Among the many student-led inquisitions that have swept America's college campuses recently, this one from Evergreen State College stands out as especially egregious and ridiculous. The standard elements of these now-typical incidents were all there: outrage over microaggressions, demands for safe spaces, and some students behaving like cartoonish caricatures of social justice activists.
Now Bret Weinstein, the professor at the center of this episode, is filing a $3.8 million tort claim against the school on behalf his wife and himself, saying in part that The Evergreen State College (TESC) "consistently has failed to set and enforce necessary boundaries in the workplace on campus, selectively has chosen not to enforce its student Code of Conduct, and sent the unmistakable message that the school will tolerate (and even endorse) egregious violations (and even crimes) purportedly to advance racial social goals, diminishing the collegiate experience for all, and fostering a racially hostile and retaliatory work environment for faculty and staff."
If that sounds overblown or exaggerated, it's worth remembering that the local police chief told Weinstein to leave campus because it was not safe for him to remain there. The video evidence of the student mob speaks for itself.
I first covered Evergreen for Reason back in early June as the school was still reeling from student protests. Nearly two months later, the school's graduation came and went (albeit off-campus for safety reasons) and the administration is grappling with how to move forward and salvage the school's reputation.
The shift in tone from the school's leaders over the course of these two months has been remarkable. Evergereen State President George Bridges initially said that he was "grateful to the courageous students who voiced their concerns." (If by "voiced their concerns" he meant "angrily shouted and took over the school," then that statement might be appropriate). Now Bridges says he is "immensely disappointed" with the student demonstrators and that some may face disciplinary action.
This complete reversal almost certainly stems from the massive backlash the school received over its handling of the protests. A Washington state lawmaker proposed defunding the school, and the university's Board of Trustees condemned the behavior of the student mob.
It remains to be seen what the long-term effects of the protests or Weinstein's impending lawsuit will have on Evergreen, but the future does not look bright. Even if Weinstein doesn't get the money he's asking for, the school will still endure the cost of all the bad PR. The University of Missouri experienced massive protests in 2015 that ended in the resignation of both the campus chancellor and the university system president over accusations of administrative indifference to racism on campus. Since then, freshman enrollment has fallen by 35 percent and budget cuts have resulted in the elimination of around 400 positions.
As I said before in my original article, the Evergreen students who wanted nothing to do with this nonsense in the first place are the ones who truly suffer. For their sake, let's hope the administration can get its act together before the school's reputation as a "Social Justice Warrior PC Indoctrination Compound" is complete.
Photo Credit: The Evergreen State College