I’m a professor at Evergreen State College, currently on leave. Last year I lived through the events that were captured on videotape and brought the college a lot of unwanted publicity. As a social scientist, long interested in organization theory and social movements, I found the experience grimly fascinating, an extraordinary case study. In my writing on it, I try to focus on understanding how such things could occur, rather than apportioning blame to specific individuals, which, from what I can see, has been the main sport.
Today I read another post mortem by Bret Weinstein and Heather Heying, published in the right wing Washington Examiner. Disclosure: I know both of them, and I had a positive experience co-teaching for a quarter with Heather several years ago in Evergreen’s environmental masters program. I’m not socially connected to either of them, and I haven’t had political discussions with them either. I agree with some of what they say in their latest missive, and disagree with other parts. Readers of this blog, who are far from the scene and wonder who and what to believe, might find my reactions interesting.
There is an obvious, fundamental point on which the three of us see eye to eye: Evergreen descended into an atmosphere of intimidation, in which the right to speak, no matter how civilly, was openly attacked. There was a group solidarity logic at work: if you affiliated with one group on campus, you could speak your mind in public and be immune from any scrutiny regarding the tone or logic of your utterances; if you didn’t you were expected to remain silent. This pressure was felt by faculty and students alike. It was in this context that disruptive actions by students escalated over many months until they paralyzed the college. It’s remarkable that it even needs to be said that this situation is intolerable for an institution of higher education.
Personally, I think it is bizarre that Weinstein and Heying would be sent packing by the college under the same terms—the same monetary settlement—as Naima Lowe, whose verbal attacks on her colleagues caused enormous damage to Evergreen. This is not a verdict of the “which side are you on” sort. It’s not about whose political views you agree with or who you like or don’t like on a personal level. Weinstein and Heying had a case against the college, and the college had a case against Lowe. There wasn’t a shred of symmetry in this situation.
One critical aspect of the Evergreen imbroglio goes unmentioned in the Weinstein-Heying account, the barrage of terrifying, intimately threatening emails that bombarded students and faculty after Bret appeared on Fox News. The wording in these emails reeked of racism and was often graphic, about specific acts of violence, and some students went into hiding because they couldn’t be sure the hatred was only verbal. To be clear, I don’t blame Bret for that, at least in this sense: I’m pretty sure it never occurred to him that this would result from coverage by conservative media, and no doubt most of it would have taken place even if he had said “no” to Tucker Carlson. Still, it’s an important part of the larger story, and if you offer an account of what happened you shouldn’t cherry-pick the parts that support your side. Speaking for myself, I was appalled by this tsunami of hate, and I didn’t feel it was enough to say, this is just the alt-right being the alt-right. We are all of us responsible for the predictable consequences of our actions, even if we aren’t the ones carrying them out.
But there is also an aspect of the Evergreen story, in many ways the most important one of all, that I think Weinstein-Heying got wrong. The way they tell it, a left wing minority made a power play on campus in order to enact a radical, identity-fixated political program, the notorious Equity Plan. This plan, they say, would have destroyed much of what made Evergreen a vital force in education, and the purpose of the intimidation was to push it through. They cite one sentence from the plan document that calls for bringing diversity and equity criteria into decisions of what faculty specializations to hire in. It is the Equity Plan that, in their account, makes the conflict political, a battle over which policies would be adopted by the college.
Now here’s the truly extraordinary thing which, in my view, completely upends the conventional understanding of the Evergreen affair: there was no Equity Plan. Yes, there was a document, hyped in a truly bizarre manner during the November 2016 “canoe event”, called an Equity Plan. It ran 38 pages, to a large extent a copy-and-paste job, in which rhetoric from a couple of nationally circulated diversity manuals was cobbled together to make it look like a plan existed or might come to exist at a later date. To be blunt, there was a need for a document called an Equity Plan, so, in a few hours, something with this title was assembled, but there was no actionable plan for the college—no set of proposed regulations, no budgetary analysis, virtually nothing to endorse or oppose. (This is a slight exaggeration: the “plan” called for mandatory diversity training, which is a staple of corporate America, and it created a new Vice Presidency for Equity and Inclusion, whose occupant would be tasked with figuring out what her job entailed.)
