Education

‘It’s Life Or Death For Us’: Students Protest Racism, Police Brutality At College [VIDEO]

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Rob Shimshock Education Reporter
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Hundreds of students packed into a library and circled the college president’s office to protest racism Wednesday, prompting campus police to advise a professor to leave over fears for his safety.

Students at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash., protested racism by complaining about bigoted professors and carrying signs with statements like “Black lives matter: End the injustice,” according to The Olympian.

“It’s important. It’s necessary,” junior Halla Warmer told The Olympian, describing the protest. “It’s life or death for us.”

“This institution is really (messed) up and racist,” insisted freshman Shayna Clayton to The Olympian. “We shouldn’t have to deal with that.”

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The students blocked entrances to the library with furniture. Protesters issued the following statement to The Olympian:

“What started out as anti-black comments on social media has turned into the dismissal of the rights of students and femmes of color, physical violence by police, and false sentencing of students protesting. Black trans disabled students are actively being sought out and confronted by campus police constantly, police are refusing to explain their actions and harassment. Students will not stand for this anymore, as students of color have never felt comfortable on campus and have not been treated equally.”

Police allegedly had an order to stand down and told science professor Bret Weinstein that he was unsafe on campus, after students alleged the professor made racist remarks and demanded he resign.

Weinstein asserts that protesters are targeting students who defend him.

The protest marked the latest event in a series of racially tense exchanges. Students surrounded Weinstein and advocated for his resignation Tuesday. Protesters took issue with statements the professor had made in a March 2017 email to faculty.

“I would encourage others to put phenotype aside and reject [a proposed format for an Evergreen event],” Weinstein wrote. “On a college campus, one’s right to speak – or to be – must never be based on skin color.”

The professor proceeded to volunteer to host a discussion of race “through a scientific/evolutionary lens,” so long as people attended the event with “an open mind, and a willingness to act in good faith.”

“I do not believe students of color are targeted in the sciences here,” Weinstein told the students Tuesday.

Protestors asked the professor a question on race then shouted him down as he tried to answer.

“Would you like to hear the answer or not?” he asked students at one point, receiving cries of “no!” The cameraman filming the event told Weinstein to resign, which the professor said he would not do. The students soon began chanting “Hey-hey! Hey-ho! Bret Weinstein’s got to go!”

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George Bridges, president of Evergreen State proposed changes to placate the protestors later Tuesday. The administration recommended employing students to examine the school’s code of conduct, giving students more say in faculty evaluations, and training faculty on student engagement, anti-black racism, sexual assault, police brutality, and collaboration with transgender and queer students.

When a student asked whether the training would be required, Bridges said he would request that the Evergreen faculty union consent to mandatory training. The president also said he would try to raise private donations to fund the training.

He also assured students that the college police department would not work with Immigration and Customs Enforcement to track illegal alien students. When another student questioned Weinstein’s university employment, Bridges refused to comment.

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“It’s been an intense and useful conversation with a group of students,” said Zach Powers, Evergreen State spokesman, to The Olympian. “The college is working with the group to address their issues. This type of conversation is being replicated across the country right now. We remain committed to providing a great education to all students.”

“The protests, discussions, and meetings taking place now are for larger more systemic issues such as a lack of equity for black and brown students in the sciences, student worker jobs, even for faculty and staff of color,” said student Blake Vincent, who recorded the videos above and asserted that the protesters want more than just the discipline of the professor.

The Daily Caller News Foundation reached out to Evergreen State College and Weinstein, but received no comment in time for publication.

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