Wash. Lawmakers Consider Increasing Evergreen State College Security Funding Amid Protests
One incident prompted administrators to shut down the campus for 2 days after a threatening call was made to police.
Evergreen State College President Dr. George Bridges met with a state Senate committee Tuesday to request more money to help improve campus safety after weeks of student protests.
The protestors cite unfair treatment of minorities and LGBT students at the Olympia, Washington liberal arts school.
After a May protest, a group of the protestors released a statement to The Olympian, stating “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.”
Bridges was questioned by the committee about a protest in which he asked a law enforcement officer not to bring a weapon. His belief was that letting the student protest run its course would deter violence.
Intervention by law enforcement, he said, would have escalated the issue and potentially caused injuries and property damage. He admitted to the committee that he regrets his decision.
During a June 1 protest, a call was made to the police threatening to kill students, prompting the campus to be shut down for two days, according to the Washington Post.
The caller told police “I am on my way to Evergreen now with a .44 magnum. I am going to execute as many people on that campus as I can get a hold of.”
The FBI is now involved, investigating who made the threatening phone call.
Behind the Session
According to the News Tribune, the session included testimony from Bridges, Chief Stacy Brown of the Evergreen Police Services, Thurston County Chief Deputy Sheriff Dave Pearsall, and Representative Matt Manweller, a professor at Central Washington University.
Committee chair Senator Mike Padden, said the intent of the session was to investigate threats to students and faculty and how the school’s administration handled the threats. The discussion also included talks of how much the continued protests are costing Washington taxpayers.
“We cannot rely solely on the lean public safety presence that has been the tradition,” Bridges said during the session. “Our hard-working law enforcement officers need the training, equipment, and staffing levels necessary to ensure their continued ability to protect all on our 1,000-acre campus. I will be seeking help from the Legislature to meet the challenges of campus safety.”
Bridges presented the committee with steps the college has taken in recent weeks to improve campus safety, emphasizing the fact that the school will need more money from the state.
Some of the steps include:
- Hosting graduation at Cheney Stadium in Tacoma and providing attendees with additional security, including Tacoma police officers. The university paid $100,000 for the rental and services.
- Contracting the State Police to provide added campus security. So far, services have cost the university $135,000.
- Launching an investigation into recent property damage amounting to $5,000.
When asked what he plans to do with the individuals who have not protested peacefully, Bridges claimed that they are under investigation and may face punishment from the school or be criminally charged.
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