Washington State College Protests
In this Wednesday, May 24, 2017 file photo, hundreds of students at the Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash., protest against the college administration and demanded change after weeks of brewing racial tension on campus. Lisa Pemberton/AP

Evergreen State College Resumes Classes After Violent Threat and $10,000 in Damage

Jun 06, 2017

Evergreen State College resumed a normal schedule on Tuesday morning after several tumultuous days involving violent threats and vandalism that forced the public college to shut down.

The college in Olympia, Wash., suspended operations on Thursday after emergency operators received a call from a person claiming to be armed and driving to the Evergreen State College campus, threatening to "execute as many people on that campus as I can get ahold of."

While law enforcement officials searched the campus and found no credible threat related to the call, an incident of vandalism on Sunday night led to $10,000 in property damage, according to the county sheriff's office.

"They have had people walking around with sticks and baseball bats late at night causing property damage," Thurston County Sheriff John Snaza told the Washington Post. "They asked us to come out and assist."

The campus reopened on Monday afternoon.

The incidents followed protests over race on campus last month, when student protesters confronted and called for the removal of a professor who objected to a plan to ask white people to consider leaving campus for a day of discussions about race. The plan for the program reversed the school's longstanding tradition of hosting an optional "Day of Absence and Day of Presence" during which students and faculty of color have left campus for a day of community discussion.

This year, the program included an optional anti-bias training for white students off campus and an optional educational program for students of color on campus. In response to backlash, Evergreen State has emphasized that its "Day of Absence" programs have always optional and said no white students or faculty members have ever been asked to leave campus.

"Evergreen is not alone in colleges currently experiencing conflict, but because of our longstanding commitment to open and respectful debate it is imperative that the campus dialogue reflects these values. The tumultuous events of the last week have revealed the need to delve further into issues of diversity and equity at Evergreen," the school's Board of Trustees said in a statement on Saturday. "Going forward, the college will take a measured approach, which is crucial to ensure that we respond appropriately, rather than reactively."

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