Student protestors clashing with administrators on an Olympia, Washington college campus appear to have had at least one of their demands met when the president agreed to officially excuse them from homework during their demonstrations.
“All of us are students and have homework and projects and things due,” a student can be heard saying in new videos posted online that claim to show Evergreen State College students confronting both College President George Bridges and professor Bret Weinstein.
Demanding that participants be protected from penalization for missed assignments, a student asked Bridges, “have you sent an email out to your faculty letting them know?”
“It’s the first thing I’ll do,” Bridges responded. “I have not done it yet, I will do it right now.”
Tensions at the college began when the public liberal arts and sciences college reversed a decades-old campus tradition called “Day of Absence,” in which minorities attend programs off campus for a day. The “Day of Absence” is a symbolic act based on a play by Douglas Turner Ward where black residents in a Southern fail to show up one morning, Weinstein wrote in the Wall Street Journal.
In April, the student newspaper The Cooper Point Journal reported that this year’s “Day of Absence” would instead involve white students, staff and faculty leaving campus for the day.
In response, Weinstein, a biology professor at the college, wrote an email that was published in the campus paper, in which he objected to the change. He wrote that unlike the traditional “Day of Absence,” which is meant to oppose oppression, asking a specific group to leave campus is a “show of force, and an act of oppression in and of itself.”
“On a college campus,” Weinstein wrote, “one’s right to speak–or to be–must never be based on skin color.”
A month after his response, two days of chaotic protests broke out at the college. On May 23 and 24, at least 50 students demonstrated, with some ambushing the college’s president and swearing at him as they presented a set of demands that included firing Weinstein and a homework exception for the days of demonstrations.
On May 26, Bridges gave a speech responding to the demands, according to the school paper. He thanked the “courageous students who have voiced their concerns” referring to the “passion and courage” they showed. He agreed to mandatory sensitivity training for all employees and students. Bridges, however, did not agree to fire three employees, including Weinstein.
While the protests seemed to dissipate last week, the campus was shut down for two days this week, on Thursday and Friday, after someone called in a threat.
Weinstein wrote that the protests “emerged seemingly out of the blue.” In an interview with Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, Weinstein said he had every right to speak out.
"They imagined that I'm a racist," Weinstein said on Fox News. "That has caused them to imagine that I have no right to speak."
Weinstein said that Evergreen is “arguably the most radical college in the country.” According to the school’s website, Evergreen was “created by the Washington legislature in 1967 to offer integrated, flexible and reasonably priced education that equips graduates for careers in public service, science, entrepreneurship, education and the arts.”
When reached for comment, Evergreen College would not comment further. Instead, it referred Fox News to a newly updated website addressing the controversy.
“Bret Weinstein remains a member of Evergreen’s faculty,” the site states. The college claims that “Weinstein’s right to speak out has never been threatened and his position at the college is not in jeopardy.”