Prof blames Weinstein for student hysteria at Evergreen State

Toni Airaksinen
New York Campus Correspondent

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  • A Whitman College professor is blaming Bret Weinstein for provoking Evergreen State students into disruptive protests earlier this year by treating their concerns "dismissively."
  • Student protesters drove Weinstein from campus, and later held administrators hostage, after learning that Weinstein had objected to a "white absence" event in a faculty-wide email.
  • A professor in Washington is blaming Bret Weinstein for the recent hysteria at Evergreen State College, accusing him of being “dismissive” toward student concerns.

    “Bret Weinstein chose to voice his objection in an unfortunate form, sparking an already charged campus community into an explosion,” Whitman College professor Christopher Leise asserts in an op-ed for Inside Higher Education.

    "Tired of leaving diversity issues to ‘the other,’ [students] took them to white people."   

    Weinstein found himself at the center of a national controversy earlier this year when students became aware of his response to a faculty-wide email announcing that Evergreen State’s annual “Day of Absence” had been changed so that white students and faculty would be asked to leave campus for a day of diversity programming, rather than black students and faculty absenting themselves from campus for the same reason.

    In his reply, Weinstein asserted that there was “a huge difference” between the two approaches, calling the new program “an act of oppression in and of itself.” A mob of students then confronted him during one of his classes, eventually forcing him to flee campus after police officers told him they could no longer guarantee his safety.

    [RELATED: Conservative student flees radical climate at Evergreen State]

    Leise contends that because Weinstein “chose to castigate rather than investigate the students’ actions” and “came off as dismissive rather than unconvinced of an inchoate by legitimate proposal,” he caused students to “become defensive rather than inquisitive,” thereby provoking their over-the-top reactions.

    “As a faculty member at a liberal arts college, Weinstein might have chosen not to chide but to question the student leadership encouraging the participation of white people in absenting themselves from the Evergreen community,” Leise writes, suggesting that Weinstein could instead have asked, “Who are the white people in our community?”

    This question, Leise asserts, would have forced the campus community to define “white identity” and identify who enjoys the “specific privileges” it confers.

    “Evergreen’s students initially acted bravely in standing up for a righteous cause. Tired of leaving diversity issues to ‘the other,’ they took them to white people,” Leise continues, though he concedes that some students took things “too far” by “personally insulting” the school’s president, George Bridges.

    [RELATED: VIDEO: Evergreen protesters hold admins hostage over demands]

    He nonetheless argues that Bridges faced an intractable situation after Weinstein “moved the issue past the Evergreen students’ specific proposal to generalizing broadly about exclusion,” saying this forced the administration to address “already-defined national causes and concerns” that restricted its ability to take meaningful action.

    “That a group of Evergreen students might not yet be able to articulate the reality of American white identity speaks less to their ideals and their ambitions than it does to the fact that the conversation does not seem to have gotten where it needs to go,” Leise concludes. “Absent a will to instruct through reasonable questioning even—or especially—in fraught circumstances, I worry it rarely will.”

    Neither Leise nor Weinstein responded to a request for comment from Campus Reform.

    Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @Toni_Airaksinen



    Toni Airaksinen

    Toni Airaksinen

    New York Campus Correspondent

    Toni Airaksinen is a New York Campus Correspondent, and reports liberal bias and abuse on college campuses for Campus Reform. She is a junior at Barnard College, and also contributes regularly to The College Fix, USA Today College, Red Alert Politics, and Quillette Magazine. She formerly held a post with the Columbia Spectator and has been featured on Fox News and on the Drudge Report.

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