Evergreen State College, Caught Up in Racial Turmoil, Remains Following Threat of Violence

Evergreen State College (Courtesy of Evergreen State)
Evergreen State College (Courtesy of Evergreen State)

Evergreen State College remained closed Friday after county officials received an anonymous call Thursday morning from someone claiming to be armed and headed to campus.

The public university in Washington state has attracted national attention in recent days after protests over race erupted and video of the unrest on campus went viral. Last week, students of color confronted a professor who had objected to a request by school officials that white people consider avoiding campus on a day of discussions about race. They called him racist and angrily demanded that he be fired. Demonstrations continued the next day with a standoff with the college’s president and other officials. Video clips and news coverage were widely shared, with intense debate online.

Some were sympathetic to the complaints of the student protesters about racism on campus and the treatment of demonstrators, and students of color, by police officers.

Many were offended by their behavior, seeing the chaos as a symbol that liberal politics so dominate college campuses that civil debates about ideas have become impossible.

On social media, people wrote things such as, “Fascists at Evergreen College Demand Professor Be Fired for Teaching While White,” and shared videos of students shouting at white administrators.

Someone else called for a national no-white-people day so that nonwhite people “can have a day to just be for once.”

The college’s Facebook page is full of posts about the controversy and the protesters. One woman wrote that the college supports racism, and said every student in a video of the protest “should be expelled and prosecuted for a hate crime and the head of the school terminated for allowing this type of action at the school.” A woman writing as an graduate and community member wrote that “even though political tensions can make it a powder keg, I always figured it would explode with a riot, not a terrorist threat. Please be careful, current Greeners.”

Student protest leaders did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

One student wrote on social media that “our movement against police brutality & campus racism got co-opted by an angry white man.”

On Thursday morning, the Thurston County Communications Center received a 911 call from an unknown number with the threat. That afternoon, college officials announced that the school would close, sending people scrambling to quickly leave the Olympia campus.

Students who live in dorms were allowed to remain on campus, along with staff members in dining halls, residence halls and police, but all classes were canceled.

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