I grew up running on your fields, scoring in your hoops, lifting your weights, enjoying your Super Saturdays, and cavorting with your faculty’s kids. I saw Nirvana, Soundgarden, Maya Angelou, and Ani DiFranco there. I even attended, after U.S. News & World Report gave you props. But then again, so did High Times magazine.
What has happened to you?
Evergreen began as a freewheeling, free-thinking institution known for keggers in the pools, nude beaches, and non-traditional interdisciplinary learning with evaluations rather than grades. The college's hippy origins only slightly overshadowed it’s impressive academic standing, accomplished faculty, and alumni achievements.
Then something changed.
Annual May Day protests started by students became violent and destructive.
Current college president George Bridges was detained in a student takeover that forever tarnished Evergreen’s national image.
And it hasn’t been fixed.
A stated commitment to diversity has usurped a commitment to diversity of thought and academic freedom.
And it has gotten worse.
Faculty member Brett Weinstein was forced to leave the college after raising a voice of dissent against a call by staff and students of color for all white people to stay home for a Day of Absence.
The steady decline has led to Evergreen’s enrollment dropping by over 40% over the past decade, with no rebound in sight.
Until now I’ve blown off calls to convert the college to something else. I’ve considered such statements as ignorant drivel.
Dissolving Evergreen would be about as smart as disbanding the police.
Reform it, maybe.
Destroy it, no.
All three finalists vying to become Evergreen’s next president recently backed out after meeting with the board of trustees.
Who does that?
People in shock?
People who have just found out something terrible?
People with incredibly bad luck?
Only one of the three finalists has commented his withdrawal from consideration for the president’s job, with a very benign explanation: "Do I want to leave the work I am leading here? It’s more about what’s going on here."
Unless we find out that something crazy happened to all three finalists (very unlikely), rather than something crazy was disclosed to all three finalists (my fear), it may be time for the fat lady to sing.
David Ross attended The Evergreen State College while working as a grocery checker. He has been a psychiatric social worker, documentary filmmaker, and college faculty in his hometown of Olympia where he also produces The David Ross Show and podcast.