Education First on Campus

By Jasmine Kozak-Gilroy

The EF, or Education First, campus is tucked away on the fourth floor of the Seminar I building, sharing floor space with the relocated Office of Sexual Violence Prevention (OSVP). For Evergreen students who haven’t visited OSVP in its new location, the school is all but invisible, save for the non descriptive sign by the vending machines outside the health center and the small flocks of students speaking languages other than english wandering around campus and eating lunch in the Greenery.

Evergreen, after net costs of $1,001,791, makes a profit of $195,411 from hosting the EF facilities on campus. The bulk of the costs are associated with housing and feeding EF students. EF has been on the Evergreen State College campus for the past 30 years, and our campus is one of many. The EF facility at Evergreen is referred to on their website as the Seattle campus, despite Seattle being a one and a half hour drive or three hour bus ride away. When speaking to EF students in the past, I have been told that they felt tricked or disappointed by the actual location of Evergreen and its proximity to the Seattle metro area. Similarly, the EF New York City program is in the suburbs of New York, a forty minute train ride away, and the EF San Francisco program is a Mill College in Oakland. These three locations are three out of eleven listed on the EF website and in brochures I was given by an administrator for the EF facilities at Evergreen.

Enrollment has decreased for them and many other English as a Second Language programs, and the current student population hovers around 130, although it will go up drastically in the summer, when students as young as 13 will populate the modular housing and apartments as part of a popular summer program.

Local families who apply and are accepted to be host families are expected to provide breakfast and dinner on weekdays and all meal on weekends, and are not paid or reimbursed for the costs of room and board. Costs and what is included vary from school to school, but for the EF Seattle program, students can choose to either live with a host family or in campus housing for the same costs, with meals included. Of the students currently enrolled, about 47 percent live on campus, with 53 percent opting to stay with host families.

Anonymous students who have worked for Residential and Dining Services and for EF as Residential Assistants (RA) for the the summer program participants voiced concerns about the lack of responsibility EF takes for their residential students. Over the summer, students can be as young as 13, with student even younger slipping in. They are expected to eat all of their meals at the Greenery, and cannot cook in their living areas because EF doesn’t pay to have stoves or ovens in the rooms– although they do pay to supply them with microwaves and tea kettles. Many of these students, they say, are struggling through their first experiences away from home, and much of the responsibility for acclimating the students to living without parental guidance falls on the RAs, including helping students find food and buy groceries, and teaching them how to ride the bus and navigate Olympia.