Rantz: Evergreen students aim to disarm cops, want ‘sanctuary campus’ and ‘fun’ instead

Nov 26, 2018, 5:49 AM | Updated: 11:21 am
Evergreen state college...
Washington state troopers are sprayed with silly string at a protest at Evergreen State College on June 15, 2017. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

More than a year after holding then-professor Bret Weinstein hostage for taking a position on a controversial protest they didn’t like, protesters now ask Evergreen State College to cease their hiring of two new police officers, while chanting their demands that the officers disarm themselves and promote “fun” and their status as a “sanctuary campus” instead.

The protesters with IWW South Sound General Education Union gave the school 14 days to submit to their demands. Evergreen has ignored them.

“This is a college not a war, what do we need rifles for!” the protest of about 100 students and faculty members chanted earlier this month, according to the Cooper Point Journal, a student-run publication. A sign at the protest: “No Guns, More Fun.”

The protest came after students learned the school was hiring for two new officer positions, while cutting some faculty members and programs. The cuts come as the school faces a “catastrophic” enrollment crisis.

Some students and faculty were unhappy.

“The question of police presence on campus is not just a question of budget priorities, it’s a question of power: who runs the school, and for what purpose?” freshman Alice McIntyre told the Cooper Point Journal. “It’s abundantly clear from the decision made by the administration and board of trustees that the school is not being run in the interest of students and faculty.”

McIntyre explained to the student newspaper that “the struggle against the presence of police at Evergreen is closely linked to the defense of immigrant students and students of color,” and that “as long as police remain at Evergreen, its status as a ‘sanctuary campus’ should be viewed with a grain of salt, as should any stated commitments to equality and inclusion.”

Another freshman protester told the paper, of the school staffing decision, that “we won’t stand idly by when they make decisions for us that are detrimental to our well being.”

The “macho show”

The decision to hire more officers came at the apparent request of Evergreen’s then-chief of police. According to the Cooper Point Journal, this decision comes after the school’s president George Bridges, “quietly approved” a budget request to purchase AR-15s for the campus police to use in cases of active shooter threats.

But some students and faculty don’t buy that excuse.

“I felt the police suffered from weapons envy,” Michael Vavrus, Professor Emeritus, told the student newspaper, adding that “…the police’s rhetoric felt like it was out of the Wild West, with officers imagining themselves ‘coming in on their white horses and rescuing people’, and it felt like a ‘macho show.’”

Rather remarkably, Vavrus says because the school hasn’t been targeted with violence in the past, especially after cop-killer Mumia Abu-Jamal was invited to be their commencement speaker in 1999, there’s no reason to believe they’d be targeted in the future.

“If anything was going to happen on our campus, that was the day, and nothing happened,” Vavrus said. “I remember when somebody got in a tower at the University of Texas 1966 and just started shooting on the campus […] colleges didn’t go and suddenly get rifles. There have been instances on colleges throughout the years where police being armed wouldn’t have changed the situation.”

The school faced a serious threat of violence in 2017 that lead to a two-day shutdown.

As Evergreen students are prone to do, they offered their demand to the school’s president, in a letter which demanded action in two weeks. Upon receipt of the demand, an administrator offered the kids candy (not kidding) and, 14 days later, have yet to succumb to their demands.

The student protesters posted online a response to being ignored:

Despite over 100 people delivering a letter that called for the school to not hire another cop and to instead employ two full time positions (one in political economy, one in the arts), the administration refuses to hear our demands that remain popular throughout the working class of the college.

They’re asking students and supporters to call the school, reading off the following suggested script.

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Rantz: Evergreen students aim to disarm cops, want ‘sanctuary campus’ and ‘fun’ instead