Racial Tensions Escalate on Campus of Public University in Washington State

Evergreen State College (courtesy of Evergreen State College)

A week of protests and racial tension on the campus of Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash., ended with the college being closed for the second day in a row Friday, after county officials received a phone call Thursday from someone threatening to be armed and headed to the campus.

As the Washington Post reports, the school got national attention this week when video of protests and unrest on the campus went viral. Students of color on the campus confronted Bret Weinstein, a white biology professor who objected to the school’s suggestion that white faculty and students stay away from campus on the school’s annual “day of absence” for students of color.


Since the 1970s, Evergreen has held the annual demonstration, which is inspired by a play and meant to give students of color an opportunity to highlight their importance through their absence on campus, and give them a chance to gather to discuss racial issues.

Weinstein told organizers of the event, “On a college campus, one’s right to speak—or to be—must never be based on skin color.”

His response prompted student protesters to demand that he be fired last week, and while college President George Bridges did not give in to that demand, he did agree to several changes, including mandatory cultural-competency training for all faculty and staff and additional training for police.


Things on the campus seemed to calm down after that, but on Thursday morning, the Thurston County Communications Center received a 911 call from an unknown number with the threat, and college officials closed the campus for the day.

The campus remained closed on Friday, and the Post reports that a news release said that a decision on when to reopen the campus will be made “as soon as possible.”


Read more at the Washington Post.

News Editor for The Root. I said what I said. Period.

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