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Are Students At Evergreen State College Emulating 12-Year-Old Internet Trolls?

There is no denying that if something dangerous happens online, the repercussions can carry over into real life. This can take many forms. It can be the anxiety that comes with hearing a key phrase, it can be lunatics getting ahold of your phone number or it can be the stress from the knowledge that someone out there is sullying your name. The same goes for something that happens in real life, it follows you everywhere and, if it’s been recorded, it’s permanent.

“I have been told by the Chief of Police it’s not safe for me to be on campus,”

says the president of Evergreen State College, months after he had written an op-ed for the Washington Journal about “why students need trigger warnings and safe places”. Within this article, he supports the use of trigger warnings and the idea that college is supposed to be somewhere in which people can feel safe. So why, you may ask, is he standing in the middle of the room being mocked by a student of his?

In case the video has been removed, it shows a woman mocking the president of the school in front of an audience, and more importantly, in front of him. It is arguable that the crowd has something to do with the woman’s confidence in this cruel matter, perhaps she realises that she is going to be applauded. They are in the midst of a protest after all. Aren’t they?

To break down the situation, there is a day called the day of absence. What the day entails of is black people, both students and faculty by their own accord, go off campus to a safe space and discuss what is going on within their college. However, this current year someone wanted to change the day. Instead of making it a thing about choice, this person wanted to enforce the removal of white people from the campus. This is, again, as opposed to the free choice that black people could make to contribute in the discussion about their school. Bret Weinstein, a faculty member, pointed out an issue with this as detailed in the email below.

This is not a letter that intends to attack the recipient of the email, nor is it one that is convoluted with emotion. Rather, this is a literate and as he states in the email, formal protest, of the changes that were being made. In fact, he even goes as far to say that he would be willing to organise a public presentation of race and that all he requires is that ‘people attend with an open mind, and a willingness to act in good faith’. He is calling for a peaceful discussion, and offering to listen to those who may have opposing views. In return, he gets singled out, cornered and trapped within a place that should have been safe for him.

“Would you like to hear the answer or not?”

Weinstein asks at 2:26 in the video, previously having been drowned out by angry, repetitive shouting. Despite being forcibly contained, he is still trying to have a decent conversation with those who will not listen.


Yells someone else, and the angry, incoherent yelling continues. Another, unidentified faculty member, captures the gist of it quite nicely when he states that the students “are not learning anything”.

While the protesters may have had admirable goals; cornering people, shouting abuse and mocking a man who was trying to understand the situation, to his face should not be the way that people deal with things. It doesn’t matter whether you’re on the left, or the right, these things are inexcusable. They are cruel.

They do not open the door to discussion, nor do they take into account the people that are the victims of these witch hunts. Weinstein is in fact a liberal, and would have been open to listening to why his email may not have taken into account some vital things. But he can’t do that, because the people opposing him are too busy trying to tear him down than trying to educate him. 

Sometimes that mob mentality can get the best of people, but the fact of the matter is, you can’t erase other people. If you aren’t willing to have a discussion, nothing will get done. People who oppose your point of view will not simply disappear. Conversation is incredibly important, how else can you get across your valid ideas? Certainly not through getting up close to people, and making them fear for their safety.

Quite honestly, this was an embarrassment.

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