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Evergreen State College reopens following closures over threats

Campus staff puts up signs closing The Evergreen State College campus in Olympia after a threat prompted a student alert and evacuation on Thursday.
Campus staff puts up signs closing The Evergreen State College campus in Olympia after a threat prompted a student alert and evacuation on Thursday. toverman@theolympian.com

The Evergreen State College campus reopened at 3 p.m. Monday, after being shut down twice in the past week because of threats to campus safety.

All classes and activities will proceed as scheduled, according to a press release from the college. The college was closed Monday “out of an abundance of caution” while law enforcement officials examined new information about threats to the campus.

“At Evergreen, campus safety is our number-one priority,” said George Bridges, president of the college. “After consultation with law enforcement today, we have determined there is no active threat to campus. We are ready to get back to the business of teaching and learning.”

The campus was evacuated Thursday and remained closed Friday in response to a call to 911 threatening the campus. After reopening Saturday, officials decided to close Monday after law enforcement received “new external threat information.”

Powers said Monday that he couldn’t elaborate on that threat. He declined to comment on whether the threat was new, or related to the one made on Thursday.

The Olympian obtained a copy of the threatening phone call made to law enforcement Thursday. In it, the caller said:

“Yes, I’m on my way to Evergreen University now with a .44 Magnum. I am gonna execute as many people on that campus as I can get a hold of. You have that? What’s going on there? You communist, scumbag town. I’m going to murder as many people on that campus as I can. Just keep your eyes open, you scumbag.”

The college’s police department, Evergreen Police Services, has been joined on campus by officers from the Washington State Patrol. The additional officers will remain on-site for “as long as needed to ensure the safety of all who visit, learn, work, and teach at Evergreen,” according to Monday’s press release.

The threat comes after weeks of student unrest at the public liberal arts college. Hundreds of students protested two weeks ago, citing racism and bias by some of the college’s employees.

Meanwhile, 86 staff and faculty members signed a statement Friday supporting the student protesters.

“We vehemently reject the claim that students have been violent simply because they have been loud and emphatic. There is a difference between exercising the right to freely voice an opinion and inciting violence — and that difference has nothing to do with volume or forcefulness. We support the demands made by students and honor the positive institutional change they have already achieved through their protests,” the statement reads.

Amelia Dickson: 360-754-5445, @Amelia_Oly

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