Monday, May 29, 2017

The Protests at Evergreen State College, Un-Foxed

Right wing media sources have been all ablaze in the past few days with stories about PC-inspired thuggery at Evergreen State College.  Unfortunately, there hasn’t been objective reporting on these events to set the record straight, and unless saner voices speak out there is a risk the Fox version will be the only one most people know.

I teach at Evergreen, and I have been present for most of the fireworks (and the slow burn that preceded it).  I’m no expert, but I also have no particular axe to grind.

Although racial issues have been a part of Evergreen’s history from the beginning, the last year has seen a significant increase in tensions.  A group of faculty and staff, initially calling themselves the Diversity and Equity (now the Equity and Inclusion) Council, formed to spearhead a drive for reforms.  They had difficulty agreeing on just what needed to be done, but they converged on a demand for annual mandatory diversity training for all faculty.  This proved to be divisive and did not get majority support at a faculty meeting, leading to a sense of frustration and polarization.  Social justice activists came away convinced that discussion and persuasion were fruitless, and only a top-down, administration-led approach would get results.  This in turn exacerbated tensions with faculty who were concerned about a more general drift away from faculty governance at the institution.

One consequence was an email battle, which quickly devolved into the Council and its supporters against a lone “anti” voice, Bret Weinstein, an evolutionary biologist.  Using a campus-wide list, Weinstein repeatedly argued that the Council was imposing an atmosphere of intimidation, a claim with an element of truth but which was delivered with what can charitably be described as insufficient awareness of his own assumptions and biases about race and racism.

The triggering event on the email front was a decision to alter the format of the college’s Day of Absence/Day of Presence observation in 2017.  DOA/DOP is a longstanding college tradition.  On DOA students, staff and faculty of color are invited to meet off campus to discuss the state of racial awareness and progress; on DOP everyone is invited to discuss these issues together.  For the current iteration it was decided to encourage those of color to meet on campus during DOP and invite others to a small, limited capacity off-campus event, a symbolic “flip”.  No one was required to do anything; it was all about invitation.  This seems to have pushed a button for Weinstein, who responded with an email (falsely) attacking the organizers for instructing whites to leave campus, a charge he embedded in a more sweeping claim of reverse racism.  The email wars heated up and then subsided; for several weeks it appeared the matter had been dropped.

But meanwhile a number of students of color and their supporters were organizing behind the scenes.  They were upset about several incidents involving the campus police, particularly one in which two black students were taken into custody following a heated verbal exchange over racial issues in the student cafeteria.  There was also buzz among students that a number of the faculty were displaying racial and gender bias in the classroom and anger about Weinstein’s email.  Last week they launched their protest by invading Weinstein’s class and shouting at him to either apologize or resign.  Someone (Weinstein says it was a student, the protesters say it was Weinstein) called the campus police, and further ugliness ensued.  (This has all been captured on video.)  Then the protesters moved on to the administrative offices of the college and engaged in an off-and-on sit-in.  No police were called in response to this.  Protesting students also disbanded a faculty meeting and herded the faculty to the site of their sit-ins, apparently worried about a police attack and hopeful that faculty presence would forestall it.

The immediate effect for Weinstein was banishment from the campus.  Students peppered the buildings with graffiti denouncing him as a racist, and campus police told him he should stay away for his own safety.  He held classes with his students off-campus.  There may also have been threats against some of his students, but protesters deny this charge, and the truth can’t be determined at this point.

The email war reignited, and one of the faculty most closely associated with the protests posted a message on Facebook that was at best ill-advised in its vituperation against Weinstein’s partner (also an Evergreen faculty member).  Meanwhile, Weinstein did himself no favors by agreeing to be interviewed for Fox News, during which he made exaggerated claims about the situation on campus.

George Bridges, the president of the college, has responded to the protests by supporting a number of initiatives (including the mandatory diversity trainings), but also demanding that personal attacks cease.

My purpose in relaying this information is to provide as objective a narrative as possible.  I have strong views of my own, but I’ve kept them out.  All I want to say at this point is that racial injustice is a pressing issue at Evergreen, I appreciate the attention students have brought to it, but I also think they have barely scratched the surface of the real problems, and a lot of the behavior on all sides has been unhelpful.

61 comments:

Bruce Wilder said...

Students seldom appreciate the role their own rootlessness in the campus community and youthful energy play in making them available for the mischief of others.

rosserjb@jmu.edu said...

Thanks for your account, Peter. I heard some of the earlier elements of this from you in person at ASSA in January. I am sorry that it has developed into this, which seems to have involved a lot of hard to defend behavior on the part of a lot of people involved.

