Much has been said about the systemic problems lurking in America’s centers of higher learning. Perhaps too much. But Evergreen State’s not-so-evergreen status as of late highlights the financial risks of letting radical ideology go unchecked.
It got really bad last year at Evergreen State. Their yearly “Day of Absence,” a protest meant to emphasize the value that visible minorities add to the school, morphed into something misguided.
The “Day of Absence” is an Evergreen tradition that stretches back to the 1970s. As Mr. Weinstein explained on Wednesday in The Wall Street Journal, “in previous years students and faculty of color organized a day on which they met off campus — a symbolic act based on the Douglas Turner Ward play in which all the black residents of a Southern town fail to show up one morning.” This year, the script was flipped: “White students, staff and faculty will be invited to leave campus for the day’s activities,” reported the student newspaper on the change. The decision was made after students of color “voiced concern over feeling as if they are unwelcome on campus, following the 2016 election.” (The New York Times)
Evergreen professor Bret Weinstein was genuinely concerned about the direction of his school. He wasn’t some staunch conservative, looking his nose down at progressive ideas. He was one of them. Weinstein embraced students of color’s voluntary absence from the campus in order to uphold a racial message. That year, however, they were denying an entire group—based on skin color—from even attending classes. A very big difference.
So, what happened? Did the students appreciate his message and open their minds to Weinstein? Nope!
After besieging Weinstein in his classroom, student protesters proceeded to hold school President George Bridges and several other administrators hostage in the president's office, temporarily refusing even to let Bridges use the bathroom unless he agreed to adopt their demands for additional diversity-related initiatives. (Campus Reform)
Surprise, surprise! Entitled, spoiled snowflakes threw a temper tantrum! God forbid a person—an experienced, educated professor at that—question the mob mentality of modern social justice. These were students, what the hell did they know? Yet they’ve been conditioned to think that, when it comes to race, their feelings mattered more than the truth. Thanks to the ideology they had been fed in colleges like Evergreen.
It was an ugly turn of events. And it didn’t seem like the school handled it very well. After something like that, a school needs to take a good hard look at how it conducts itself. Perhaps reform your message, invite free thought back onto the campus. Confront this culture of hostility, knowing it will otherwise produce a group of people completely unwilling—and unprepared—to deal with the real world.
It doesn’t seem like Evergreen State took advantage of that opportunity. Because a year after the fact, things aren’t looking good.
Evergreen State College is eliminating dozens of staff positions as it struggles to cope with plummeting enrollment in the wake of the protests that engulfed campus last year.
John Carmichael, the chief of staff and secretary to the Evergreen State College Board of Trustees, announced in a memo to staff and faculty members on Tuesday that the school has already cut 24 faculty lines and eliminated 19 vacant staff positions, and warned that up to 20 additional staff members could be laid off. (Campus Reform)
Well, look at that. It seems like high school graduates would rather not attend a school that welcomes such radical ideas. When looking over their options, I’m sure students weren’t impressed by a school that would allow students to besiege a teacher over his common-sense comments. Or prevent the president from even leaving his office.
Perhaps they behaved that way due to what they were learning at school?
It would be very easy to gloat, but that’s not the point. This is a clear cause and effect situation. Evergreen pushed unwise changes to their “Day of Absence” without considering that the message behind voluntary absence is far different than telling certain students NOT to come to campus. Then they allowed students to riot when their tactics were inevitably questioned.
There is an obvious lesson to be learned. College is a time for students to be exposed to new ideas. It is fine to have progressive ideas discussed on campus. But pushing a radical agenda—or harassing students because of their race or politics—is completely unacceptable. College is not a place for discrimination or suppression of thought.
Much of America shares the sentiment. And prospective students will seek better places for their education. That means a sharp drop in those tasty funds.
Maybe the rest of our colleges and universities will learn from this episode. Perhaps we will see free thought and discussion return to our schools. Maybe black and white students can actually discuss issues without hostility.
All I know is, if the schools don’t provide those forums, we’ll find them elsewhere.