Washington lawmaker on Evergreen State College: 'I want them to become classically liberal'

Washington state lawmaker Jim Walsh wants to see changes as Evergreen State College. In a radio interview with KIRO this week he suggested the best way to achieve this was to offer the school a carrot and a stick. The stick is a reference to discussion of cutting off public support for the school. The carrot, in this case, is a bill Walsh is sponsoring which would require state schools, including Evergreen, to affirm principles of free speech. The bill would also require schools to adopt policies protecting students from harassment by other students.

Walsh says he doesn’t have a problem with Evergreen being a “hippy school” but, as a state school, it needs to hold a “classically liberal” position on tolerance for other perspectives. He said what he saw last spring was Orwellian, i.e. narrow-mindedness described as diversity. From My Northwest:

“I’m glad we have a diversity of left-wing opinion in our colleges,” Walsh said. “I don’t mind that Evergreen exists and is here. But they have to commit to true, open debate. I don’t mind we have a left-wing institution here, as long as they engage honestly.”…

“It’s the most narrow-minded, close-minded worldview you can imagine,” Walsh said of Evergreen. “And they dress it up in words like ‘diversity,’ or ‘openness’ and ‘safe space.’ When in fact, like in George Orwell’s famous books, it’s the opposite – they are not fostering true diversity. They are not fostering open dialogue and a safe space for debate. They are closing their minds to all of that.”

“I want them to become classically liberal, which is truly open-minded to multiple perspectives and opinions,” he said. “And I hope that is what they become. But if they don’t, if they don’t clean their act up, if they don’t reform how they engage with their students and their community, the option, of course, is to defund them and let them try to make a go as a private college.”

As Allahpundit noted earlier, the appetite for the classical liberal approach to speech is not as widespread on college campuses as one might hope. And as bad as the numbers from that survey appear, I suspect they might be worse at Evergreen State College.

And despite what happened last spring, Evergreen is still not heading in the direction of classical liberalism. With Bret Weinstein and his wife resigning last Friday (as part of a settlement apparently), the protesters have been given everything they demanded in the spring. They demanded Weinstein resign, he has. They wanted the police chief out, she’s gone too. Are there any remaining voices at the school who will challenge the “close-minded worldview” of the far left? It doesn’t appear that way.

All of that to say, Evergreen doesn’t seem particularly open to a new approach. But with enrollment down 5% this fall, it seems some students and their parents have already started the process of defunding the school.