I am an FB friend of Weinstein's mathematician brother, Eric, who strongly supports his brother and has posted some video of events at Evergreen. I have tried to watch some of it, but frankly found it confusing and I was unable to figure out what was going on from it, making me unable to share his outrage and all that. Oh well.

ProGrowthLiberal said...

Peter - thanks for this account. As an example of how the right wing is spinning this, here is a Breitbart story featuring Tucker Carlson:

http://www.breitbart.com/tech/2017/05/29/evergreen-state-college-president-gives-into-demands-of-leftist-student-protesters/

If Tucker claims something - it must be false.

rickstersherpa@msn.com said...

Tucker & Brit Hume of course compare the students & their actions to the Portland knife attacker. Being called names by a leftie is just as bad as a rightie cutting throats. Still, its a poor tactic to demand the summary termination of a teacher (it creates a precedent for the summary expulsion of students at the administration's discretion).

rosserjb@jmu.edu said...

Peter,

Eric Weinstein has just posted on FB that the NY Times has reported that the Evergreen campus has been closed due to some sort of threat. Care to tell us what you know from being there, please, given that there seems to be at least some misreporting at the national level of events there?

Kevin said...

If you were really being honest here you would describe how the students verbally assaulted not only Professor Weinstein but President Bridges too. There is simply no excuse for the outrageous tantrums of the students. And the fact the Administration captitulated to the students' bullying tactics reflects very poorly on Evergreen. I've donated thousands of dollars to Evergreen over the years but will not contribute another dime to a college that enables such childish and violent behavior.

David Sucher said...

Not impressed with your recounting.
Not credible.
Too much spin.
As a WA State voter, I will urge the Legislature to hold hearings, especially th request by faculty to put Weinstein on trial.
Crazy!

Peter Dorman said...

I'm not going to respond to flames about Evergreen. I certainly have my personal views, which, as my account indicates, are mixed. Readers can watch the videos of the students and make up their own minds; they don't need me to explain any of it. My main concern has been to debunk the now widely believed view that the dispute arose because the college ordered/asked/suggested whites in general to absent themselves from campus for a day. That never happened. Period. I was there in all my whiteness and have some sense of the reality.

The campus was closed this week for two days due to a phoned-in threat; someone claimed he was on his way to the college to shoot as many people as possible. The feeling now is that the campus is clear, and it will reopen for the weekend. (This is important because there are weekend classes, also because next week is the final week of the quarter, and lots of students are storming to get their term projects done.)

As I mentioned in my interview with the Chronicle of Higher Ed, there is a lot of polarization among the faculty as well as the students over the events of the past week or so. I have no way to take a head count to determine if there's a majority on one side or the other, so I won't speculate.

Another factor, highlighted by the threat of violence, is that the crazies are making themselves known. Several faculty and students have received death threats and hate-drenched emails.

There is a lot of momentum for further conflict, but I hope it can be put to the side at least temporarily for graduation ceremonies and in the shared interest of the college.

David Sucher said...

Important to remember that the professor never claimed that leaving was a requirement… He made that very clear in some interviews on the Internet and he was very persuasive.

You can characterize my remark as a flame; if you like ok, tho I am sorry you see it that way. I'm just offering my opinion.

I think that the letter from a number of the faculty, (and I don't know how many there are total), was very unwise; demanding that Weinstein be put on trial is not going to do anything for the reputation of the faculty. It's a totally preposterous idea and anyone who supports it looks very silly. To the general public the guy looks like a slightly pedantic academic (hey! He is an academic !) but very mild. I don't agree with his politics at all but the idea that he's done something wrong is absolutely nuts. You may not agree with him but he's got a total right to say it. If the faculty outvotes him on College business, fine. That's how organizations work.

But to attack him… Very bad move on the faculty part, much less for the students.

Best of luck to you, I think you will need it.


Peter Dorman said...

No one has proposed putting Bret "on trial". He hasn't broken any laws. Some faculty think he should be investigated for violating Evergreen's own "social contract", a document that establishes our obligations to each other, for taking his case to Fox. The argument is that this endangers the college in general and has attracted the attention of the alt-right crowd who are now responsible for the upsurge in personal threats.

Some people I respect make this argument; I don't. But I think it was terrible for Bret to go to the outlets he went to, and I think he has a personal responsibility to correct the false impression he gave about whites being asked to leave campus. An off-campus event with a 200 seat capacity was planned for a college of 3800 students plus faculty, staff, etc. Really.

David Sucher said...

1. A "disciplinary investigation" equals a trial… I don't mean before Thurston County Court… But he'll need to hire a lawyer.
2. Democratic pols look like deer in the headlight and without wise but ffirm action Inslee et al are gonna look very bad… Which means the Democratic Party looks bad… Which means Trump looks better… Which is very very bad

Kevin said...