Moreover, there was no political platform behind the student protests. Listen, for instance, to the student reading a statement at the disruption of the dedication of Purce Hall; it’s all about feelings of disrespect and fear, but there’s not a single word specifying what the college should do to assuage them. The students who occupied the administrative wing of the library building in the spring issued (belatedly) a list of demands, but they were mostly either about personalities (a list of faculty and administrators to be fired) or too vague to be a subject for implementation. At a college whose priorities are tightly constrained by its budget, there was no call for a reallocation of resources to meet the needs of underserved populations. (This is a call I would have welcomed.)
The weird truth at the heart of what happened at Evergreen is that there was no political content to it. It was all about group solidarities and symbolism. If this can be given a left-right interpretation, it only means that politics in the wider society has been trained of all substance. By continuing to portray the meltdown at the college as political, pinning it on (a portion of) the left, Weinstein-Heying are mischaracterizing it. This in turn has the effect of reinforcing the tendency to take sides; no doubt many readers of their piece will see it as a defense of moderation in the face of radicalism. Near the end, for instance, Weinstein-Heying write, “Both positions [left and right] have merit and, despite the frequent tenor of conversations between factions, they are not mutually exclusive. Wisdom is likely to emerge from the tension between these worldviews, uniting good people around the value of a fair system that fosters self-reliance as it distributes opportunity as broadly as possible.” But the Evergreen meltdown was not about left versus right, institutional fairness versus personal responsibility. Bret’s challenge, for which he was hounded out of the college, was not to the adoption of a political program that didn’t exist, but to the imposition of a coercive ritual symbolism. You can be very radical in your politics and take that stand. In fact, if you’re really interested in changing the world and not just how we talk about it, that’s exactly what you’ll do.
“the barrage of terrifying, intimately threatening emails that bombarded students and faculty after Bret appeared on Fox News. The wording in these emails reeked of racism and was often graphic, about specific acts of violence, and some students went into hiding because they couldn’t be sure the hatred was only verbal. To be clear, I don’t blame Bret for that, at least in this sense: I’m pretty sure it never occurred to him that this would result from coverage by conservative media, and no doubt most of it would have taken place even if he had said “no” to Tucker Carlson.”
To excuse Bret’s appearance on Fox News Tucker Carlson show as the results “never occurred to him” is to suggest that this person is too incredibly dumb to ever be teaching at a university. Please spare us that ridiculous apology. Everyone knows the hateful, racist tripe that Fox News deals in, in particular rabid Trump defender Tucker Carlson.
Weinstein was deliberately rallying the racist alt-right to come to his support.
Kudos to the author for a great analysis. This fiasco, which has caused great damage to Evergreen, is more Lord of the Rings than politics.
@BillB–so who was he supposed to go to when no liberal MSM outlet would have given him the time of day? This is what happens when every “news” organization has its own agenda and the truth no longer matters to those who are supposed to report it.
I haven’t read the linked piece simply because most such analysis is point of view” rather an academic analysis of social behavior in a limited environment.
The basic issue is that freedom of speech is not limited by law or interpretations of law by the courts unless it is judged after the fact to have directly incited violence, or created stampede conditions, or directly promotes the overthrow of the gov’t..
Other than that, freedom of speech is unlimited. This means that one person can raise their voice in opposition or support of any other at any time and in any place. The only restrictions on this are either by
– mutual and voluntary consent to let others speak without over-riding their speech with your own or your own group’s speech, or
– some authority or private owner of the location where speech is being performed preventing others from over-riding the “authorized” speaker by use of force .. removing them from the premises or threatening same.
In a public sphere, such as a public university / college, the authority is the administration, but this is authority by political appointment, and doesn’t’ have the authority of law unless that authority’s limits and duties are specially provided by the law which gave them the gov’t appointment to administer.
