Incoming Evergreen Students Engage with Community during Early Start to Fall Quarter

September 15, 2015

A highlight of the week involves a day in downtown Olympia and at the Capitol this morning (September 15). The group will start out at the isthmus, discussing the future of Capitol Lake with two distinct nonprofit organizations, the Capitol Lake Improvement and Protection Association and the Deschutes Estuary Restoration Team.

In the afternoon, the students will meet in a Senate hearing room for a moderated conversation with two millennial legislators from two parties, Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon, D, LD-34, Burien and Rep. Melanie Stambaugh, R, LD-25, Puyallup. Later that afternoon journalist Austin Jenkins of Northwest Public Radio and TVW will give a talk entitled “Smash Mouth; Making Headlines or Making Change?”

During this first week on campus, the ESCEI students will also do volunteer work for Books to Prisoners and GRuB, learn conflict resolutions skills from the Dispute Resolution Center of Thurston County, and meet with Evergreen’s incoming president, George Bridges as well as former Washington Governor and Evergreen President, Dan Evans, and the college foundation’s Board of Governors. Said McLain, “The idea is to bring the students to campus and help them jumpstart their careers as student leaders and team builders, to give them tools to contribute to a society with big, complicated problems.” McLain wants students to explore and cultivate humility, empathy, persistence, hope, patience, self-reflection, and a commitment to embracing complexity, or, as he puts it, “the habits of civility and democratic engagement.”

Inspired by Evergreen Trustee and donor Fred Goldberg, who felt strongly that civic engagement and civil dialogue should be integral aspects of a college education, ESCEI was launched thanks to Goldberg’s generosity in 2013. The institute gives students alternate paradigms to the often-polarized and frustrating levels of American discourse.“

At ESCEI students hear various, even opposing views from leaders and organizations that then move forward to work together successfully,” said Evergreen Academic Vice President and Provost, Michael Zimmerman. “To be able to observe and then model this is so important in our times.” Said Goldberg, “Civic engagement and conversations about difficult issues are core values at Evergreen. I wanted to help new students get involved in ways that allow them to see challenging topics from multiple perspectives. The first-year students who have participated in ESCEI have gone on to be campus leaders and will be leaders in their communities too.”

Incoming first year students apply for the 50 slots and pay $475 for the institute, though scholarships are available up to the full amount.