Peter, I'll ask you two simple questions: would you scream at, hurl profanities at, and verbally abuse a loved one or close companion - spouse, child, friend, work colleague - in the same manner as the students did to both Professor Weinstein and President Bridges? If not, why is Evergreen College tolerating such abusive behavior by the students?

Kevin said...

It also sounds like you're making excuses for the students' highly inappropriate behavior. They may have some legitimate beefs. But that does not give them liscense to abuse others. You know as well as I that if an employee behaved that way at work they would be summarily fired. There is simply no good excuse for the students treating a professor and the college president no less in such a contemptible manner. By rationalizing their actions you are coddling them.

Kevin said...

What has endangered Evergreen is an unruly mob of coddled students throwing tantrums.

Kevin said...

David, you're absolutely right. Bret is being put on trial - a witch hunt, really. What Peter and other Evergreen faculty fail to realize is major donors like me have pulled our funding for Evergreen. I've spoken with my Evergreen alum and they, too, have said they will withhold contributions to the college. They more the college crucifies Bret the more support Evergreen will lose. My wife and I were set to make another $30,000 donation this year to Evergreen. We will never give another penny to an institution that rewards abusive, hysterical behavior by students. And if someone with Evergreen on his/her resume applies for a position at my firm the resume goes straight to the trash bin.

David Sucher said...

I am very glad to hear that, Kevin.

I know that I am prepared to donate to a legal defense fund… Lawyers are very expensive and he will need a good one, since the State has very good lawyers...and I don't know if he has resources but I think a lot of people will be very willing to contribute if he needs the help .… And I'll repeat it again: I'm a liberal Democrat, fwiw.

I hope that cooler heads prevail and that the administration puts a total kibosh on any "investigation". That faculty letter this morning June 2 was extremely stupid and simply escalated matters.

Peter Dorman said...

Repeat: I have never condoned or justified the behavior of any Evergreen students, or Brett's comments either. I have definite opinions on these things, but they are for discussion with my colleagues. To the extent that I represent the institution in a forum like this, and I suppose I do, I need to take that responsibility seriously.

I would, however, like to relate an experience I had today. I was chatting with a neighbor, someone who, as far as I can tell, does not have strong political views. She is aware of the goings on at Evergreen, at least through newspaper headlines and watching the videos of screaming students. Her view, if I understood it correctly, is something like this: isn't it the job of the college to raise up the standards of the students? But the students were misbehaving, so shouldn't the college stop backing down and tell them to stop?

It's a pretty basic meme, and now that I'm looking for it I see variations on it everywhere. The college hasn't even tried to respond to this narrative.

David Sucher said...

If I think I understand what she was saying, I am 100% behind.

Evergreen leadership needs IMHO to speak wisely and _firmly_. Ok for students:
1. Fact-based rallies, complaints, demonstrations? Sure
2. Violence, coercion, browbeating, threatening? No!

Kevin said...

Peter, Evergreen President Bridges needs to issue a firm and unwavering statement that the behavior of the students was in violation of the school's code of conduct. Unfortunately, in the videos where students are browbeating him about him using his hands and hurling profanities at him it appears President Bridges has no intentions of disciplining the students. By capitulating to their demands he has essentially rewarded childish, outlandish, and boorish behavior. In doing so he has done his students no favours because they certainly won't get away with such antics in the real world.

Kevin said...

I've been contacting other Evergreen high donors and we all have agreed to withhold our funding. If Professor Weinstein needs assistance for legal representation then I will help coordinate efforts to help him. The Evergreen donors with whom I've spoken are livid at what they see as the Administration's total acquiescence to student mob rule. We are determined to send Evergreen a very firm message that we will no longer support a college that rewards such awful behavior. Evergreen has become an embarrassment.

Chuck said...

Based on what I have seen of the E-mail for "Day of Absence" Professor Weinstein's assessment and objections were correct. Your school worded that E-mail as a demand that Whites not show up to campus that day along with the threat that anyone who did not participate would not be considered an "ally" and by extension would therefore be racist. The reaction of your students to his objections proves that. The protesters at your school are behaving in a racist manner. They are threatening faculty and students. They even went so far as to effectively kidnap your President and instead of resisting them and having those who kidnapped him properly charged and arrested he has capitulated to the demands of the students. Allowing your students to get away with this is poisoning liberalism and progressivism and turning it into what it has vowed to correct. The behavior of your school is an embarrassment.

Peter Dorman said...