And since normally those limits and duties are couched in “use considered judgment” terms instead of absolute conditions, then the administrator walks a difficult line in the public venue. T
They may or may not decide to enforce, depending on the own judgment and thus also their own views of who is speaking and who is opposing he speaker(s). This also goes directly to job security since if too large a part of the student body or faculty oppose he administrator then they are ineffective and replaced.
With that said, then there is a history of campus speech and behavior preceding the events that started the escalation… groups were formed, ad-hoc groups probably to begin with, informal groups of small numbers of students (or non-students acting as if they were students) using their free speech rights in a public venue.
Were these groups conforming to campus administrator rules, conditions, and policies? Were campus administrators discriminating by allowing some groups more latitude than others? And in either case then isn’t’ the disorder that eventually was allowed to occur a direct result of the administrations enforcement or lack thereof?
Without enforced rules and behaviors chaos occurs in short order as everybody in any administrative capacity or local authority and certainly ever teacher from kindergarten to graduate school knows well and with certainty.
Free speech therefore is only that which an authority allows.. no more than that. Free speech is a theoretical concept which in practice must be controlled and limited depending on circumstance and conditions.
It is the degree of control that is the real issue. There is no absolute line in the sand.. the limits and conditions change in time and location and who the authority happens to be in a particular situation.
And since degree lies on a continuum, then there is or becomes a “normal range” and increasingly therefore “abnormal ranges” outside the normal But how is “normal range” defined.. who’s practices constitute the ‘normal’ and ‘abnormal’?
You get the picture here… there is no absolute allowance for free speech. There is no definition of normal allowances of free speech. They are all arbitrary and thus any arbitrary decision is subject to question and certainly always is and will always.be.
The issue at Evergreen was promoted and caused by an administration that failed to define and enforce the limits of free speech and behaviors related to it perhaps with both the student body and faculty. It was nothing more than that … and whatever the outcome of that failure is effectively known well in advance. .. not the specifics but the adverse effects in publicity, in divisions among students and faculty and even among administrators.. in short the issue became trying abort chaos after it began.
As to Weinstein’s appearance on Fox he was exercising his free speech. If you oppose his venue or what he said then you are taking a position on what you believe should have limited Weinstein’s speech. which is to say it is your own point of view and opinion.. your own exercise of free speech. Which is perfectly acceptable and expected, even required.
But isn’t that precisely what everybody at Evergreen was doing in the first place? and then isn’t or wasn’t the chaos caused by everybody exercising their free speech without limits, and such limits being decided arbitrarily by each group to be applied to the opposing groups?
So free speech devolved from some form of rationalism to the emotional and irrational and thus chaos.
And though I’m an ardent and vehement opponent of the propaganda machine called Fox News if Weinstein chose to use that venue then wasn’t that his right of free speech? And if he knew of Fox’s propaganda machine, and it can be easily assumed that he did of course, then wasn’t his choice a voluntary choice to create more public opposition via Fox’s propaganda machine to whatever it was he was also opposed to?
And what was Weinstein opposed to in the first place? Infringement of his academic freedom by students (or the administration) perhaps? As I recall it was his opposition to an administrative “diversity day” which somehow changed to being a day when all “white” students wee to stay off campus…. supposedly as an illustration of non-diversity. But it doesn’t matter does it? Weinstein expressed his free speech by opposing this specific type of “adversity day” exercise as I recall and expressed his beliefs of why he was opposed to it.
People took exception .. so what? People in the classes I attended in history and economics and social sciences expressed their opposition too.. in some cases boycotting the class or trying to get the prof fired… big deal on campus.. lots of rallies, etc. People taking sides and demonstrating, blocking entrances, shouting to drown out classrooms even through closed windows.
Of course this lasted a couple days or so until the administration stopped it.. expelling some students considered leaders (then more protests, more demonstrations) using unarmed campus police to disperse the crowds, apprehend any violent protestors or any having any gas-masks for example… any who wore masks or hoods to prevent their being recognizable, etc.. And the profs stayed and students were allowed to drop the class if they chose or if it was too late in the semester then take F’s…. their choice, their consequences.
I considered this all just normal standard stuff.. nothing more than students taking positions on things they didn’t like about what was being taught or the methods being used.
