“A sea of people engaged in a shared delusion”: a three-part video about the fracas at The Evergreen State College

April 5, 2020 • 12:45 pm

I don’t know how I missed this article and the three video segments it discusses, as it came out in Areo a year ago, and I’ve been following the saga of The Evergreen State College (TESC) since 2017. That’s when the trouble began with the “Day of Absence” at the College, when biology professor Brett Weinstein refused to leave campus at the demand of the students of color, and all hell broke loose. (You can see all my posts about it here.) After Weinstein wrote an email to the campus explaining why he refused to be forced off campus, he and his wife, biology professor Heather Heying, were demonized, and eventually forced out of TESC with a meager settlement. In the meantime, the College was swept with rioting and rage, and the administrators, in particular the invertebrate President George Bridges, simply caved into the students’ demands, prostrating and self-abasing themselves in a race to be the most repentant about racism.

Click on the screenshot to read the piece; I’ve put the three videos that constitute the documentary below; they’re all on YouTube.

The movie is centered on Weinstein and Heyer, who have a discussion with Helen Pluckrose, Peter Boghossian, and James Lindsay—the “grievance studies” trio. Present as well is the filmmaker Mike Nayna. The discussion is well integrated by the many horrifying video clips that will show you how far the termites have dined at TESC—and many American schools. (They’re starting to nibble at The University of Chicago.)

I think the three parts are very good, and even if you remember the controversy and already saw some video, there’s a lot new here. And what you’ll see (if you’re sane) will astound and sicken you. It’s well worth the 1.5-hour investment of time.

Part 1, “Bret Weinstein, Heather Heying, and the Evergreen Equity Council”, shows that the seeds of the trouble started well before the Day of Absence, when the College devised an Equity plan, didn’t send it to the faculty for vetting, and then demanded that everybody adhere to it without discussion.  Notable in this initiative is its infusion with Critical Race Theory, especially the claim that all white people are by definition racist, and if you ask for evidence for that, you’re being even more racist. In other words, you can’t win if you’re white, even though Bret and Heather had a long history of antiracism.

You’ll notice similarities between the students’ and professors’ behavior to what happened during China’s Cultural Revolution: accusation, rage, debasement, and punishment.  You will enjoy what happens at 21:00, when the Equity Committee asks senior administrators to “get in the canoe” (they line up in twos), but before they do they have to espouse their antiracism. It’s embarrassing—and hilarious!

Finally, in all of this you’ll notice that the students continually decry the “institutional racism” of TESC, but, as far as I know, and as Bret says, there WAS no “institutional racism” at TESC. These are simply made-up complaints that you’re not allowed to question. Asking for evidence of racism, after all, is racism.

Part 2, “Teaching to Transgress”, continues documenting the indoctrination of the College by students and professors who are Woke, and then Weinstein and Heyer relate the dreaded “day of absence” incident and what ensued. Note the claim that “To ask for evidence of racism is racism with a capital R”, and the students’ demands that science teachers have their attitudes “adjusted” and then should be disciplined if they don’t “adjust.  You will see what a craven invertebrate Bridges is, and yet he remains as President of the crumbling College.

Day of absence.


In Part 3, “The Hunted Individual”, the punishment of Weinstein, Heyer, and the humiliation of Bridges (who is barricaded in a room and not allowed to pee) continues. You’ll cringe when you see video of the students invading a faculty meeting, producing what Weinstein calls “a race to the bottom” among faculty members to see who can virtue signal most vigorously.

If, after you watch all three parts, you’re not angry at the entitled students and the craven faculty, as well as with the repugnant Bridges, you’re on the wrong website. At any rate, when you’re sheltering at home this is a good way to spend 1.5 hours. And remember, as Bret says at the end, this kind of insanity is not limited to TESC: it’s spreading to other campuses, to the media (I’m talking to you, New York Times) and to politics.

A warning to other colleges: Evergreen, as Bret notes, has suffered greatly because of the College’s failure to clamp down on extreme Wokeness. Enrollment there has dropped by 50%, the budget has plummeted, and staff and faculty are being let go. I can’t say I’m sorry to hear that. TESC is now a laughingstock among American colleges, and I’d think hard before telling any young person to study there.

39 thoughts on ““A sea of people engaged in a shared delusion”: a three-part video about the fracas at The Evergreen State College

  1. As WEiT’s resident TESC defender of sorts, I’ll say this: I watched the documentary, and found it contributing to my overall sensation of sadness at the whole thing. The students who misbehaved, the administration’s miss-steps, and how Weinstein has represented the situation are just really unfortunate.
    There are some very admirable and excellent things about the model of learning TESC offers. Now that is overshadowed by this. The students who would benefit from the model will now suffer and other institutions will be hesitant to try again.

    I just wish other faculty were better represented. Weinstein is not representative of the feelings of the science faculty, as I understand it. I find him to be off putting at best. It would seem to some he’s turned the his criticisms into a profit-driven endeavor.

    1. I don’t agree with you about Bret. He was representing the situation accurately before he was even fired, and I have heard privately from a few science faculty that back up his account completely.

