Evergreen State College to cut budget by $5.9 million, plan for layoffs

Evergreen State College plans to cut its budget by $5.9 million next year, which amounts to 10% of the schools total budget, in anticipation of declining enrollment. From the Olympian:

In a memo to the college’s board of trustees, Evergreen President George Bridges wrote that cuts totaling $5.9 million are needed because of lower-than-expected tuition revenue. This will require “some” layoffs and eliminating “many positions that are currently vacant,” according to Bridges.

“The work of reducing the operating budget is in a very dynamic state at this time. The number of staff and faculty positions and programs impacted by the proposed reductions will change as this work continues over the next few weeks,” according to the memo dated May 8.

As dramatic as this sounds, enrollment next year could drop much more than 10 percent. In February, President Bridges warned next year’s enrollment could drop by up to 700 students from a student body of 3,800. That would represent a decline of 18.5 percent. Bridges framed that as worst-case-scenario but clearly, a 10% decline, while well shy of the worst case, is still very significant.

In March, Evergreen announced it was putting plans to replace the oldest dorms on campus on hold for at least a year. If enrollment does drop 10% next year, I’m guessing that delay will be extended indefinitely. Enrollment already dropped by 5% this school year, prompting a hiring freeze.

Meanwhile, it’s business as usual at Evergreen. This week the school held its “Day of Absence” event over the course of three days. From the College Fix:

Students at the Olympia, Washington-based public school have organized a three-day “Day of Absence” observance that includes a mix of events on and off campus. Some gatherings are advertised as open to all skin colors and others ask that only POC, or People of Color, attend…

“The mission of this event is to bring POC together in order to create a reclamation of space and move forward into the future. In reaction to institution’s consistent disregard for our safety, we are operating independently of the college. This is a day for us, by us,” the RSVP page states.

“In addition to POC centered events there will be antiracist workshops for white folks and people who do not identify as POC. Please bring a dish or your own packed lunch and dishes! Potluck-style. No one who’s intentions are to cause harm are allowed.”

I can’t imagine why people would avoid going here. Evergreen alum and critic Benjamin Boyce published the flyer for this year’s event:

Last year, after organizers announced plans to reverse the event such that white people were asked to leave campus for a day, Professor Bret Weinstein wrote a letter objecting to the event. An angry mob of students showed up at Weinstein’s class demanding his resignation and calling him a racist. Video of the student mob went viral and prompted weeks of discussion about campus extremism. Here’s Professor Weinstein describing the history behind the Day of Absence and the events that took place last year.