Public Safety at The Evergreen State College
In the wake of spring’s disruptions, Evergreen leadership, along with students, staff and faculty, have been working in the following areas to improve community safety:
Developing Policies to Protect Campus from External Threats
- Institution of a campus weapons prohibition in the Washington Administrative Code, which governs policies at Evergreen.
- Institution of rules requiring external visitors who want to use campus for free speech activities do so in ways consistent with safety.
Administering and Improving the Student Conduct Code
- Throughout last year and this summer, a group of students, faculty, staff and students have worked together to recommend revisions in the code. Those recommendations will be considered and reviewed for adoption by early 2018.
- Students received a message the first week of fall quarter, reminding them of Evergreen’s expectations around conduct and what they may expect if they violate the college’s policies and disrupt or obstruct campus operations as described in this Guide to Free Speech Activity.
- Students who violated the student conduct code following the spring protests have been adjudicated and found responsible for their actions. Of these, some were suspended from Evergreen. Others received sanctions ranging from warnings to probation, depending upon the severity of their actions.
- Students who were involved in other disruptions during the year were also adjudicated for their actions.
- Non-students who were involved in the disruptions were issued criminal-trespass warnings. One was subsequently arrested and permanently barred from campus.
- All students enrolled on the Olympia campus this past spring received an email in July notifying them of the seriousness of some of the actions that occurred on May 23 and May 24, and advising that similar conduct in the future will be adjudicated through our code and, if appropriate, the criminal justice system.
Strengthening Police Services and our Local Partnerships
- In July, Ed Sorger was named Interim Chief of Evergreen Police Services. He previously served as Evergreen Police Chief from 2006 to 2016 and has returned to lead our law enforcement and support the college.
- The Thurston County Sheriff, Olympia Police, Washington State Patrol and other law enforcement officials are coordinating with Evergreen Police Services to quickly evaluate any possible threats and ensure the college has the back-up support necessary to maintain safety for all on campus.
- Evergreen is improving training, equipment and staffing for our law enforcement, to increase the ability to keep all our community safe. A request for funding support has been made to the Washington State Legislature.
- In August, Evergreen welcomed John Vinson, chief of the University of Washington’s campus police and a national expert on college policing, to advise on best measures around campus security, recruiting a permanent police chief, and how non-commissioned community service officers might also support our safety efforts.
- Specific actions taken by Evergreen Police Services during the spring are also being reviewed by Evergreen’s Police Services Community Review Board, which consists of faculty, staff and students.
Understanding the Past and Planning for the Future
- Evergreen is increasing community safety training and simulations, including training in the event of an active shooter on campus and de-escalation techniques for tense or hostile situations. We are reminding all of evacuation protocol in the event of campus closure.
- The college is conducting a post-incident analysis of actions taken during events in May and June, with a goal of improving and anticipating potential needs for additional resources and support. After that analysis, an external review team made of individuals recognized for expertise in higher education will work independently from Evergreen to assess information around the spring events and examine the college’s work since then.
- Over the summer the college hired a group of student equity advisors who provided recommendations about improvements to the administration, reviewed the Student Conduct Code, and worked with college officials on improving communications between students, faculty and staff.
Campus Safety Notes
- Students, staff, and faculty with questions or comments about campus safety may contact Emergency Response Planning Coordinator Bill Mikesell or Interim Chief of Evergreen Police Services Ed Sorger.
- Media with questions about campus safety may contact Communications and Public Relations Zach Powers.
- Releases issued by the college addressing events of spring 2017, including statements from President George Bridges and the Evergreen Board of Trustees, are available in the Evergreen News Archive.