Chuck, please see my earlier post about DOA. You have a right to form your own opinion but not your own facts. *I was there.* I followed the whole email thread, and I know most of the principals personally. Repeat: the campus was crawling with white people that day, and no one tried to make them feel unwelcome. A single off-campus event attracted less than 5% of the community. None of my students attended it. To honor DOA we read and discussed an essay by James Baldwin, a break from our regular study of water ecology and resource management in the Pacific Northwest.

Anonymous said...

Peter,
Why is Weinstein talking to Fox News and writing in WSJ somehow not acceptable but other people (including you) writing summaries, opinions, whatever in blogs or other places OK? Seems either the school advocates a news blackout. Or the school advocates that wise and learned people can publicly state their positions and something like the truth will win out.

It seems the this reader that Evergreens basic problem is that those advocating some kind of social justice position (where, they get define what is justice) do not like their position,behavior and advocates seeing public scrutiny.

David Sucher said...

It really doesn't matter if the attempt worked or not. Bret was concerned that a "suggestion" to leave could become a de facto requirement to prove one anti-racist.

And whether his fear&statement were wise/accurate or not is totally irrelevant.

The issue is his Constitutional ability to offer his opinion, even if he offers his opinion obnoxiously and he's Jewish.

Yes, I'm afraid you've got the Jew thing going and soon you'll have alt-right on your campus to join in to support the SJW rowdies, if you're not careful.
https://mobile.twitter.com/venniekocsis/status/870974558634860544

David Sucher said...

I was also going to ask,as does anonymous, whether it would have been OK for Brett to have spoken to Rachel Maddow on MSNBC? Or to a reporter at the nation?

And I don't mean to suggest that you are singularly responsible… But you are involved as a faculty member and a lot of us are spellbound by this event. So we are seeking as much information as possible.

Peter Dorman said...

Anonymous, there has actually been very little outreach by either the college administration or faculty and staff other than Weinstein. That's a serious problem. I get the impression that too many at Evergreen are caught up in their narrow world and don't realize how important it is to sustain goodwill around the state and country. There are signs this is changing, but not quickly enough.

The reason most faculty are upset with Weinstein for going to Fox with his message is that Fox is an irresponsible partner with little interest in factual reporting, and with a clear agenda of using the "campus craziness" meme to advance a political movement (the far right) most of us at Evergreen oppose. In addition, while it is understandable he sees the issue from his own personal experiences, he tells a story that is all about him, whereas the really story is about much more.

To get back to your main claim, the problem at Evergreen is not that officials and faculty are trying to avoid scrutiny, but that they are not engaging it. The problem is insularity.

David Sucher said...

And for a lighter moment, may I point out that Tucker Carlson and Glenn Greenwald are on the same side! 👍

Peter Dorman said...

David,

First, whether Bret's characterization of Evergreen and its Day of Absence policies is accurate does matter, a lot, because he continues to repeat it, and it plays a central role in the right wing version of events. My #1 mission has been to correct the record on this.

Second, no one questions Bret's constitutional right to speak his mind. Student protesters wanted him to resign, and the college administration firmly said no employee, Bret or either of the others targeted by students (a police officer and the campus mediation official), would be terminated. Bret's appearance on Fox (and subsequent conservative/libertarian outlets) has convinced some faculty he should be investigated for violation of Evergreen's internal social contract on the grounds that this has exposed many of us to the vicious hostility of the alt-right. I understand this proposal but do not support it personally. (I don't think Bret went to Fox with the intention of generating these threats, although he ought to have taken this outcome into account.)

Incidentally, the true speech issue is about atmosphere. At Evergreen, as elsewhere, there is sometimes an atmosphere of moral censoriousness, imposing narrow limits on what some regard as acceptable thinking and language. I think this is harmful for progressive causes, not to mention mental health, but it's not the same as legal censorship or state coercion. For an example of that, take a look at what's happening in Turkey. Evergreen is not a tyranny. Please keep this in perspective.

Third, the Jewish thing. Bret has sometimes invoked being Jewish as an argument in support of his sensitivity to injustice, an unfortunate reaction to the claim sometimes made that being white renders a person categorically insensitive on this front. That has led to the response on the part of some that, no, being Jewish doesn't do this. The resulting debate, in my view, is worse than useless. I wish Bret hadn't started it, and I wish those responding to him hadn't taken the bait. In reality, there are Jewish students and faculty on all sides of this dispute, and it really has nothing at all to do with Jewish identity or anti-semitism.

(I'm not a fan of standpoint theory, as regular readers of this blog will already know.)

Kevin said...

Peter, there wouldn't be a story about "campus crazies" if the students and some faculty at Evergreen didn't behave like "campus crazies."

Kevin said...

