Episode 10 of the Complete Evergreen Story is a flashback. Months before the campus was finally taken over by a mob of angry students there were several similar attempts to take over public events by some of the same protesters.
Fundamental to these efforts was the idea of “safe spaces.” The prestigious University of Chicago had published a letter saying the school was not in favor of the idea of intellectual safe spaces for its students. Evergreen’s President George Bridges wrote a piece for the Seattle Times in opposition to this idea titled “Why students need trigger warnings and safe places.” Here’s a sample:
THE University of Chicago’s recent welcome to its incoming class wasn’t welcoming. The message, conveyed in a letter from the dean of students, revealed a profound indifference to concerns that many students now bring to colleges and universities…
The dean’s letter gave notice that the university rejects the value of warning students about material in some classes, presentations or debates that may prove offensive or psychologically harmful (so-called “trigger warnings”). The letter also informed new students that the university does not “condone the creation of intellectual ‘safe spaces’ where individuals can retreat from ideas and perspectives at odds with their own.”
Either the university is completely tone deaf to the academic and developmental needs of many students or is launching its own counterattack on what it perceives as an unwarranted assault of political correctness on campus. Or both…
Ironically, the University of Chicago’s welcoming message is, in itself, a trigger warning to students — the campus offers no safe spaces or warnings about potentially offensive or harmful content in its curricula or programs.
Given Bridges outlook, it’s not at all surprising that when small groups of students began trying to take over public events, Bridges did little or nothing to stop them. That’s him in the photo above leaning against a wall with his head down in submission after students seized the microphone during the dedication of a new building on campus. Bridges wanted to make his campus a safe space and if that meant complete disorder and disrespect for adults then so be it.
How extreme are the views being presented by Bridges and the student protesters? Just wait until the final minutes of this clip to see who filmmaker Benjamin Boyce offers as the voice of reason in this debate. Here’s episode 10: