Matt Manweller: Evergreen must change or it will ‘die’

Sep 28, 2017, 7:46 PM | Updated: Sep 29, 2017, 11:27 am
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Washington State Representative Matt Manweller. (Washington House Republicans)
(Washington House Republicans)

Despite a controversial and racially charged spring quarter, Representative Matt Manweller has dropped his efforts to cut off Evergreen State College from Washington, but he says the fight is still on and warns that the problems go far beyond campus.

Proving that point, he says, are emails from Evergreen professors recently obtained by the Wall Street Journal. They describe professors’ experiences with mobs of students and allegations of racism.

RELATED: Lawmaker wants to approach Evergreen with “carrot and stick”

“The things that are coming out of Evergreen (State College) are part of the mainstream of the new Democratic Party,” Manweller told KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson. “You think it’s radical. I think it’s radical, but if you are a Bernie Sanders supporter and you hear the things that come out of those emails at Evergreen, you think that’s middle of the road.”

Manweller argues that a bill he supported last session — which would transition Evergreen from a public institution into a private college — didn’t make it far because some lawmakers in Olympia share the same culture as the college.

“Why would they defund the university that is preaching to the choir and promoting soldiers for the coming Socialist revolution?” he asked.

Evergreen’s ongoing problems

Controversy at Evergreen erupted during the spring quarter when students protested and taunted professors. The issues revolved largely around race. Professor Brent Weinstein — a Liberal educator — brought up concerns and was quickly attacked with accusations of racism. Protests ensued, threats were called into campus by people who opposed the protests, and the college was shut down for days.

Weinstein received $500,000 in a settlement with the college. The emails from other professors imply the situation at Evergreen goes deeper,” Manweller said. Another professor, for example, reports she was followed around campus by students. She was berated and prevented from leaving. Manweller claims he has emails sent to him from Evergreen faculty describing similar issues, but they are afraid to speak up.

“(The emails) confirmed what I suspected, which was that Evergreen doesn’t have a problem with its rules, or its code of conduct, or even its police department,” Manweller said. “Evergreen has a cultural problem.”

“You have seen — for about 20-30 years — professors hiring other professors who only think like themselves (and) deans not coming from the outside, but deans being a part of the professoriat,” he said. “What you’ve created is an incredibly dense bubble where these folks only encounter folks exactly like themselves … and any type of dissent is just seen as heresy. It almost raises to a religious fervor, ‘How dare you challenge the existence of my universe’s view?’”

Evergreen has since hired a new provost from outside its organization. It also hired a new police chief, adopted a new code of conduct and new disciplinary procedures, Manweller notes. About 20 students were suspended after the spring quarter and students are now required to take a course on civil discourse.

“At the end of the day, it’s not the change of rules that will change Evergreen, it’s going to be the market,” Manweller said. “What we are seeing is that they have experienced a decrease in enrollment, and almost all of it is from out of state.”

“If they are losing revenue and they are losing students, they will change and adapt,” he said. “And if they don’t, they will die. They will die not because of any action I take as a legislator, they will die because no one will walk through their door and pay tuition money voluntarily.”

Dori Monson on KIRO Radio 97.3 FM
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Matt Manweller: Evergreen must change or it will ‘die’