Evergreen State, a small public liberal-arts college in Olympia, WA, traditionally hosts a yearly Day of Absence in which “students and faculty of color organized a day on which they met off campus—a symbolic act based on the Douglas Turner Ward play in which all the black residents of a Southern town fail to show up one morning.” This year was different, however, according to Bret Weinstein, a biology professor at Evergreen, who recounts events in the WSJ.
Racially charged, anarchic protests have engulfed Evergreen State College, a small, public liberal-arts institution where I have taught since 2003. In a widely disseminated video of the first recent protest on May 23, 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. Specifically, I had objected to a planned “Day of Absence” in which white people were asked to leave campus on April 12.
Evergreen is arguably the most radical college in the country—and while it does lean far to the left in a political sense, it is the school’s pedagogical structure to which I refer. Rather than placing students in many separate classes, most of our curriculum is integrated into full-time programs that may run the entire academic year. This structure allows students and professors to come to know each other very well, such that Evergreen can deliver a deep, personally tailored education that would be impossible elsewhere. When it works well, it is unlike anything else. Last week’s breakdown of institutional order is far from an indictment of our founder’s wisdom.
Rather, the protests resulted from a tension that has existed throughout the entire American academy for decades: The button-down empirical and deductive fields, including all the hard sciences, have lived side by side with “critical theory,” postmodernism and its perception-based relatives. Since the creation in 1960s and ’70s of novel, justice-oriented fields, these incompatible worldviews have repelled one another. The faculty from these opposing perspectives, like blue and red voters, rarely mix in any context where reality might have to be discussed. For decades, the uneasy separation held, with the factions enduring an unhappy marriage for the good of the (college) kids.
Watch Tucker Carlson’s interview with Mr. Weinstein on the student mob versus the professor.
Read more here.