The only point being that Weinstein’s position was opposed … and so I say so what? What did the administration do about the opposition? Who was disrupting the normal university environment.. the one that is enforced by rules and regulations that must exist to avoid chaos?
And who’s bright idea was it to have a diversity day where one race was supposed to remain off campus???? Did they have their head up their ass or something? or were they operating in some ethereal fantasy space? Moreover why was this supported by others that were obviously involved as well? Practicalities have to be considered don’t they? .
I wish Bret Weinstein had used a more conventional media outlet for his largely legitimate complaints. I disagree with Kolchak that only Fox News was open to him for this.
The origins of Day of Absence at Evergreen College is relevant.
A play “Day of Absence” by a black playwright in 1965 uses a small town’s minority black community to absent themselves from the community for a day to demonstrate the community’s dependency on it’s black minority members.
In 1970 a black faculty member suggested a Day of Absence take place at Evergreen to demonstrate the same hypothetical outcome of the 1965 play to the Evergreen college community.
This has been the nature of and reasoning behind the Day of Absence for nearly a half a century at Evergreen until 2017.
In early 2017 (prior to March 15) the head of the administration’s “diversity” program announced at a meeting to the faculty and admin that the 2017 event would reverse the race of absence to the white majority. As best I can find or from what is reported to date there was no basis or reasoning provided for this change at the announcement, and according to Bret Weinstein’s account (which has not been disputed by anybody) there was no discussion or Q&A allowed either.
I have no idea what the idea behind the race reversal was, who proposed it, what foundation was articulated to support it, what historical foundation was behind it or anything else about it. But there’s a glaring absence of any reasoning or basis having surfaced or even any discussion of what occurred between what groups or members on why this reversal was decided. I mean glaring absence. No group or spokesman or even the head of the admin’s diversity office has provided anything on the reasoning or basis for why the historical foundation was vacated in deciding 2017’s Day of Absence. For such a radical change it would seem to me to have had to require a sound reasoning provided to or by the Administration before deciding upon this course.
I remind that this reversal DECISION was made by the administration PRIOR to March 15.
Bret Weinstein’s e-mail to the administration’s head of diversity programs, and copying all other admin and faculty was sent on March 15.
There was no response to Bret Weinstein from the administration that I can find on the web (if any they have been removed) or even referenced by dates in any accounts or news reports. The first response doesn’t occur until June 1… over a week AFTER the widely publicized video of the students confrontation with Bret Weinstein on Tuesday, May 23
The administration’s response was essentially a) it’s an Evergreen College historical event for decades, b) its voluntary. The response says in part (the only part I can find published):
“In the decades-long history of this event, it has ALWAYS been and will always be voluntary,” she said in a statement. “Furthermore, this is the first year white people have been invited off-campus, as people of color have been asked to participate off campus each year prior. During the antagonizing party’s multi-year tenure at Evergreen, he has not once expressed complaint for the invitation extended to people of color leaving campus.”
First of all I find the administrator’s response to several months late (Mar 15 to Jun 1) and second of all to be highly misleading.. since the 46 year history of the event begins with the request by minority blacks to absent themselves from campus to demonstrate the campus’s white community dependence (or recognition) of the minority blacks. The “people of color” were never “invited off campus” as much as they requested the permission to hold off-campus meetings on that day each year. “invited off campus” is a misleading technicality… it is in fact a pure and simple administration CYA statement.
In short the administration is playing catch-up after the fact protecting it’s own ass in it’s culpability to not address Weinstein’s e-mail specifically addressing the race reversal decision back in mid-March. If it was addressed, then I can find no information about it.
Note: there is one url that claims to publish 3 e-mail exchanges between Weinstein and the administrator but the link to those e-mail exchanges is broken (or has been made inaccessible)…or my Windows 8.1, 64 bit computer won’t retrieve them from the link (something I’ve never had occur in 4 years).
Every indicator I can find clearly indicts the administration for failure to clarify it’s reasoning or even to discuss the basis for a reversal of race after 46 years of the original and historically founded minority race day of absence, at all or in a timely manner and a failure to take any punitive measures after clear and obvious willful and intentional violation of college rules and regulations.
