The Volokh Conspiracy

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Volokh Conspiracy

'Professor told he's not safe on campus after college protests' at Evergreen State College (Washington)


As reported by KING-5, a Washington TV station:

"I have been told by the Chief of Police it's not safe for me to be on campus," said [Evergreen State College professor Bret] Weinstein, who held his Thursday class in a downtown Olympia[, Wash.,] park.

An administrator confirmed the police department advised Weinstein it "might be best to stay off campus for a day or so."

Demonstrations involving as many as 200 students filled classrooms and the President's office on campus on Tuesday and Wednesday. Protesters are upset over what they believe are racist policies at the college, and some called for Weinstein to resign.

Earlier this school year Weinstein raised concerns about proposed policy changes, including one that would have race play a larger role in the hiring process.

The Washington Times (Bradford Richardson) reports that part of the hostility toward Weinstein also seems to stem from his objection to a "Day of Absence" "in which white people were invited to leave campus for a day"; see also Heat Street (Lukas Mikelionis). Here is Weinstein's email objecting to the proposed day-long ejection of whites, as reproduced by Heat Street:

Dear Rashida,

When you first described the new structure for Day of Absence / Day of Presence at a past faculty meeting (where no room was left for questions), I thought I must have misunderstood what you said. Later emails seemed to muddy the waters further, while inviting commitments to participate. I now see from the boldfaced text in this email that I had indeed understood your words correctly.

There is a huge difference between a group or coalition deciding to voluntarily absent themselves from a shared space in order to highlight their vital and under-appreciated roles (the theme of the Douglas Turner Ward play Day of Absence, as well as the recent Women's Day walkout), and a group or coalition encouraging another group to go away. The first is a forceful call to consciousness which is, of course, crippling to the logic of oppression. The second is a show of force, and an act of oppression in and of itself.

You may take this letter as a formal protest of this year's structure, and you may assume I will be on campus on the Day of Absence. I would encourage others to put phenotype aside and reject this new formulation, whether they have 'registered' for it already or not. On a college campus, one's right to speak—or to be—must never be based on skin color.

If there was interest in a public presentation and discussion of race through a scientific / evolutionary lens, I would be quite willing to organize such an event (it is material I have taught in my own programs, and guest lectured on at Evergreen and elsewhere). Everyone would be equally welcome and encouraged to attend such a forum, irrespective of ethnicity, belief structure, native language, political leanings, or position at the college. My only requirement would be that people attend with an open mind, and a willingness to act in good faith.

If there is interest in such a event, please let me know …