Evergreen President: We've seen a 'slight decline' in enrollment since protests

The President of Evergreen State College, George Bridges, says he has seen a “slight decline” in enrollment at the school following campus protests which made national news. From the Olympian:

Bridges said they’ve seen a “slight decline” in enrollment since the campus incidents erupted in May, but not at the levels of other colleges in the country that have experienced student unrest in recent years.

“No one has told me they’re not coming back because of that,” Bridges said. “We don’t know how to draw a comparison.”

Still, Bridges said college officials will be contacting would-be students. On Monday, staff and volunteers began calling about 1,200 students who were admitted and haven’t enrolled in classes yet.

“We’re also calling those current students who were here in the spring, didn’t graduate and didn’t register for fall classes,” Bridges said.

He doesn’t mention any names, but I’m going to guess President Bridges has the University of Missouri in mind when he refers to “other colleges.” As I pointed out here, Mizzou has seen a drop in enrollment greater than 20% and has had to cut over 400 positions and shutter seven dormitories. It’s not just speculation that the protests and the declining enrollment are connected at Evergreen. The College Fix reported last week on an email sent by the mother of two prospective students to Bridges:

The Illinois mother, Ann M., said her children “really wanted to attend” Evergreen, but that she couldn’t let them enroll this upcoming year. “However, because you have caved to the idiotic demands of your liberal crazed snowflake students, (for example, letting them off the hook if their homework is late), my husband and I have decided that Evergreen State is definitely not where we want our twins educated,” she wrote to Bridges.

Given this connection between Bridges not letting students walk all over him and enrollment, he has spent the last couple weeks talking tough about holding students accountable. On June 14th he wrote an op-ed for the Seattle Times which stated, “students are being investigated for violations of the student conduct code, and their cases are currently under review.” But a week later, Bridges was telling state lawmakers students who disrupted a classroom and called the professor a racist were being sent warnings, i.e. if you do this again you could face punishment.

In the Olympian piece published yesterday, Bridges is once again talking tough. He says some of the behavior of student protesters (blocking doors with furniture) was against the law. But once again, his only response seems to be sending out warnings. “We are sending this week a letter to every student at Evergreen articulating and outlining the conduct code, the violations that have been committed, and the fact that some of them involved criminal actions,” Bridges tells the Olympian. He adds, “They need to be informed because most of the students had no clue.”

Bridges also says the action of six students are being reviewed. “There’s a lot in play, and we are processing those as we can, and we will sanction those where we have evidence of responsibility,” he says. It has been nearly six weeks. Bridges wants to make it sound like he’s getting tough on student misbehavior, but notice all the weasel words in that sentence. Has anyone actually been expelled or suspended? It doesn’t seem so.

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