If the administration wanted to avoid creating a precipitating condition on the precipice between order and chaos it did nothing to demonstrate it.
For my own gut feel I have the impression that some student group (small or large) made the suggestion to the administrators diversity day in an open forum to reverse the race of absence. Rather than confront this suggestion as being outside the purview of the historical basis for the Day of Absence, the administrator chose to let this suggestion become the administration’s supported policy for 2017.
It would be my guess that if the administration had opposed or disallowed the suggestion, then it would have been accused of white racism. Thus to avoid that accusation and the probable outcome of having no Day of Absence in 2017, or one that would probably be a mess of student protests, pitting whites against minorities, they chose to appease the group that made the suggested race reversal for Day of Absence.
This was a rock and hard place decision… in either event there was going to be a backlash but they obviously felt the could deal with or manage the white backlash better than they could manage the minority backlash.
It also occurs to me that whatever group or groups suggested the reversal their intent was not to reduce racial issues but to escalate them and that the administration went along with this is probably the primary and major mistake and failure to administer at all. When a group of students decides on a radical change in an historical college event it is normally one to escalate an issue rather than mitigate it….. and it cannot be construed by any means that a reversal of race to absent the campus on Day of Absence was not a radical change.
My own pure guess is that this radical change was a mirror into the radical political change which occurred in November with Trump’s election on a campaign largely supporting white supremacy by inference and innuendo. This heightened awareness of the black minority that the U.S. was still as racist as it ever was .. and this realization would be even more pronounced by the college age minority youth.
Hence Business as Usual was not something the activists would want to support. When somebody pisses in your face the response is not going to be turn the other cheek.
So everything points to the administration’s failure to make rules and policies clear and understood before the fact. This was due to an inept administration (my opinion).
It’s difficult for me to reply to this last post without going into a long discursus on Evergreen history and politics that few readers would follow past the first paragraph. The problem is that the narrative for the 99.99% who are the outside the Evergreen box is minimally related to what actually happened on the inside. In particular, Bret Weinstein has centered the story around his own concerns and experiences (which is understandable), and in the absence of any competing narrative, it all seems to come down to whether or not you take his side on the “radical” assault on liberal values and his opposition to it.
(1) The process that resulted in the spring 2017 meltdown at Evergreen was well underway a year earlier. (2) It was not centered on plans for the Day of Absence or any other plan for that matter. It was not about policy. (Although it was put into overdrive by faculty resistance to mandatory diversity training during Spring 2016.) (3) Bret’s email campaign was directed at a proposed “Equity Plan” and then the change in the DoA. Both were symbolic, with minimal practical consequence. But the conflict at the college was almost entirely over symbolism. (4) The problem with controversies over symbolism is that there isn’t a “normal” political process for changing language and thought patterns. If my goal is to have everyone think in a certain way, anyone who thinks differently and expresses it out loud has to be opposed.
Here are a few more particulars about the DoA: (1) The “official” part of the program for 2017 called for an event at an off-campus church. This church had 200 seats; very few white students or faculty would be able to attend. (2) DoA has always been voluntary, and many faculty have ignored it and continue to ignore it altogether. (3) A number of faculty held classes that day outside the classroom, myself included. (My class was on campus, however.) For many of us, the important thing about that day is not the symbolism of location but simply taking the time to stop and think about the importance of racism in American life. (4) However: the tone of emails on the all-campus network could only be described as apocalyptic, with supporters of the cultural offensive (whites as well as nonwhites) describing the move as a historic reversal of power and privilege. (5) In other words, while the reality of DoA was fairly humdrum and benign, the rhetoric surrounding it was deranged. Bret’s emails took the rhetoric at face value and argued against the modest arrangements for DoA as if they represented an institutional rupture. (6) A faction of students, who shared the view that political action means demanding changes in thought and expression, read these emails and decided to make the expulsion of racist—or nonconforming—faculty and staff (including Bret) a centerpiece of their protest.
As someone who thinks there is a real political economy out there (including a political economy of racism), I see little value in taking sides in these symbolic controversies. The whole displacement of politics by rhetoric is the problem.
Thank you for taking the time to respond on AB. I have not had a chance to read your words beyond that of a post.
Peter, I also thank you for your response.
I will only make a couple of short points.
1. Symbolism counts and usually counts more than any real effect in the short term. Symbolism is often grossly under appreciated and usually is until after the fact. The symbolism of reversing the race to shift off campus relative to the historic basis at Evergreen for Day of Absence is a huge change in symbolism of racial causes, the practical effects as you say being near zilch.
I’m sure that symbolism reversal didn’t escape anybody’s attention, especially the administration’s, especially the admin’s “diversity” dept head, especially the whites, and especially the minorities. In short the symbolism was the intended effect.
You may think it shouldn’t have been the symbol it was in fact, but then you’re relegating symbols to a lower status than they have in fact, which I classify as a lack of awareness, or complete insensitivity to the relevance of symbols in societies, large or small.
When I watched Tommy Smith from my college which I still attended raise his clenched fist at the Olympic games on the podium I cheered wildly in front of our TV and my wife His raised arm clench fist was a symbol of the civil rights protests and movement …. his actual clench fists had no practical effect at all on anything BUT as a Symbol.
2. Bret’s e-mail to the diversity administrator on March 15 was copied to all other admin and faculty… he didn’t publish it in the College news paper or shout it from a campus microphone. He expressed a considered point of view and requested the administrator to think about what the symbolism of the reversal after 46 years actually meant.
In any institution, especially a university, it is imperative to express one’s opinion to the leadership when opposed to a leadership’s position, policy, or decisions. That’s why we have free speech (or so we’re told). I say imperative because without it there’s no chance to change or influence anything without resorting to physical force.
After Bret’s e-mail of March 15 I can only surmise it had some effect on other faculty (for or against) and administrators (for or against) but there is scant or no documentation of what effect it had on either faculty or admin, or what meetings ensued or what the reasoning was, or anything I can find relevant to the issue Bret raised.
Moreover, I can’t imagine that Bret was the only one in the faculty or administration that raised the same issue.. either in other e-mails or in meetings before or after March 15.
I can only surmise based on my experiences in similar controversies in various institutions over the decades that the issue didn’t die but was heightened, The end effect however was that the administration’s leaders backed the reversal of race decision decided by the admin’s adversity administrator.
Brett’s email became public to the students or at least a group of students and so Brett became a symbol of the opposition to that group’s interests.
But what in fact were that group or those group’s real interests? On the surface of things, it appears that their interests were to make a radical change to Day of Absence for purposes of making a radical statement… as a symbol. What was the symbol supposed to represent? I’ve never heard or read a rational answer by the administration’s diversity administrator or by any student group. Don’t you find that to be a glaring omission?
While student protests are standard operating procedure at almost any university, Evergreen being no different, the reversal of race on Day of Absenceit is none-the-less a radical statement ..and that is the symbol you refer to. What was this radical symbol supposed to do? What was the considered intent? Was the intent considered at all?
Was the intent to create more racial adversity? or reduce it? And that is what the administration failed to address beginning at least as early as March 15 if not sooner.
It’s not Bret’s e-mail that is or was the problem or issue at all.. it wasn’t even Bret who was the issue.. he and his e-mail were just symbols of the issue which by all accounts was not a minor one even before March 15 as you also confirm;.
Order or chaos? That is the administration’s business and reason d’etre. They failed, perhaps even deliberately, and that is what the Evergreen controversy is really all about.
Students will protest that is a given, often in a manner that isn’t conducive to any beneficial outcome in the near term and that was the case when I attended college … the era of racial and violent civil rights protests, followed by VN protests also often violent, and the “flower children’s” rejections of contemporary societal norms.
Peter, as a sociologist professor, I can’t imagine you not acknowledging the power of symbols on societies.
The Swastika was a powerful political symbol for the National Socialist party and during that period a symbol of anti-Semitism and Aryan racial superiority
The same symbol is used today with the same meaning.
