Ensuring Safety, Equity, and Free Speech at Evergreen

Recent discussions, disruptions, and events around issues of equity and free speech have generated inquiries from the Evergreen community, media, and the public. Here is some information on topics of interest.

June 21, 2017

Campus safety

Campus safety is our number-one priority. Law enforcement is present on campus 24 hours a day. Safety is essential to our core work at Evergreen, which is teaching and learning.

The college operates in close consultation with law enforcement and will respond swiftly if there is a threat to safety.

Free speech and expression

Evergreen has always been a college that embraces difficult issues through dialogue and debate, and has long been a destination for students interested in advocacy and activism. 

  • Evergreen values freedom of speech and expression for all our students, faculty, and staff. While we can sometimes disagree, we understand that dissent should be fully compatible with empathy, dignity, and respect.
  • We must prioritize civil discourse and hold each other accountable in doing so. Unless we listen to understand the viewpoints of others, rather than listening to react, we will not fulfill Evergreen’s mission to learn across significant differences. 
  • At no time has the college deprived faculty member Bret Weinstein of his right to speak out. Weinstein remains a member of Evergreen’s faculty, and we will continue to support freedom of speech for all members of the Evergreen community. The college does not and will not terminate the employment of any faculty member in response to a request.

Promoting equity and inclusion

We understand the unique, individual roles that each of us play at Evergreen. That’s why we are committed to fostering and encouraging a diverse and inclusive body of students, faculty, and staff – from a wide range of backgrounds and perspectives. We must treat each other with respect and care.

  • Discrimination, as defined by Chapter 49.60 of the Revised Code of Washington, of any form is not acceptable or tolerated on our campus.
  • All college policies are in writing in accordance with Washington state law.
  • As a result of discussions over the past year, the college has increased the college’s equal opportunity staffer to full time, boosted annual training for campus police officers, and expanded services in our multicultural advising center. Evergreen will soon hire its first vice president for equity and inclusion, a college leadership position now common on campuses across the U.S.
  • We are actively taking steps to further advance equity and inclusion at Evergreen.

Accountability for staff, faculty, and students

The Evergreen State College asks all members of the community to participate in the college’s social contract which prizes academic and interpersonal honesty, conveys our commitment to resolving differences with a strong will toward collaboration, and protects community values and individual rights.

Staff and faculty conduct at Evergreen is guided by state and college policies, as well as collective bargaining agreements. 

The student conduct code, also known as Washington Administrative Code 174-123 defines prohibited conduct, lays out specific timelines and procedures for review of behavior, and describes possible sanctions.

Students are being investigated for possible violations of the student conduct code. These possible violations took place after the events of May 23 and 24. If they are found to have violated the code, sanctions range from a written reprimand to expulsion.

Everyone is welcome on campus

No students, faculty, or staff have ever been asked to leave campus based on race or background.

Since the 1970s, some members of the Evergreen community have annually participated in two optional activities, Day of Absence and Day of Presence. Designed to address current issues surrounding race at Evergreen and beyond, these activities are inspired by the 1965 play “Day of Absence” by African-American playwright Douglas Turner Ward.

Participation in Day of Absence and Day of Presence always has been, and always will be, entirely optional.

Timeline of events

May 23 and 24: Demonstrations on campus

  • Student demonstrations took place on Tuesday, May 23 and Wednesday, May 24.
  • Both demonstrations were nonviolent and took place during business hours in isolated areas of the college.
  • Officers from the Thurston County Sheriff’s office briefly visited campus on the morning of Tuesday, May 23, in support of Evergreen Police Services. No citations were issued by police.

June 1-2: Suspended operations

  • An external call-in threat toward Evergreen was received by the Thurston County Communications Center (TCOMM 911) early in the day on Thursday, June 1.
  • To ensure the safety of our students, faculty, and staff, Evergreen President George Bridges made the cautionary decision to immediately close the Olympia campus and suspend operations.
  • Suspended operations continued through Friday, June 2 so law enforcement could evaluate the necessary information and nature of the threat.

June 3: Campus reopens

  • Law enforcement teams searched campus buildings to ensure they were secure. They determined that no one was actively posing a threat.
  • Once the campus was determined safe, Evergreen President George Bridges made the decision to reopen campus and lift suspended operations on Saturday, June 3.

June 5: Suspended operations and reopen

  • Evergreen’s Olympia campus suspended operations on Monday, June 5, while law enforcement officials reviewed new external threat information received over the previous weekend.
  • After consultation with law enforcement, a determination was made of no active threat to campus, and campus re-opened at 3 p.m. 

Please contact us if you want to learn more: