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Evergreen students, staff speak out following tense spring

It was the first time the Evergreen State College Board of Trustees met on campus since May 9, before a series of tense, racially-charged protests and incidents at the school. Wednesday’s meeting was a time to listen to the Evergreen community, and the board had plenty to hear.

“…I’m forced to conclude that you must not fully understand what has happened,” Professor Bret Weinstein said to the board. “Because if you did fully understand what has happened you would be forced to act in the interest of Evergreen.”

RELATED: Evergreen State College closes following protests, threats

Weinstein was the professor who initially refused to participate on a day white students and teachers were asked to stay off campus. His stance on the matter led to a series of incidents including protests, a counter protest, and threats of mass shootings on campus. But Weinstein wasn’t the only person that the board heard from Wednesday.

All comments seemed to agree on one point: There is a range of inequality in America that needs to be addressed. But that sentiment was split into two groups — one that argues Evergreen is not inclusive and safe for everyone; and another that says a particular political perspective has taken over the narrative and created an unsafe campus.

What the Evergreen Board of Trustees heard:

Bret Weinstein

Do you know that the college descended into literal anarchy. For days the campus was not under control of the state, it was under the control of protesters. There were assaults, there were batteries, there was pressure not to report crimes to the police. People were, by the legal definition I believe, kidnapped and imprisoned. That included faculty members and administrators. Others were hunted on the campus. Lawless bands roamed the campus unimpeded. Police were physically and intentionally blocked by protestors. Police were cruelly, systematically and personally taunted. They were humiliated and forced to stand down by the president. Students that held different opinions were, by the protestors own analysis, stalked, harassed … their names, pictures, addresses, and phone numbers were distributed online …

Do you know that although the code of conduct is supposed to protect all of us, that Dr. Bridges decided to selectively suspend it, giving some students license to threaten others.

Vanlyn Ramsay – student

There are a lot of things that aren’t addressed, such as student homelessness, the lack of opportunity for students to have jobs on campus. All these things affect retention rates and success of students. It’s very important to listen to demands instead of giving into the hype that paints students in a dangerous light that also led to students being doxed, harassed, stalked as well; including myself.

Mackenzie Kiger – student

My concerns with what’s been happening this past spring are with the lack of viewpoint diversity … if you have any sort of alternative viewpoint, which I do have, you are the enemy. I don’t agree with the behavior that has been shown on the campus … I totally understand that people are upset, but I don’t think this was handled in the right way at all. This behavior was actually encouraged. Because of this, I feel that people are becoming more violent and the campus is becoming a more unsafe place.

I have been to several meetings to speak. I have been told several times that I am not allowed to speak because I am white. This school seems to focus so much on race that it is becoming racist in a different sort of way. Because I choose not to focus on race, I have actually been labeled a racist and a white supremacist. If anyone took the time to actually get to know me, that’s not true at all, but that’s what I’ve been labeled as.

Elissa Goss – Evergreen alumnus

As a queer woman I grew up in rural Texas, Evergreen was my safe place all during high school as I waited to get finally get here. But for many students, this is not a safe place, especially for students, staff, and faculty of color … Without a basis in anti-racism and anti-oppression, we perpetuate harm as graduates with the systems and the knowledge we learn by perpetuating the very things we were so critical of in our classrooms.

Goss asked that student protesters not be punished for their actions.

Protests are to Evergreen what football is to WSU, it’s not going anywhere. Protests are part of our fabric. Protesting as a student was a part of my educational experience. I wish I had at least 2 credits in it.

Steve Kaufmann – student

My concern is the leadership and communication this college has shown during these events. There is no question there is actual equity gaps and problems across the country. There is no question that we are living in a time of great racial and social strife. Those are not up for debate. What I do think is up for debate is that there was a lack of cohesive immediate leadership demonstrated by the college after the events.

…except to placate a limited part, of a limited side of one single political spectrum. The college is not representing everybody here. They are representing a small portion of the college and that does not even necessarily represent the groups they claim to support.

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