Peter, you may think Fox has skewed the story. But how about an op-ed in today's NYT ("These Campus Inquisitions Must Stop"), hardly a conservative mouthpiece. https://mobile.nytimes.com/2017/06/03/opinion/sunday/bruni-campus-inquisitions-evergreen-state.html?referer=https://www.google.ca/

David Sucher said...

Did Bret say anything false on Fox tv?

I don't mean different interpretation but factual lies?

Peter Dorman said...

Jeez, people want me to defend everything and everyone at Evergreen. We're just a college that happens to be located in a country with all kinds of political, cultural and personal issues. We're not that different in those ways, even though we are very different in how we organize academics. (My course on water is co-taught by a biologist, a physicist and me, an economist. It's not a set of modules but a single, integrated approach to understanding water issues. Because the campus was closed on Thursday and Friday, this weekend I'm supporting the data analysis student teams need in order to complete their biological field research. Want to talk about that?)

I've been careful not to criticize in this forum the content of what Bret has said to his various interviewers, except for his factual mischaracterization of our Day of Absence program. That's an important mischaracterization and worth paying attention to. I'm not engaging in any other debate with him.

As for the NY Times (and WaPo and other outlets), since the story got such wide coverage in right wing media, the center and left have jumped in too. I am not going to pass judgment on everything they've written. I think there's been a tendency to rely too much on Bret as a primary source (his perspective is one of many), but that's starting to change. Bret is a part of this story, but it's not all about him, and there are other aspects of the protest -- and the issues it addresses -- that deserve attention too.

Finally, readers may be interested to know that the Evergreen Board of Trustees, our governing body, has issued a statement of its own:

http://www.evergreen.edu/news/post/renewing-our-commitment-tolerance-and-respect-evergreen-statement-board-trustees

Kevin said...

I read the Trustees' statement and it rings hollow. The Trustees emphasized their commitment to "tolerance" and "respect" yet President Bridges already pledged not to take any disciplinary action against students who participated in mob rule. In addition, Evergreen has made no mention of actions to be taken against Professor Naima Lowe who sent out a tweet clearly threatening Bret's wife. She was also seen in a YouTube video berating and insulting two Evergreen faculty in public while students snapped their fingers in approval. If the Trustees are seriously committed to fostering "tolerance" and "respect" why has Evergreen done nothing to punish those who exhibited incredible intolerance and disrespect?

Kevin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kevin said...

Peter, please know I appreciate your openness to dialogue. I can't imagine how you and other Evergreen staff must feel during this turbulent time. Your willingness to engage is examplary. Thank you.

Kevin said...

The very liberal Huffingtonpost ran this piece today ("A Liberal’s Perspective: Evergreen College and the Fascism of the Illiberal Left")

https://www.google.ca/amp/m.huffpost.com/us/entry/us_5932d7a2e4b062a6ac0ad024/amp

Peter Dorman said...

Thanks, Kevin. Please note that the HuffPo piece (a) was not written by anyone with direct knowledge of events and (b) repeats at the outset the alt-fact that Evergreen programmed "a day without white people".

Repeat: I'm a white person and no one told me to stay away from campus, or even that I would lose a few allyship points by showing up. No one. In my view, any reportage of or think piece about the Evergreen events that repeats this falsehood disqualifies itself from serious consideration.

This is not to say that everyone acted wonderfully during this episode or is acting wonderfully now. I think any readers who are still paying attention at this point in the comment thread should feel free to make up their own minds about whose transgressions are more deplorable -- provided they don't trash the facts.

David Sucher said...

Peter, sorry if I had said anything to upset you, which you obviously are. That of course puzzles people on the outside. We are told that the situation is extremely complex. I think your president said that.
To many of us on the outside, the situation is very simple.

1. If there are complaints from the students about any activities on campus, they should document them as to date, time, persons, actions and so forth and present them to the administration for some kind of remedial action;
2. If they do not receive a response they should tell the world including going to court or quasi-judicial process;
3. The administration has the right and duty to set forth actions on campus including complaints from stakeholders;
4. Anyone and of course especially faculty staff and students are free to comment on administration decisions;
5. And of course anyone can comment on the comments of other people etc etc (or ignore them!) in a peaceful, non-violent, non-threatening, non-browbeating manner;
6. Those who do not comment in a peaceable manner should be sanctioned;
7. End of story.

From the outside world it looks pretty simple, Peter.
Maybe you and other faculty should get away literally physically from campus and look back to get some perspective?

David Sucher said...

Based on what I have been reading, and learning from you, Peter, I don't think it's a bad idea for the state to reconsider whether Evergreen should be a state school with public support.

Or perhaps there should be a test for faculty to understand the U.S. Constitution since shutting down Evergreen would be a terrible burden on the 90% of the students who are rational people.

