The Board of Trustees of Evergreen State College met on campus Wednesday and held a listening session for anyone who wanted to come before them and offer their perspective. Speakers were clearly divided between those who supported President George Bridges and those who felt the campus was out of control. Speaking from the latter perspective was a current Evergreen student named McKenzie.
“If you offer any sort of alternative viewpoint, which I do have, and you’re kind of the enemy,” McKenzie said. She continued, “I don’t agree with the behavior that has been shown on the campus and unlike what Anne Fischel [a previous speaker] has said, I think it’s important to focus on the way this was handled.”
“This behavior has actually been encouraged and because of this I feel like people are becoming more violent and the campus is becoming more of an unsafe place,” she said. “I have been to several meetings to speak. I’ve been told several times that I’m not allowed to speak because I’m white,” she said.
“This school seems to focus so much on race that it is actually becoming more racist in a different sort of way. And because I say that—because I choose not to focus on race I have actually been labeled a racist and a white supremacist. If anyone took the time to actually know me, it’s not true at all.”
After McKenzie’s three minutes were up, Bret Weinstein spoke. Weinstein is the professor whose class was interrupted by students demanding he resign. Weinstein premised his remarks on the idea that the Board of Trustees must not be fully aware of what had taken place on the campus because if they were they would act. He framed his statement as a series of questions:
Do you know that the college descended into literal anarchy and that for days the campus was not under the control of the state? It was under the control of protesters. That there were assaults, there were batteries? There was pressure not to report crimes to the police. People were, by the legal definition I believe, kidnapped and imprisoned, that included faculty members and administrators. Others were hunted on the campus. That lawless bands roamed the campus unimpeded? Police were physically and intentionally blocked by protesters. Police were cruelly, systematically and personally taunted. They were humiliated and forced to stand down by the president. Students that held different opinions were, by the protesters own analysis, stalked, harassed and doxxed, meaning their names, pictures and addresses and phone numbers were distributed online.
Here’s Professor Weinstein’s full statement:
Finally, if you’re wondering what the other side of the debate was saying, they were praising President Bridges and asking the Board to go easy on the protesters. Professor Carolyn Prouty was especially blunt about wanting to see the Board “strategically” change the narrative.
“Finally moving forward it is critical that we all, including the Board I submit, thoughtfully and strategically choose the narratives that we tell about what happened,” Prouty said. She continued, “We are now in the time of sense-making, that is what I hear that you are here to do today. I want to advocate that each of us, all of us strategically and thoughtfully choose to listen, find and tell the stories of what happened, stories that understand social change to be messy and righteous, difficult and necessary.”
What Professor Prouty is recommending here fits the definition of propaganda. She does go on to say that these should be “true” stories but clearly, only certain true stories are strategically advantageous. For instance, the true story of how protesters took over the swearing-in ceremony of the new campus police chief and swore at her in front of her children, would probably not be one Professor Prouty wants told. Deputy Chief Dave Pearsall told state lawmakers last month, “I personally watched some of these students go up to Chief Brown, right up to her face, and call her all kinds of names, cursing at her. As well as, she had her young children with her who were fearful of what was going on.”
I don’t know what the board is going to do, but the fact that President Bridges is sitting up front combined with the fact that so many of the faculty believe Professor Weinstein has committed an unpardonable sin by going on Fox News, suggests there won’t be much accountability here.
You only need to imagine what would be happening if a right-wing protest group had taken over a campus and behaved this way toward professors to see how hypocritical this is. At Evergreen College, students can do no wrong so long as they are talking about their own victimization.
[Correction: Fixed the spelling of McKenzie’s name.]