      How do you know that Weinstein’s take on what happened isn’t the same as the rest of the science faulty? And if it isn’t because they are more woke than he is, well, they’re misguided.

      The videos speak for themselves, and it’s well known that Bridges not only asked the police to stand down and not protect Weinstein, but caved in to all the student demands (see the videos). Why didn’t the administration protect its faculty? Why did some students walk around like thugs with baseball bats? (There are photos.)

      Yes, TESC had a good MODEL of learning. Too bad it got corrupted by wokeness.

      I’m not sure why you’re defending the school Yes, they have a good model of teaching, but Weinstein and Heying were exemplars of that model. Their teaching ratings were outstanding. It’s only a person with confirmation bias who could still defend the school after everything that has come out about it, and not just here but in the media. And you’re not defending the school over its behavior, you’re defending the model that it was supposed to instantiate.

      I wouldn’t send a crow to TESC to be educated by a faculty like that, and people agree: enrollment has plummeted.

      As for Weinstein’s profits, he rarely speaks of TESC. He talks about other stuff like evolution. So don’t distort the situation.

      1. I did try to word my comment carefully. I don’t agree with the students’ actions, nor the administration.

        I’ve followed Weinstein since before the fracas and listened to a fair number (okay, rather more than a fair amount) of hours of his videos and interviews he’s given, so I do think I have a good feel for what he promotes and talks about. As I mentioned before, I live in the area, have spoken to campus officers who were there at the time as well as to faculty and former students. I don’t mind disagreeing on whether he is representative of the science faculty as a whole- I know for certain you and I have spoken to at least one of the same other professors, and I value his opinions greatly.

        So, all that said, not a defense, just a feeling of dismay at this point.

          1. PDM, I’m doing as well as one can in this strange time. My lab supports an essential industry here in WA, and so I’m working as normal. Sent the kiddo down to my folks while school is out. Embarking on a lot of culinary creative adventures in my down time. I think the biggest blow, for me personally, was the shutting down of tours at our Capitol, I’m a volunteer legislative guide and I love my shift every month. How are things with you?

            1. Holding the line. Eyeing the PPE inventories each shift. Watching the Standing Medical Orders and Procedures changing daily. Isolating from the family. Waiting for the hammer to fall.

              In as few words as possible, it sucks. But since I had military time, it was like getting back on the horse. My family is safe and well. I’m working. And as for cooking, I’ve gone Japanese, noodles and fish (smoked or salted, though).

              1. Glad to hear it friend. Stay safe and well, and if nothing else this extra time in has allowed for more reading and commenting.

      2. “… like pointing out errors and typos I make (which I like to correct ASAP)”

        “How do you know that Weinstein’s take on what happened isn’t the same as the rest of the science faulty?”

        It’s a faulty faculty, Fawlty 😉

      3. I’m sorry but Bret was not accurately representing anything. He spun a good story in his favor. As someone who witnessed this first hand it disgustes me on what he got away with. My wife was working for the college at the time and my daughter attends the child care center there.

        You should also check your sources as Bret and his wife were not fired in fact the school refused to even investigate the accusations that had been made for years. He resigned and him and his wife walked away with 1.5 million dollars. I don’t see that as trivial settlement.

        I don’t agree with what some of the students did. They went too far but I can understand their frustration. Also it is sad his childern were negatively affected by this. Even if students had an issue with him and his wife in their grading, the children should never been involved.

        Unfortunately a pretty decent school was negatively affected by poor decisions made by everyone involved. Bret also bears responsibility in that because he also made poor decisions.

        My wife was offended by him numerous times. The school should have taken action instead of staying silent. They let him control the narrative and let him greatly mislead the general public, including you it seems, with his misrepresentation of actual events. Especially on his inaccurate portrayal of day of presents, day of absence. He lied about many things, but a tip to you, if you want to right articles on this Bret isn’t a reliable source, you won’t get the truth from him.

        1. The videos and emails speak for themselves. As for your claims, they’re ridiculous. For one thing, as it says in the video, Weinstein was told they didn’t want him back. The settlement, which you can easily see (eg here) was half a million dollars: $450,000 for the couple and $50,000 for attorneys’ fees. And yes, that’s a trivial amount given that their joint income from the college was terminated forever.

          You can understand the students’ frustration? At what? There has been no evidence throughout this narrative that there was any “structural racism” at TESC nor instances of racism attribute to Bret. Your wife was “offended by him”? You give no instances of that nor instances of racism in the College in general.

          A tip to you; if you want to get this right, stop making up stuff like tripling the amount of the settlement or citing any of “the accusations that were made against him for years.” Your whole letter is completely devoid of facts supporting whatever counter-narrative you’re offering. The only tangible fact you offer is that your wife was “offended”. Well, I’m sorry about that, but you don’t describe the “offense”, and against that stands an hour of videos showing TESC students behaving like entitled brats, and of the administration caving into them. The video speaks for itself. The place is toxic.

    2. “The students who misbehaved, the administration’s miss-steps, and how Weinstein has represented the situation are just really unfortunate.”

