In the Spring of 2017, Evergreen State College, a small liberal arts school located in Olympia, Washington was thrown into the national spotlight after holding its annual ‘Day of Absence.’ An “event which encourages students and faculty of color to voluntarily leave campus and engage in conversations about racial justice and inequality. But organizers changed the event to encourage white people to leave campus, while staff and students and color would remain behind.” In reality, those who did not participate were harassed.
Biology professor Bret Weinstein, a self-described person of the left, sent out an all-staff email in which he labeled the event “a show of force, and an act of oppression,” and refused to participate. After these emails were published in a student publication, students took over the campus and invaded his office. Weinstein recalled his experience and explained his point of view in a piece titled “The Campus Mob Came for Me—and You, Professor, Could Be Next: Whites were asked to leave for a ‘Day of Absence.’ I objected. Then 50 yelling students crashed my class.”
In June, the school hired Chassity Holliman-Douglas as its first Vice President and Vice Provost for Equity and Inclusion in response to the student uprising. PBS NewsHour interviewed her in an article published on Sunday titled “‘These conversations are not comfortable’ — How colleges can address racial inequality.”
Authors Corinne Segal and Ivette Feliciano wanted to know “how predominantly white institutions can work to support all students and what Evergreen is doing nearly a year after the events.”
The interviewer, Feliciano, asked the following questions:
-- In your new position, what are your priorities going into this year, especially in the light of the events of last spring?
-- For those who don’t understand what it’s like to come to a mostly white campus as a member of a historically marginalized group, can you paint the picture of what that experience is like?
-- Positions like yours are popping up at universities and colleges all over the nation. Why do you think that is?
-- What are these institutions not offering students of color?
-- I can imagine that some of our viewers who aren’t part of historically marginalized groups might say, “Well, I felt that way in college. I didn’t necessarily feel confident. Or, you know, I felt like a fish out of water.” What is the difference that you’re speaking to?
-- Can you break down the term ‘microaggression’ and how it relates to this conversation?
-- How do you foster spaces that are safe enough to grapple with these issues, where everybody feels comfortable sharing their opinions?
-- How would you respond to people who call this conversation “political correctness?”
Feliciano might as well have introduced herself as a fellow social justice warrior because she surely is not a journalist. Notice there was not a single challenging question. Instead, she was more concerned about how the school could foster ‘safe spaces.’
Colleges are supposed to be places for intellectual discussions, not intolerant mobs, and groupthink. This type of regressive racialization of society is poisonous. These students are not victims. In fact, they are receiving a service developed by an institution that shares their ideology. Evergreen State College is already a “safe space” for radical leftists.
PS: An Evergreen State segment on the NewsHour on Sunday allowed more time to Professor Weinstein's opposing view.