Too many of the faculty to not understand free speech.
They seem to think that free-speech is for people they agree with.
They are setting a very bad example for students.
That should not be acceptable for university or college faculty.

Just because Turkey is far worse does not mean that we should be very very worried about Evergreen.

Anonymous said...

As ought to to be evident, both from the posts to this blog and the op-eds that are linked to in this very chain of comments, Evergreen State can not be said to be faring well in the court of public opinion. I say this not as proof of rightness or wrongness but simply as a statement of apparent fact. Thus, it does not appear to be an effective defense to say that everyone critical of Evergreen State is getting it wrong, because that defense simply does not appear to be working. I regard that as a fact, not a value or opinion.

So, it would seem to behoove defenders of Evergreen State to provide more information about the entire context for this affair. I have cut-and-pasted below two passages from Professor Dorman's own comments in this comment chain as a place to start. So, to text #1:

"Weinstein repeatedly argued that the Council was imposing an atmosphere of intimidation, a claim with an element of truth but which was delivered with what can charitably be described as insufficient awareness of his own assumptions and biases about race and racism."

If there was an "element of truth," then that would appear to concede that there was indeed an "atmosphere of intimidation." This conclusion can only be assuaged by explaining what, precisely, Professor Weinstein wrote that could "charitably be described as insufficient[ly] aware . . . of his own assumptions and biases about race and racism." In this era of "microaggressions"— which, by definition, cannot be known to those who "commit" them, this is an essential point. So, what did Professor Weinstein say?

This leads to text#2:

"But meanwhile a number of students of color and their supporters were organizing behind the scenes. They were upset about several incidents involving the campus police, particularly one in which two black students were taken into custody following a heated verbal exchange over racial issues in the student cafeteria. There was also buzz among students that a number of the faculty were displaying racial and gender bias in the classroom and anger about Weinstein’s email. Last week they launched their protest by invading Weinstein’s class and shouting at him to either apologize or resign."

Here, it behooves defenders of Evergreen State to explain precisely what connection there was between "incidents involving the campus police" and Professor Weinstein's emails. This cannot be accomplished without revealing what Professor Weinstein actually said.

In short, the only evidence that is now appearing before the public is, demonstrably, not accruing to Evergreen State's benefit. The more factual light that can be shed on the matter, in explicit detail, the better for Evergreen State.

David Sucher said...


Peter,
Are there ANY specific complaints of racism, harassment, police over-reaching which you believe are credible? Are/have they being/been investigated specifically?

Quote in Olympian which by its flimsy language is not persuasive at all:

“This institution is really (messed up) and racist,” Evergreen freshman Shayna Clayton told The Olympian during that protest. “We shouldn’t have to deal with that.”

Before the protest, a group of students had sent the following statement to The Olympian: “What started out as anti-black comments on social media has turned into the dismissal of the rights of students and femmes of color, physical violence by police, and false sentencing of students protesting. Black trans disabled students are actively being sought out and confronted by campus police constantly, police are refusing to explain their actions and harassment. Students will not stand for this anymore, as students of color have never felt comfortable on campus and have not been treated equally.”

Read more here: http://www.theolympian.com/news/local/article154249574.html#storylink=cpy

Kevin said...

Even if the students have some legitimate beefs their concerns were lost in the ugly stream of f-bombs, insults, and demands they made (such as telling the college Presidebt to "f*%k off" and ordering him to not use his hands when he spoke). I've been arrested many times for non-violent civil protests - including demonstrating against apartheid in South Africa - and never once did I scream profanities, spew insults, or hurl pejoratives at those I was protesting or at law enforcement. The behavior of the Evergreen students is a black mark on social justice struggles.

David Sucher said...


I would turn it around, Kevin, and say "Even if the students act like idiot asshole jerks in every possible way, is the essence of their gripe legitimate?"

Judge would not look at the rudeness of the style of the way the claim is presented but whether it was true or not.

Of course sometimes you can get a sense of the claim is not legitimate one it's completely overblown… The students would be much more better off if they simply present to their specific ropes in a matter of fact way… So my sense is there they don't have anything related to complain about.… But that's me and I'm not there and that's why I'm asking Peter for his opinion and not just opinion but does he really know if there's any specific claims that have any substance to them.

Peter Dorman said...

A brief closure response on my part: I won't be tracking this thread any more. It's not because there aren't legitimate questions that merit a reply, but because I can't stay with it -- too many other things to do. For those who are interested, I gave a longish interview today to a production company for HBO, and some of my remarks might appear in a forthcoming Vice News segment.

