Update, 6/5 3:45 p.m.: Evergreen State College administrators reopened the campus at 3 p.m. Some Washington State Patrol officers, in addition to campus police, are patrolling the college campus "as long as needed to ensure the safety of all who visit, learn, work, and teach at Evergreen."
“At Evergreen, campus safety is our number-one priority,” Evergreen President George Bridges said in a statement. “After consultation with law enforcement today, we have determined there is no active threat to campus. We are ready to get back to the business of teaching and learning.”
Evergreen State College administrators closed the Olympia campus and cancelled classes today while local law enforcement officials review "new external threat information received over the weekend," according to a press statement released this morning. A caller threatening to "execute as many people as I can" on the Evergreen campus first triggered campus closures on June 1.
Local law enforcement officials recommended that Evergreen State College President George Bridges close the campus again today, said campus public relations representative Zach Powers.
"Law enforcement has determined that there no active, imminent threat," he said. "Today's closure is really just out of an abundance of caution... The safety of our students, staff, and faculty [is] our top concern."
Powers would not comment on the nature of the threat made over the weekend. It is not clear when the campus will reopen.
The campus shut-downs followed weeks of student demonstrations calling on Evergreen administrators to address longstanding issues concerning racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and treatment of students with disabilities on campus. Nearly 100 Evergreen faculty and staff members issued a letter in solidarity with students' demands that college administrators implement equity initiatives to better protect and serve underrepresented students.
A snippet from the letter:
We vehemently reject the claim that students have been violent simply because they have been loud and emphatic. There is a difference between exercising the right to freely voice an opinion and inciting violence—and that difference has nothing to do with volume or forcefulness.
We support the demands made by students and honor the positive institutional change they have already achieved through their protests. ...
In solidarity with students, we call for the Evergreen administration to:
* Center student perspectives in a persistent media approach to counter the alt-right narratives that are demonizing Evergreen and Day of Absence specifically.
* Take seriously the threats made to individual community members and use all available institutional resources to protect them.
* Demonstrate accountability by pursuing a disciplinary investigation against Bret Weinstein according to guidelines in the Social Contract and Faculty Handbook. Weinstein has endangered faculty, staff, and students, making them targets of white supremacist backlash by promulgating misinformation in public emails, on national television, in news outlets, and on social media.
In response to the student protests, State Representative Matt Manweller (R-Ellensburg) called on the state legislature to privatize Evergreen State College. On June 1, Manweller introduced a bill to "ratchet down state funding for Evergreen over five years," The Olympian reports.
He also sent a letter Thursday to the state Human Rights Commission asking executive director Sharon Ortiz to “take action to correct discriminatory practices or policies” at the college.
His bill has little chance of passing, especially as lawmakers are embroiled in their second special session over a court-ordered fix to public schools. The commission will review the letter but is not launching any investigation at the moment, Ortiz said Wednesday.”
UPDATE 6/5, 2:40 p.m.: This post has been updated with an excerpt from faculty letter supporting student activists' demands.