The News Tribune and The Olympian have obtained copies of emails written by an Evergreen State College professor who sparked a campus backlash and wider debate by criticizing a race-based event at the school.
Some students at the liberal college called for Bret Weinstein to be fired after he questioned the tactics of the people promoting the school’s annual Day of Absence.
The Day of Absence typically involves about 200 of Evergreen’s 4,800 staff and students, according to school officials.
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During previous events, minority students have headed off campus to participate in programs and discussions.
This year the idea was flipped, according to emails written by Rashida Love, director of the college’s First People’s Multicultural Advising Services program. White students who chose to participate were asked to go off campus to talk about race issues as a show of “solidarity,” Love wrote in a March email also obtained by The News Tribune and the Olympian.
Weinstein’s response to Love set off student protests, which at times were confrontational and tense, judging from videos posted online.
He claimed the event was “encouraging” white people “to go away” and was “an act of oppression in and of itself.”
Love responded by saying, “No one is being forced to attend either event.”
“There are however, many people in our campus community who believe it worthy to dedicate 8 hours of their lives to engaging in conversations around racism, equity and inclusion,” Love wrote in an email.
There have been other protests at the school regarding race and policing issues in recent months that go beyond the email exchange. Weinstein also sent other emails out regarding the Day of Absence and race that drew debate from some Evergreen staff.
But the first back-and-forth over the Day of Absence has drawn attention around the country.
The controversy surrounding the event and subsequent backlash has drawn attention in the state Legislature, too, where Republican Rep. Matt Manweller of Ellensburg has proposed privatizing Evergreen.
Read the initial exchange between Weinstein and Love below. The emails are in reverse chronological order, meaning the first email is at the bottom of the document.