Join us in celebrating the beginning of a new school year with this special message from the Vice President for Advancement, Amanda Walker.
Monday was the first day of classes at Evergreen.
New and returning students are brimming with excitement for the opportunities that lie ahead in interdisciplinary programs, hands-on experiences, and independent learning contracts. Last week, we joyfully welcomed over 1,200 new students and their families for their first taste of Evergreen. New students expressed great enthusiasm, some wonder, and even a little of the trepidation that sometimes comes with embarking on an unfamiliar path. Families expressed hopefulness for their students’ futures.
This moment in the year is incredibly powerful. Some new students are so eager, they (almost) vibrate with potential. I’m confident in their capacities because I’ve met so many extraordinary, accomplished alumni.
These new students will follow in the footsteps of their predecessors. They will create new organizations, teach, lead, serve others, invent things, and express themselves creatively. They will make our world more just, equitable, and sustainable.
We welcome these future alumni after a notable period in Evergreen’s history, precipitated by events that occurred during Spring quarter. It has been a time of uncertainty for many members of our community and therefore steps are being taken to ensure that all of our students can enjoy an Evergreen education in a safe environment and that staff and faculty can facilitate teaching and learning in settings where diverse thoughts and perspectives are valued and respectfully communicated. This means ensuring our campus is free of behavior that harms, threatens, or harasses; or disrupts classes, programs, or campus operations.
I’m pleased to share a few of the steps we’re taking to safeguard our students and ensure they are at the center of their education including:
- Supporting students in voicing their concerns. A guide to free speech activity for students has been developed to help students express concerns. Free speech events offer students an opportunity to organize and convey a message. Evergreen provides an education designed to help students change the world. Activism and free speech events are an important element of that work and are welcome at Evergreen. This type of civic action is supported and representatives of the college will continue to engage with participating students to listen, discuss, or respond to the issues raised.
- Campus safety. Like many campuses across the nation, we are drafting policies that govern the way outside individuals and groups have access to and engage on campus. Although we will not deny access to groups based upon their stated views or beliefs, we are developing specific measures that preserve Evergreen as a designated public forum for the use and educational benefit of the campus community. These measures, in the form of policies governing use of campus public spaces, were enacted on an interim basis prior to the start of fall programs and classes. We have implemented a rule that restricts weapons on campus. Additional measures are being taken to strengthen partnerships with law enforcement and to provide training.
- Advancing equity and inclusion. On October 2, our new Vice President and Vice Provost for Equity and Inclusion, Dr. Chassity Holliman-Douglas, joins Evergreen. Plans are being developed for a new Equity Center on campus. We’ve renewed our commitment to supporting undocumented students. A few weeks ago, over 100 Native artists came to Evergreen for an international gathering of indigenous artists hosted by our Longhouse Education and Cultural Center. Last week, we hosted welcome receptions for Veterans, students of color and LGBTQQIAA students. There’s more to do to ensure that we can fulfill our promise of an Evergreen education free from discrimination for every student regardless of background. We’re wholeheartedly committed to this goal.
I’m proud of the work we’ve done, and will continue to do, to strengthen the college for the good of future generations of Greeners. I’m also proud that we’re part of the national conversation around equity and inclusion that’s alive on many campuses across the country. In the spirit of our founding, we’re vigorously questioning our approaches and identifying opportunities to lead.
Thank you for being a part of our Evergreen community. Please stay in touch.
Warmest wishes and heartfelt thanks,
Vice President for Advancement, The Evergreen State College
Executive Director, The Evergreen State College Foundation