Added security for graduation at The Evergreen State College

by: Kevin McCarty

The Evergreen State College.

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Students of the Evergreen State College along with family, and friends all had to pass through metal detectors as they entered Cheney stadium to attend the school’s 2017 commencement ceremonies.

Evergreen officials moved the graduation to Tacoma, more than 30 miles from campus,  on short notice following weeks of racial tension, student protests, and death threats that shut down campus earlier this month.

“This is not where I imagined holding our graduation this year,” Evergreen president George Bridges told the crowd as commencement got underway. “But I’m very glad we’re all here.”


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For the most part it was a typical graduation ceremony with students celebrating and getting their degrees. There were only fleeting mentions of campus unrest by speakers during the more than three hour event.

But one of the graduates asked to read a poem once his name was announced on the dais, then went on a diatribe aimed at law enforcement.

“All my prose are against the police,” said the student, repeating the similar lines several times. “My entire graduation is against the police.”

He received some applause, but another graduate who later addressed the crowd saying God bless and protect the men and women of law enforcement, “especially from those who are against the police” received much louder applause from the crowd.

A little more than two weeks ago the Evergreen campus was forced to close and cancel classes for several days after 911 caller threatened to execute people at the school.

National media attention focused on the annual day of absence sparked racial tension,  and right wing backlash online, and on campus as the alt-right group Patriot Prayer held a rally at the school Thursday. During the rally a fight broke out as someone wielded a knife in the crowd.

Some students said all these events were too disruptive.

“I find it rather annoying because of the logistical changes that we need to have happen,” said Annie Bouffio, who said members of her family were unable to attend her graduation because of the sudden relocation.

Others say the protests and even backlash are part of the activism that’s engrained in the school’s culture.

“I mean it’s a little frustrating,” said Sierra Lal, “but at the end of the day Evergreen always comes together I think. Together we always overcome it.”

“Nobody really understands our culture,” added graduate Haron Yunis. “The outside noises going on doesn’t really bother us.”