entrances of buildings they were occupying with furniture to impede police access. They then invaded administrative offices with demands for Weinstein’s resignation and more. In an interview with Tucker Carlson, Weinstein gives a short summary of the sequence of events.
The events kicked off a series of groveling sessions with campus administrators. College President George Bridges ordered campus police to stand down even as students grew increasingly aggressive, forcing Weinstein to hold classes in a public park, because “the chief of our college police department told me she could not protect me on campus. Protestors were searching cars for an unspecified individual—likely me.” Videos show groups of students refusing to allow administrators to leave a conference room until they submitted to students’ “demands,” which included:
- “Disarming Evergreen Police, with no expansions of police facilities or powers on campus
- Sensitivity and cultural competency training for all faculty and staff
- The creation of an Equity Center
- The coordinator of Trans & Queer Center be hired in a permanent full time position
- The creation of a permanent position dedicated to supporting undocumented students”
- And “police services sell all of their lethal and less than lethal weapons and donate the money to manifestation of demands enumerated here”;
- “Bret Weinstein be suspended immediately without pay but all students receive full credit.”
You can see more here in a video compilation of recent incidents around campus. The protesters have also demanded the college remove the video, and insist it was made by “white supremacists.” To be clear, colleges have no power over YouTube.
In objecting to what they call racism, students make statements and actions that if performed against minorities would probably be enough to bar the perpetrators from polite company forever. For example, students repeatedly shout “Black power.” What if it were “White power”? Also check out a sampling of the things they scream in this video, compiled by The College Fix, and imagine “blackness” or “black” or any other racial description substituted for “white” and “whiteness.”
— “Whiteness is the most violent f-ckin’ system to ever breathe!”
— “I’m tired of white people talking about what black and brown people need.”
— “These white-ass faculty members need to be holding HIM, and HIM, and ALL these people accountable!”
— “I’m tellin’ you, you’re speakin’ to your ancestor, all right? We been here before you. We built these cities, we had civilization way before you ever had … comin’ out your caves.”
In response, Bridges gave a self-parodying public statement. Here’s just the opening.
I’m George Bridges, I use he/him pronouns.
I begin our time together today by acknowledging the indigenous people of the Medicine Creek Treaty, whose land was stolen and on which the college stands. I would like to acknowledge the Squaxin people who are the traditional custodians of this land and pay respect to elders past and present of the Squaxin Island Tribe. I extend that respect to other Native people present.
In response to Native Student Alliance requests, we commit to opening every event with this acknowledgement.
Bridger went on to tell students who shortly began to scream obscenities at him, “We are grateful to the courageous students who have voiced their concerns…we’ve been working on the concerns you’ve raised and acknowledge that our results have fallen short. We should have done more to engage students in our work on equity and inclusion. This week, you are inviting us into the struggle you have taken up. We share your goals and together we can reach them.”
Obviously Bridges does not get it, and neither does an Evergreen alumnus who works at an in-state paper and attempted to make apologies for the students in a recent column. Although his column is long, nowhere in it does Matt Driscoll give one single fact that justifies students’ menacing behavior. Search the article. The closest he comes to explaining why any adult human being ought to be allowed to act this way in a civilized society is: “When it comes to issues of race, equality, and social justice, there’s a lot going on at Evergreen — like so many college campuses across the country right now.”
Okay, what exactly is “a lot going on”? Did anyone use a racial epithet, besides the protesting students? Does anyone not have equal access to education facilities or activities based on race, except the white students on campus? Have police roughed anyone up, or really done much of anything at all? Seems not, given that professors and students must hide off campus so roving bands of punks don’t find and beat them up. I’m sure we would have heard any of these things if they had occurred. We haven’t heard, because they haven’t occurred. These students are protesting make-believe grievances.
Why would they do that? Because that’s precisely what they’ve been taught to do. They’re cultivated ground troops for the self-styled intellectuals who have chairs of this studies and that studies on their campus. Some of these intellectuals can’t believe that the kids take their preposterous theories about institutional racism and white privilege seriously. Others are in the hallways, egging them on.