Posted November 7, 2013 by Cooper Point Journal in Letters & Opinion
 
 

What Took So Long?


A COLLABORATIVE STATEMENT BY THE STUDENTS FOR JUSTICE IN PALESTINE STUDENT GROUP

Several weeks ago, Evergreen unveiled a memorial to a deceased student. It was far from a typical memorial, however. The art piece commemorates the life and legacy of Evergreen student Rachel Corrie, who was killed by the Israeli military in 2003 as she attempted to prevent the illegal demolition of the home of a Palestinian doctor and his family. Rachel’s sacrifice has been honored by people throughout the world, yet it took the Evergreen administration over ten years to claim her as an alumni worth being proud of. The installation of her memorial only happened because of the determined efforts of faculty, staff and students to honor her memory.

Had these individuals not pushed for a memorial, the administration would have continued to bow to political pressure and to their own fear of a flight of donors should the college honor a “controversial” community member like Rachel.

The administration…represents the worst of Evergreen: too often worried about negative reactions from the powerful to stand for the principles this college was founded upon.”

Rachel Corrie made the ultimate sacrifice for her firm commitment to peace and justice, and for that, she represents the best of Evergreen’s values. The administration, which refused to honor her for over a decade, even at one point re-writing its own memorial policy to preclude the placement of the artwork now installed on campus (the original correspondences between faculty and the administration explicitly said that they are “in the process of developing a memorial policy” which was not something they had even considered or been interested in doing UNTIL moves were being made to put a memorial up for Rachel),. The administration deserves support for its decision to install the memorial to Rachel, but their decision should serve as a reminder: Evergreen’s potential as a place for transformative education can only be realized by the united efforts of faculty, staff and students to outweigh the powerful voices close to the administration’s ear. On this occasion of the installation of a memorial to one of our community’s best examples, let’s all take the time to remember that these victories are possible.