The motto of 46-year-old Evergreen State College, “a progressive, public liberal arts and science college” in Olympia, Wash., is Omnia Extares – which translates loosely as “Let it all hang out.” And, oh, boy, do they ever: permitting – which translates as “encouraging” – students to hassle and harass a biology prof for speaking out against a semi-official “Day of Absence,” whereby all whites are “invited” to leave campus, in order that…
Hmm…“in order that” what? Prof. Bret Weinstein, described by his brother Eric as a center-left anti-racist, couldn’t make the connection. Supposedly the promoters of the occasion wanted to say something about their feelings of alienation since last year’s presidential election.
In an email, Weinstein protested the obvious difference between voluntary absence “from a shared space” – practiced by black students at Evergreen in the past, to demonstrate their human importance – and “a group or coalition encouraging another group to go away.”
On May 23, as Weinstein recounted in The Wall Street Journal, “an angry mob of about 50 students disrupted my class, called me a racist, and demanded that I resign. My ‘racist’ offense? I had challenged coercive segregation by race.”
It got worse. The cops had to be called. The protestors took over the campus library and disrupted a college occasion meant to honor professors taking emeritus status. And, yes, of course – there was nodding of understanding heads by campus authorities; a presidential promise not to file charges against anyone; and a pledge to initiate annual sensitivity training for all faculty, staff, and police, with a view to eliminating anti-black racism.
“Excuse me, Mr. Barrow, Miss Parker. I feel guilty our bank has all this cash! Would you permit me to give you some?” To just this “standard” of surrender and abasement our academic system has acclimated Americans.
Anyway, the last one heard, Prof. Weinstein had yet to be thumb screwed or staked out on an ant hill by the complaisant officialdom of Evergreen. Having gone public in the Journal he may come home any day to find a moving van in his driveway, thoughtfully furnished by the college.
Thus here we go again. Here we seem these days always to be going: muddle-headed academicians distancing themselves discreetly, or not so discreetly, from professors of moral mettle such as Bret Weinstein; pretending all the while, these academicians, that they’re just working on behalf of the misunderstood, the insufficiently appreciated.
Not that Evergreen is just any college, what with an acceptance rate of 98.9 percent and a student body composed (51.4 percent) of low-income students. “Power to Evergreen,” you might say? Does income status have anything to do with fitness for academic exposure? Of course not. On the other hand, economic vulnerability would seem to lay on the shoulders of educators the burden of equipping students with the knowledge and moral attributes most likely to advance their cause in the world.
How’s that going? Of Evergreen’s most recent graduates, fully 70 percent go to work in public agencies, non-profits, or community and social service: a pretty narrow horizon, given the sacrifices involved in class attendance and tuition repayment, and the labor entailed in the extinguishing or shaming of other people’s viewpoints.
Still, there’s this: Just 12 percent of Evergreeners go, with predilections and passions intact, into classroom teaching. Might be worse.