Evergreen president wants more money for campus police

George Bridges, president of The Evergreen State College, said he plans to ask lawmakers for more money to beef up public safety on the Olympia campus.

“We cannot rely solely on the lean public safety presence that has been the tradition,” Bridges told the Senate Law and Justice Committee during a work session on Tuesday. “…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.”

Evergreen has been the scene of student unrest, protests and threats, sparked by allegations of racism at the campus in recent weeks.

Committee chair Sen. Mike Padden said the work session was convened to find out more about the threats to student and faculty safety, the administration’s response and how much it’s costing the state’s taxpayers.

The 90-minute work session featured testimony from Bridges, Evergreen Police Services chief Stacy Brown, faculty member Mike Paros, Washington State Patrol chief John Batiste, Thurston County Chief Deputy Sheriff Dave Pearsall, and Rep. Matt Manweller, who introduced a bill to withdraw state support from Evergreen. Manweller also is a professor at Central Washington University.

Bret Weinstein, who has been at the heart at the controversy at the college, was scheduled speak, too.

“Although Professor Weinstein had previously contacted our staff and agreed to testify, he subsequently contacted us through his attorney and informed us that he would not be available for today’s hearing,” Padden said.

The college has taken several steps to boost safety in recent weeks, including:

▪ Contracting with the State Patrol to provide additional security on campus. Batiste said his agency has spent about 2,000 hours, which equals about $135,000, in service to Evergreen.

▪ Renting Cheney Stadium in Tacoma for last Friday’s graduation of about 1,000 students. The college paid about $100,000 for the rental, and that included on-site Tacoma Police officers and additional security, Bridges said.

▪ Investigating about $5,000 in property damage that was done on campus recently, Bridges said. An earlier estimate of the damage given by Thurston County Sheriff John Snaza was about $10,000 in graffiti, broken windows and other property damage.

▪ Receiving about $12,000 worth of assistance from the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office. This was done through mutual aid, which means the county will foot that bill, Pearsall said.

After the work session, a group of Evergreen students expressed frustration that student voices weren’t included in the testimony.

“We need more student involvement,” student Vee Ramsey told a group of reporters. “Students (need) to able to speak about what’s going on or else nothing will be resolved.”

Lisa Pemberton: 360-754-5433, @Lisa_Pemberton