The white-sheet hooded KKK became a symbol for white superiority ad black race suppression after the Civil war. It carries the same symbolism today.
Burning christian crosses on the front lawns of black residents was and remains the same symbol of white supremacy and black repression then as now.
The phrases “Cadillac queens” and “I’m for States Rights” were just as much symbols of white supremacy and anti-federal power to enforce civil rights in the 1980’s as they are today.
The rainbow colors of the LGBT is a symbol of the gay & lesbian rights movement.
Kneeling during the national anthem instead of standing with hand over heart or saluting the flag are symbols of resistance to black suppression.
In and of themselves none of these symbols do anything and have no practical effect of the actions themselves:.. waving or exhibiting flags, wearing hoods, burning crosses on lawns, uttering innocuous phrases in public, or kneeling instead of standing.
Just as you say 200 seats off campus or have no practical effect either.
But as symbols they have huge effects on society .. they can invoke or induce genocides and wars, civil and international, they can create revolutions, they can alter the course of history.
And they are all in the end a political symbol.. since of course their intent as symbols is to affect the political environment. You cannot downplay symbols as being something without effect by saying they are not of any practical significance in their actual acts
Being that you’re a sociologist I find in incredible for you to say that just because the “official event” was 200 seats somewhere off campus, and many faculty don’t participate or whatever, and thus there’s no practical effect indicates to me that you believe symbols are of impractical significance or that you didn’t realize the significance of the symbol created by reversing the race for Day of Absence long before it had real consequence of adverse publicity for Evergreen. .
Thanks for the commentary, Peter. (I was briefly under your wing for P.E.S.C. at TESC last century.) I tried to follow the events near the end of a trip to Japan in early June, especially at the urging of a former middle school classmate and not-at-the-same-time Greener who has recently vehemently taken up the “left eating itself”, “regressive left” and “ctrl-left” angles. Remarks such as you have provided here, above and below, were what I thought sorely missing.
Bret’s thoughts were mostly easy to absorb but I could absolutely nowhere find evidence that there was genuine, free-floating, sinister pressure behind the new DoA concept. His email exchange with Rashida Love, posted within a week of the debacle, looked to me like he was overreacting to a mere suggestion that had a paltry practical edge – a venue reserved for 200, with how many thousand white students enrolled? … nowhere except among people living far (in time and space) from Evergreen could I detect anyone taking seriously the idea that anyone anywhere actually *expected* anywhere near even a slight majority to absent themselves.
Being personally constitutionally opposed to essentially everything Fox News (particularly its founder) has ever stood/posed for, I couldn’t really help but be skeptical regarding the notion that there was nothing disingenuous about the decision to air this particular laundry via that particular platform. However, I’ve also seen no evidence that makes accusations like BillB’s, of “rallying the racist alt-right [for] support” look anything but absurd. At best it was naive “I have to get this out there somehow”, at worst it was ‘dirty pool’ born of anger towards those platforms who we might expect to give a fairer hearing, as far as I can tell nearly a year later. Maybe a little from columns A and B combined?
As a certain sort of Greener (let’s just say my time in Olympia profoundly de-prioritized academic pursuits – my late-onset 4-year degree took 8 years to complete), I have been content (with minimal reluctance) to get most of “Bret’s side” of the story filtered through Joe Rogan’s not-exactly-polished interviewing style. I only just found the Examiner article and your response today, after about five months of not looking into the thing.
After Pete Bohmer’s tepid hand-waving (I trusted that he was posting a substantive email thread, and defensively misspoke in support of someone I remember trusting before finding out there wasn’t anything like an expos’e in it), I was sadly not surprised that nobody was openly admitting what I almost thought i misremembered, but which you here confirmed: “many faculty have ignored it and continue to ignore it altogether.” As a student I would regularly regret not following it closely, cumulatively almost as much as I regretted declining to attend “the Battle in Seattle” with several roommates, former roommates and neighbors who had – well, a hell of a time to say the least … I would remind myself that Things Were Happening but would never commit to observing them closely. *Day* of Absence? A drop in the bucket compared with my worst habits.
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