A pleasant and faithful reader called me this morning to object to what she called a gratuitous shot at The Evergreen State College at the end of today’s editorial. She believed I had smeared the whole school; when I was writing it, I was thinking of a very small number of students.
Lesson for me: Write so readers understand, but also write so readers can’t misunderstand.
I’ve been watching people connected to Evergreen, including former students and “groupies” who are merely friends of friends of students, engage in malicious mischief and outright assaults for a long time now. I don’t like to call them “anarchists,” because some schools of anarchism have respectable pedigrees. I promised her links to stories and articles. Here’s our exchange:
Though we disagreed on the phone, I did appreciate your civil tone.
Some of the links below don’t report arrests but do illustrate connections with people who practice vandalism and what they call “direct action,” which includes smashing photography equipment. Note the connections with last year’s May Day events.
My experience has been that for every person arrested or convicted, there are quite a few others cheering him on or other otherwise encouraging him. As you noted, that would apply as much to drunken idiots at the UW and WSU as it would to politically motivated actions by students connected in some way to Evergreen.
“Anarchist” “convergence” on TESC campus.
Former Evergreen student at last year’s May Day violence in Seattle.
Political graffiti reported (disapprovingly) on “anarchist” website.
2011 event on TESC campus to learn about Internet attacks to supplement “direct action” and “sabotage.”
Newspaper photographer roughed up after TESC professor tells “mainly students from The Evergreen State College” that the journalist shouldn’t be photographing protest. Afterward, The Olympian’s Tony Overman had his house and car vandalized.
Former Evergreen student convicted of arson at University of Washington. This is an old one; to me, it illustrates the persistence of this subculture.
Police pelted at anti-war protest.
Thank you for the links. I have read them, note that Paul Campeche, whose name I know, has had serious problems for some years and is not a current or recent Evergreen “student.”
Nor should we assume that a former student convicted of a bomb incident twelve years ago represents current students…..I maintain that, based on current evidence about the demonstrations in Olympia, you and (Cheryl) Tucker, with no evidence, should not have tarred all current Evergreen students.
Furthermore, I note in reading the links, that there is no reason to believe that the college encourages this activity (I know from experience that they too are most unhappy about them) or does not take all legal steps to stop them. My granddaughter, who graduated from Evergreen two years ago tells me that the group of students at Evergreen who participate in such activities are, in your words as applied to the Westboro Baptists, a “minuscule” number.
She and her fellow classmates did not think much of them; says they were definitely a “miniscule” number among a campus of some 4000. She also feels that they have been a diminishing number, fewer than she noticed when she enrolled some six years ago…..
In my experience of living in Olympia for many years, I noticed how many Evergreen students were noted for civic and social service: volunteering with homeless shelters, disadvantaged youth, women’s shelters, community gardens, etc. I also noted on a number of occasions that they took advantage of being in Olympia to engage with the Legislature and other elected officials, in researching pending bills, attending sessions, lobbying for causes.
Some thirty years ago a small group was active in trying to get some anti-drunk driving legislation. They came up with impressive statistics, worked with Legislative staff to draft and re-draft a possible bill. I was present when they lobbied a committee, to be told that “stiffer” laws were not likely to pass for two reasons: (a) there are powerful lawyers in the state who make a lucrative living off defending DUI drivers, and (b) just about every member of the Legislature quietly realizes that he or she might be pulled over at some time … We might be safer today if those students had been more heeded…..Other issues I remember concerned education, welfare, the environment. But those are less interesting news stories.
My conclusion: Your editorial would have been fine if you had just refrained from suggesting, without evidence in this case, that “Evergreen spawns an uncommon amount of political violence for its size” and suggesting that the college is remiss. I still believe that a brief statement of clarification would be in order.
My reply to her reply:
If it’s any comfort, I wrote the editorial, and at no time did it cross my mind that either the Evergreen administration or the majority of its students favored political violence. I don’t believe many people read it that way, because you are the only one who has contacted me.
When I said “spawns,” I meant that a subculture of young extremists has arisen there for some reason. Sometimes they are former students, sometimes they are hangers-on, but there has been a connection to the college. I don’t believe the college encourages it.
When I was younger, the vandalism, etc., was happening at my school, the University of Washington; I remember having to evacuate Suzzallo library because radicals had called in a bomb threat.
If so-called anarchists in Olympia decide to join the fun on May Day, I believe they are more likely to go to Seattle for various reasons, including opportunities for publicity.
By the way, I culled the above links off the Internet in about 20 minutes.