Posted May 27, 2017 by Cooper Point Journal in News

Protest Prompts Changes at Evergreen

Students Say the Fight Against Racism on Campus Continues

By Felix Chrome

Evergreen President George Bridges held a meeting on Friday, May 26 to respond to student demands addressing racism, anti-blackness, and police on campus. A series of protests that began Tuesday May 22 increased pressure on the administration, culminating in an occupation of the library building during which administrators were blockaded in a room to listen to concerns of students.

A coalition of black students demanded the Evergreen Police be disarmed and expansions in their facilities or power be blocked; Evergreen Police Officer Tim O’Dell be suspended for his behavior toward protesters earlier this week; Weinstien be suspended without pay; Andrea Seabert Olsen, the Assistant to the VP of Student Conduct, be fired; sensitivity and cultural competency training for all faculty and staff; Changes to the student conduct code must have democratic student consent; the creation of an Equity Center; the coordinator of Trans & Queer Center be hired in a permanent full time position; and the creation of a permanent position dedicated to supporting undocumented students. Other groups of students have also submitted further demands that will be responded to by the administration in the coming week.

Bridges complied with many of these demands, but said  “I have no plan to disarm the police at the point” and he would not fire anyone or discuss any personnel matters based on student requests. When these announcements were made students expressed frustration, saying that these two issues most immediately affect their safety on campus.

People were especially worried about Weinstein’s continued media crusade, saying students were a “mob” engaged in a “witch hunt”, and going on Tucker Carlson Tonight during the meeting with George Bridges, falsely asserting that students had taken over campus and threatened violence. At the meeting students shared that they had received death threats and harassment due to their portrayal in national media.

Despite the media narrative that has been woven in national press, recent protests are in response to multiple incidents, and the precipitated event was not comments made by Weinstein. Students disrupted Weinstein’s class in relation to allegedly racist comments he made in multiple emails, but protests had already begun previous to this when students were upset by a May 14 incident in which campus police woke up, held, and questioned two black students about an argument with another student over alleged racism.

The steps Bridges did agree to take include the creation of an Equity and Multicultural Center on campus; mandatory anti-bias and cultural competency training for all faculty and staff beginning Fall 2017; the creation of a retention specialist position for supporting undocumented students; and increased budget for First Peoples’ Advising.

Bridges told the gathered students “The status quo is unacceptable” but “we don’t know all the answers.” He thanked them for their input, and said he will continue meeting publicly and privately with students in the next two weeks to understand how to further address concerns.

You can read George Bridges full statement to students here.