Education

Safety concerns prompt Evergreen to move commencement ceremony

Graduate Michael Hunecke of Saint Charles, Illinois, cheers during the 2014 commencement ceremonies at The Evergreen State College in Olympia. This spring’s commencement ceremony is being moved to Cheney Stadium in Tacoma because of safety concerns.
Graduate Michael Hunecke of Saint Charles, Illinois, cheers during the 2014 commencement ceremonies at The Evergreen State College in Olympia. This spring’s commencement ceremony is being moved to Cheney Stadium in Tacoma because of safety concerns. Staff Photographer

The Evergreen State College will move its commencement ceremony to Tacoma’s Cheney Stadium because of safety issues, college officials confirmed Tuesday.

Evergreen traditionally has an outdoor commencement ceremony in its Red Square on campus. Cheney Stadium is about 35 miles from the Olympia campus.

In an email sent to graduating students and faculty obtained by The Olympian in a public records request, college president George Bridges wrote: “Evergreen’s commencement is a celebration of achievement, and a high point of the year for our graduates, their families, and our whole community. In consideration of recent events, and in consultation with the Evergreen Board of Trustees, I have decided we will celebrate commencement at Cheney Stadium in Tacoma, on Friday, June 16.

“The stadium is a great, central venue, which is secure and offers plenty of seating and parking to accommodate our community,” Bridges wrote. “Our coordinating team is in action now to plan and prepare for what will be a meaningful day of celebration. They will soon share with you important details about times and the program.”

Evergreen spokesman Zach Powers said because college officials are still working out the details, he didn’t know how much it would cost to hold the ceremony at the alternate venue.

Aaron Blank, a spokesman for the Tacoma Rainiers and Cheney Stadium, said he couldn’t confirm anything about the graduation ceremony at this time, and referred media inquiries to the college.

The 4,000-student state-run liberal arts college has been shut down twice over the past week because of threats of violence to the campus. It has been getting national attention after a May 24 student-led protest over race relations between some of its students and college employees.

Lisa Pemberton: 360-754-5433, @Lisa_Pemberton

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