Three weeks ago I wrote about enrollment at Evergreen State College which, not surprisingly, is down again this year. At the time I suggested that the declining enrollment would inevitably result in the school having to reduce faculty. That assumption was correct but thanks to a piece at the Olympian published last Sunday I can now quantify that a bit:
The college plans its course offerings with a 22-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio, so as student numbers have fallen, so too have faculty numbers, said David McAvity, Evergreen’s dean for academic budgets. In just two years, the college has cut the equivalent of 34 full-time faculty positions, a 20 percent decrease.
Last school year, the college started offering retirement incentives to some tenured faculty. (Evergreen doesn’t use the term “tenured,” however, instead referring to them as faculty with a continuing contract.) This year, incentives are being offered to all tenured faculty who want to leave or reduce their contracts to part time, McAvity said.
Based on the school’s headcount numbers it has lost 28.6 percent of its student body over the same two years. So that roughly matches up. The change is apparent to incoming students like Wasmine Ghosheh:
When the 19-year-old from Sonoma County, California, arrived at The Evergreen State College in September, she met students who were supposed to have roommates but ended up with their own rooms.
“There’s a lot of space — it’s spacious, let’s say,” Ghosheh said the Friday before Thanksgiving break in a nearly empty cafeteria on campus.
The school was encouraged by a rise in the number of out-of-state applications. Out of state students pay much more to attend so a surge of these students would have helped the bottom line. But despite the increase in applications the number of out-of-state students who chose to attend was down this year.
Evergreen has been dancing around the reasons for that decline for years at this point but even current students have a sense. Braden Thompson told the Olympian, “If you’ve never heard of the college, the first thing that you’re going to hear about the college is probably something on the news.” He continued, “I came here just at the very end of the Bret Weinstein episode. I don’t think it’s going to be a big issue for student that are enrolling now if they even know about it.”
But Thompson added, “I think if a high schooler really wants to go to Evergreen and that’s really what they have their heart set on I’d like to think that that’s something they’d be allowed to do by their parent, but then again I definitely know people who go to state colleges whose parents wanted them to have nothing to do with Evergreen.”
I can’t imagine why.
I’ll close with this video by a former Evergreen student who is not Benjamin Boyce. Eric runs a YouTube channel called the Nomadic Fanatic. He travels around the country in an RV with his cat Jax and makes videos about his adventures. Five months ago he made a return trip to his Alma mater to advise students considering it in the future to think again. Some of the stories Eric tells, such as the men who use the public bathrooms without shoes, are new to me. I also enjoyed his description of what it was like to try to dispose of trash on campus: