Tolerance and Respect Show the Way Forward

May 27, 2017
First day of spring quarter

A statement from Evergreen President George Bridges

May 27, 2017

At The Evergreen State College over the past week, we have had deep and sometimes intense exchanges among a group of students, faculty, and college administrators over equity and treatment of students. Some students on campus experience racism that interferes with their education. Others, including faculty, believe their freedom of expression is being restricted.

These are important issues. Discrimination of any form is not acceptable or tolerated on our campus. Free speech must be fostered and encouraged. We are an institution dedicated to learning. We must treat each other with respect and care. Every faculty member, student, and staff member must have the freedom to speak openly about their views.

Unless we continually seek to listen and to understand, rather than listening to react, we will not fulfill Evergreen’s mission to learn across differences.

We may disagree with each other. However, disagreement is one thing; dehumanization is another. Over the week, a few members of the Evergreen community have used traditional and social media to malign, mock, or misrepresent those with whom they disagree.

While the majority of students, faculty, and staff are fully engaged in the teaching and learning work of the college, a few are on a destructive course of action that hurts themselves and gives a distorted and false impression of our community.

This behavior is wrong and must stop. It does not represent us, and we will not allow it to define us. 

Our students are as always Evergreen’s top priority. We must continue to support our faculty and staff, who are educators by intent, action, and example. Evergreen Police Services will remain an essential part of ensuring safety for all.  Campus remains open and classes are in session.

Conversations about equity and free speech will continue. These are incredibly complex issues to navigate. We at Evergreen have the courage to try. With tolerance and respect, my belief is that we can succeed, and continue to learn from each other.