Students involved in on-campus protests at The Evergreen State College could be punished, according to college president Dr. George Bridges.
In May, dozens of protesters interrupted a class taught by Bret Weinstein, a biology teacher.
The students called for Weinstein’s resignation after he criticized moves to change campus policies involving race.
He also refused to participate in an April event where white students and faculty members were encouraged to leave campus.
Following the protest, Weinstein held classes off-campus. Campus police told him they could not guarantee his safety at the college.
“I was immensely disappointed with the students who obstructed his class,” Bridges said. “Those actions are indefensible.”
Bridges said the school is investigating the students involved.
The day after the Weinstein protests, a larger group of activists, as many as 200 students, took over the president’s office to raise concerns about Weinstein’s actions and the proposed changes to school policy.
Bridges refused to have campus police remove the students.
“I felt very comfortable. I never felt unsafe. It was a matter of listening to their concerns,” Bridges said.
Videos of the protests quickly circulated on social media and Weinstein wrote an editorial for the Wall Street Journal and appeared on the Fox News Channel.
A week after the protests, someone called Thurston County officials and said they were going to the college and “execute” people, causing the school to shut down for three days.
“It was all about safety," Bridges said.
He said law enforcement recommended he cancel classes.
That caller has not been identified, but investigators told Bridges the threat was later determined not to be viable.
Graduation is this Friday, but for the first time in school history, it won’t be held on campus.
Bridges said he decided to hold it at Tacoma’s Cheney Stadium out of safety concerns.
“We still get some harassment in messages and we want to ensure everyone feels perfectly safe so we can celebrate the accomplishments of our students,” Bridges said.
While the protests and threats have been a distraction, Bridges said demonstrations have always been a part of The Evergreen State College.
“We embrace challenges,” Bridges said. “We embrace different issues and tackle them through discourse and debate and that’s a part of who we are.”
He said when the debate focused on racism and free speech, the activism "took a turn that we did not expect."
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