      The Stalinist show trials were also somewhat unfortunate.

      1. This more reminds me of what happened at German universities after the coming to power of Hitler. Then, Nazi loving students hounded and drove out faculty, burned books, and restructured curriculum to fit racial ideology.

      2. I’m reminded of the video of the meeting where Sadam Hussein took power and had certain politicians taken out and others ululating their loyalty to him. Am also reminded of the exquisite toadying surrounding Trump.

    1. I’m fortunate that the few conferences I’ve gone to that ask you to state your gender and pronouns before starting were polite enough to not get upset when some of us just equally politely, passed. I would hate having to deal with that every day in a class.

  2. And this is how Trump wins re-election, as the Left consumes itself from the inside. I already see the never-Biden crowd ramping up their outrage.

  3. The canoe episode is absolutely ridiculous. How can rational adults not refuse to participate?

  4. “It’s well worth the 1.5 hour investment of time”: well, work – and life generally – are on hold, so very many thanks for supplying something interesting to fill the gap!

      1. Well, TESC now has about 2/3 the enrollment it had, while other colleges in WA have higher enrollments. TESC needs to be funded accordingly. It is an educational institution, or is supposed to be, not a make work project.

  5. The TESC phenomenon—“the students’ demands that science teachers have their attitudes “adjusted” “—is particularly disturbing because it seems to be a case of Lysenkoism without either Lysenko or imposition from above of state-ordered ideology. The seeming natural growth of know-nothing ideology on the Left is why, despite a lifetime of leanings in that direction, I no longer feel any indulgence whatsoever toward “The Left”.
    One has to admit that, however moronic the
    Young Republican organizations seem to be, they have never demanded that science and scientists be subjected to, uhhh, adjustment. This tendency has emerged too often for comfort in the Soviet purges (starting in the late 1920s), the Lysenko period, the Chinese cultural revolution, and now our TESC phenomenon.

  6. Where are these people in 2020? The Dean, the Provost, the faculty, the students who spoke and that awful woman who preaches white guilt?

    1. Are you referring to Naima Lowe, a young
      African-American professor of art and film, who was inclined toward hysteria and “fought the cult of civility” at TESC? She resigned, received a settlement from the college, and is now a free-lance arts operator. Or do you mean Robin DiAngelo, a white, professional consultant on the issue of white guilt, who has made this service into into a business plan?

      1. That awful woman is, I assume, Robin DiAngelo about whom you can learn more at https://robindiangelo.com

        Among her wonderful pronouncements: “My area of research is in Whiteness Studies and Critical Discourse Analysis, explicating how whiteness is reproduced in everyday narratives.” and “I grew up poor and white. While my class oppression has been relatively visible to me, my race privilege has not. In my efforts to uncover how race has shaped my life, I have gained deeper insight by placing race in the center of my analysis and asking how each of my other group locations have socialized me to collude with racism. In so doing, I have been able to address in greater depth my multiple locations and how they function together to hold racism in place. I now make the distinction that I grew up poor and white, for my experience of poverty would have been different had I not been white” (DiAngelo, 2006).

        Holy crap, what a bunch of manure. I finally got a chance to watch the 1.5 hours and I can only say that I cannot imagine a TESC grad getting a real job with this on their resume.

  7. A real positive of the Evergreen debacle is that it has provided Heather Heying with a larger stage. She is great. I follow her on Twitter and have seen some of her interviews. A calming thoughtful commentator.

    1. Hear, hear. Regardless of one’s politics, Heather Heying is worth listening to. Even when I disagree with her, I respect her thoughtfulness and commitment to freedom of expression.

  8. Because Covid-19 is so much at the forefront of my mind, my first thought on seeing this is an analogy along those lines. This strain of Wokeness is so deadly to its hosts that I think it will actually burn itself out. It may, however, mutate into something more insidious but sustainable. (The analogy being that, in learning about Covid-19, I’ve learned that viruses tend to mutate to less deadly strands for this reason, although, unfortunately, over lengthy periods for viruses. I think human social experiments evolve a bit faster, however, as people can make conscious decisions about them.)

  9. Thank you for your article and for posting the videos. I do want to correct the date, which by now you know is 2017, not 2007. I’m an alumnus of TESC. I attended just after getting out of the Army and at a time when Interdisciplinary studies were fairly new. Leo Daugherty, Beryl Crowe, Matt Smith, Susan Smith, Susan Aurand and many other talented faculty really set high standards: urging, cajoling, demanding, that we dig deep, think, and above all ask questions. I don’t know how the college fell into such a mess by hiring the current president, but I do know that if Evergreen does not return to its first principles, it will disappear.

  10. Nope. This article is slanted. I graduated from TESC, during those riots. TESC…racism?? Against whom?? Best include caucasians, at the top of that dream sheet. Awfully bloated teachers of color, choking on their own “hate-whites” bile. I did get a great education from TESC, in the humanities. However, the wickedness of the “white hating hate machines – a.k.a. – dubbed “teachers” – scarred me for life. But i’ll be okay.

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