About 80 Protesters Sanctioned After Evergreen State College Unrest


About 80 protesters have been sanctioned for breaking the student conduct code at The Evergreen State College in Olympia last spring, when race-related protests broke out on campus, college officials say.

About 120 incident reports involving 180 students were filed during the campus unrest, college spokeswoman Sandra Kaiser told The Olympian.

"Of those 180 students, approximately 80 were found responsible for their actions," she said. "They received sanctions ranging from formal warnings, community service and probation, to suspension."

The students were adjudicated using the student conduct code during spring and summer quarters, she said.

In addition, non-students who were involved in the disruptions were issued criminal trespass warnings, and one person was "subsequently arrested and permanently barred from campus," said college spokesman Zach Powers.

Evergreen is no stranger to protests, but college president George Bridges said some students went too far in May when they interrupted faculty member Bret Weinstein's class, and a day later pushed furniture against doors to create barricades during a takeover of the library building.

The nearly 4,000-student college made national headlines as students protested, alleging institutional racism. Weinstein, who had criticized the college's equity action plan and a change to the format of the campus's annual "Day of Absence/Day of Presence," became a target for demonstrators at the liberal arts school and a folk hero for conservative news outlets.

The Day of Absence/Day of Presence activity is based on a play about an imaginary Southern town in which all black people disappear for a day to demonstrate their contribution to society. Evergreen has held the event for many years, and last spring, instead of having students of color go off campus, organizers invited white students to stay off campus for the day.

Weinstein objected, saying the activity was "a show of force, and an act of oppression in and of itself."

Some faculty members said they felt Weinstein's actions were racist, and that his appearance on conservative news outlets brought unwanted attention to the campus. During the protests, students called for Bridges to fire Weinstein.

But racial tension at the college had been brewing for months. Demonstrations disrupted last year's convocation and a ceremony dedicating a remodeled building to former president Les Purce, as well as a swearing-in ceremony for the former campus police chief.

Near the end of the semester, Evergreen was closed for three days because of threats from people who were opposed to the student protests, and officials elected to move its graduation ceremony off campus.

This summer, Weinstein and his wife Heather Heying, who also was on Evergreen's faculty, filed a tort claim -- a prerequisite to a lawsuit against a state agency -- stating that the college failed to "protect its employees from repeated provocative and corrosive verbal and written hostility based on race, as well as threats of physical violence."

Two weeks ago, they received a $450,000 settlement and $50,000 in legal fees from the college. In exchange, they left their jobs and the college, and the college didn't admit liability.


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