Published On: Fri, Feb 16th, 2018

‘Anti-free speech’ ‘racist’ Evergreen State College admission down nearly twenty percent

A national organization that promotes First Amendment rights on campus has labeled The Evergreen State College as one of the 10 worst in the country for free speech.

The Foundation for Independent Rights in Education (FIRE) said Evergreen made the list for censoring a professor who objected to an event designed to raise awareness of racial equality.

photo Jennifer Moo via Flickr

“Protest is good. Censorship is not,” FIRE officials wrote. “Disagreeing over how to stand up for diversity is not a good reason to intimidate or attempt to silence anyone.”

In a statement, Evergreen officials said the college “has always been a college that embraces difficult issues through dialogue and debate. We value the freedom of speech and expression of all our students, faculty, and staff. Throughout the events on our campus last spring our commitment to the freedom of speech of our faculty members, staff and students remained steadfast.”

Now the president of the embattled Evergreen State College is predicting that the public institution will see a nearly 20 percent drop in student enrollment come fall, according to a new report by The College Fix.

“Beneath the surface, there’s far more variety of opinion at the college than we give ourselves credit for,” President George Bridges said to The Fix, explaining that Evergreen is “doubling down on efforts to recruit older, non traditional students, as opposed to straight from high school.”

The Fix notes that “This demographic includes adults outside of traditional college age, as well as returning-to-college students. To that end, Evergreen officials have developed a mass marketing campaign expected to be launched soon to target potential adult students within a multi-county region.”

The public liberal-arts college in Olympia became the focus of national media attention last spring after a biology professor, Bret Weinstein, questioned an event called Day of Absence, in which white students who chose to participate were asked to go off campus to discuss race issues, while students of color remained on campus.

Weinstein called the event “a show of force, and an act of oppression.”

He was confronted outside his classroom by at least 50 students, who called him a racist and demanded he be fired. Later, protesting students took over the campus library and held Bridges there for several hours.

Adam Goldstein, the Robert H. Jackson legal fellow at FIRE, said the organization defends the rights of students to protest, “but what went wrong at Evergreen was when that protest escalated to both disruptive behavior and intimidation.”

Goldstein said he believed the students had an “intellectual disagreement” with Weinstein, but that shouting him down and demanding that he be fired is “an astonishing, illiberal way to handle a philosophical difference.”

FIRE also believes the school administration handled the dispute poorly because it did not swiftly discipline students involved in the incidents, he said.

So is the admission down because the liberal student pool views the school as racist or is the admission down due to the anti-free speech label – seems like a lose-lose for Evergreen.

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About the Author

- Catherine "Kaye" Wonderhouse, a proud descendant of the Wunderhaus family is the Colorado Correspondent who will add more coverage, interviews and reports from this midwest area.

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