Maybe at some point, after the dust settles and no one cares any more, I'll write up my own personal views. Or maybe fold that into a longer form writing drawing on, and extending, the blog posts I've written for EconoSpeak on identity politics themes.

David Sucher said...

I can well understand your reluctance to speak candidly and openly in a public venue like this.
Best wishes.

Kevin said...

Again, Peter, thanks for letting us voice our concerns. The dialogue here has proven that people can passionately yet politely discuss issues - even disagree - without being disrespectful.

Anonymous said...

I give you credit for trying to be objective, but your own posts are laden with bias. I give you credit for trying, but you come off as a well intended but naive and subjective reporter, more objective than a zealot, but hardly objective.

And if Bret is misrepresenting the story, get on the media and counter it. Im sure they would have you on. If Evergreen does not deserve to be in this position, get on TV and defend your school.

David Sucher said...

I am with anonymous on this one again… I think the anti-Bret forces have a problem, partly because they have framed so much as anti-Bret.

Anonymous said...

I regret that I write as "anonymous," but out of concern for my son, I must do so. My son is a freshman at TESC. We are "white" persons and he was raised in the Jewish faith. I raised him in a philosophy nearly identical to the one apparently espoused by Prof. Weinstein: first, that from a scientific perspective, "race" is a meaningless term; second, that the spurious concept of "race" has always and only been used to ill purpose; and third, that in the U.S., people of African ancestry were kidnapped en masse, forced to live as cattle, and that their descendants, although technically "equal" to others by government fiat, are to this day systematically denied an equal share in our society; and fourth, that it is our responsibility as "white" persons to do whatever we can to remedy this historic wrong. A corollary is that all persons have the right to physical safety and a minimum of respect. Mr Dorman's account of events is vastly at odds with my son's. He was told by several students that he as an [racial epithet deleted] had better not be on campus on the special day. This was not an "invitation." It was presented as a threat. He has subsequently been threatened by mobs of students solely because of his pale skin. He feels betrayed by the institution, and I am beyond furious. Mr Bridges's first responsibility is to ensure the physical safety of the students. Instead of being ordered to "stand down," police should have been encouraged to arrest the instigators of violence (both verbal and physical.) Instead, Mr Bridges cowered before the thugs who threatened my son, and the children of other parents, as well as Prof. Weinstein. Instead of keeping our children safe, he praised those who threatened them! Mr Bridges's cowardice in the face of this archetypal bullying is a despicable (and possibly criminal) dereliction of duty. He should at very least be censured and removed from his position.

David Sucher said...

I would not want to be a student Evergreen...bearing in mind that there are a total of 4000 students at Evergreen and only about 200 who are rowdies.

Here is a sad & yet heartening post:
https://heatst.com/culture-wars/rise-of-chalkman-one-evergreen-state-college-student-refuses-to-cave-to-the-mob/

Anonymous said...

@DavidSucher ... Yes, I saw that video and while I cannot bear Limp Bizcit (sp) or any of their ilk, I commended the video to my son. He responded that the intimidation captured there was far less threatening than most of what he has experienced. Mr Dorman is either unaware of it, or is intentionally glossing it over in his report. I repeat here that my socio-political sympathies lie with those who are pejoratively called "SJWs" by some, but that the first responsibility of the administration is the physical safety of all students, even those who have pale skin and simply want to get a degree, or who wear Clark Kent glasses and wield chalk.

Will Norton said...

What claims have Weinstein made that were exaggerated or untrue? Is it always permissible for students at Evergreen to graffiti the buildings and shout "fuck you" to administrators and professors or this a recent phenomenon?

Kelsea Hume said...

Thank you for writing about what happened on campus. As an alumni who has spent the past week trying to gather accurate information about the chain of events, I'm glad to finally have a non-sensationalized first hand account I can refer others to.

Anonymous said...

Kevin, why did you and your wife donate so much money to Evergreen in the first place? You clearly have issues with it and that's a lot of money.

St. Crispy said...

I hate to admit that I've been sucked into the train wreck, and have compulsively watched and read everything I could get my eyes on. I have to admit I've been unable to find the data that undoes my initial reaction that Weinstein's language was appropriate and very precise.

The one thing no one seems to be addressing, is that Fox came to Weinstein, not the other way around. Where is Maddow, Chris Hedges, Salon, Slate, the actual paid reporters at HP, the Guardian, MJ? *crickets* He not only has a right, but a clear personal stake in getting his story out to counter the accusations of racism.

Drilling down, the roots of this look to me like they have far more to do with faculty hiring procedures and what appears to be people within the administration stirring up their students to help them establish a little hiring fiefdom. (Did you know that all faculty and staff e-mail falls under FOIA? Months ago, Weinstein claims, Naima Lowe had one of her students do a FOIA request for all of his e-mails, to make a documentary. Anyone, on this list could do the same for Naima Lowe and Bridges. Maybe that is a place to start with an Alumni investigations - before any lawsuits are filed.)

I don't know why I should care, 30 years out, but it's emotionally difficult to watch.

David Sucher said...

St. Crispy,
I can relate to your fascination for this very sad situation.

And I'm curious to know if you have a link concerning who approached whom? I was not aware that Fox approached Weinstein. Any link? Thx

St. Crispy said...

Weinstein claims that in the Rubin Report video. I don't have a time mark unfortunately. It's worth the watch, at least up until the Q&A portion, which is mostly re-hash.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-fEAPcgxnyY

Keiko said...

David Sucher & St. Crispy:
Bret's brother Eric said on Twitter that Fox had "stepped in" and called out NY Times and NPR for being absent.
https://twitter.com/EricRWeinstein/status/868560436441915392

It's difficult for me to imagine that someone who self-identifies as a progressive antiracist (see Rubin Report interview) would have contacted Fox and volunteered an interview. Mainstream and leftwing media have been very behind on covering this story.

Peter:
I don't know that you'll see this but thanks for offering your perspective and dialoguing with people in the comments. People unfamiliar with academic administration in general and Evergreen in particular are missing a lot of context and it's easy for people to jump to conclusions from inaccurate and misleading media reports. I've been sick, so had plenty of time to follow the story and watch Bret's interviews and read a lot of articles. He comes off as extremely credible and rational and having watched some of the protest videos it's hard to see him as the bad guy here. But I have been wondering what context is missing that he either hasn't shared or isn't privy to. I believe I've seen the "ill-advised" social media post you mention which struck me as highly unprofessional. I'm sure that people's personalities factor into everything that is happening at Evergreen, something that isn't apparent to those of us on the outside.

Anonymous parent:
I'm so sorry for what your son has been going through. I have been really shocked by how the administration has been handling the threats from protesters to Bret and students who don't agree with them. I have worked in higher ed and have never seen an administration behave in this manner. I hope he's able to make it through the remainder of the semester safely and that things will calm down on campus.

David Sucher said...

most fascinating thing;

Approx March 12 -- Pivotal BW-Love email exchange. Disagreement but not disagreeable.

Approx April 12 -- Day of Absence happens, without incident so I assume BW was outvoted, overruled, ignored etc

Approx May 23 -- Student protest at BW's office -- we have all seen the tape.

May 27 -- BW on FOX Tucker Carlson show

Can someone shed some light on that timeline? Why would the students be demonstrating at Weinstein's office more than a month after BW I had lost the battle? i.e. the Day of Absence actually happened. The students won. So why the vitriolic protest?

It's very difficult to figure out a timeline -- and I know there were important events going back into September… But none of it makes sense.

The key thing is that Weinstein lost the battles (Strategic Equity Plan, Day of Absence) and yet the students keep fighting to focus on ONE faculty member.

I don't understand. Do they want to get revenge for winning?

Anonymous said...

Are there ANY specific complaints of racism, harassment, police over-reaching which you believe are credible?

Indeed there is.

Well apart from police overreach.

A student posted on a FB page saying, something like ~ lets try to make 'a certain class' mostly black/brown this year. Another student, a non white person, should that even matter?, posted the same comment but replaced the words black/brown with white. This resulted in abuse being posted against him, then later deleted. However he took screenshots of the abuse and pined them up around the dorms. As a result he was verbally abused/threatened in the cafeteria. The police where informed, and did there job.

Keiko said...

David Sucher:
I had wondered the same thing about why so long after the Day of Absence. I talked to someone who knows someone at Evergreen and they speculated that it had something to do with students being on edge and fearful following the Portland MAX train stabbings. There were at the time also numerous upcoming rallies that those on the far-left believe are being staged by white supremacists and neo-Nazis (the free speech rally that was on 6/4 and the March Against Sharia which is today. I'm not really following this because nothing I've read has shown me any proof that Bret said anything racist and I watched part's of Tim Pool's (@timcast) 6 hour livestream from the free speech rally. He reported that most of the attendees of the rally were run of the mill conservatives (though there may have been some white supremacists there), and most of the violence came from antifa (this seemed to be backed up by who the police arrested).

I'm also unclear if there was a more recent email that set them off. I've read snippets of at least one of Bret's other emails but not seen all of his emails collected together. The only email I've read in full is the one in which he laid out his opposition to Day of Absence. But he has sent other emails regarding his concerns about various equity proposals that the administration is planning to push through. I guess these days the mere act of expressing concerns over equity proposals instead of getting on board immediately makes one a "racist".