Education

She was harassed online after campus protests. Now, this Evergreen employee has quit.

A new study puts numbers to the impact The Evergreen State College has on Thurston County.
A new study puts numbers to the impact The Evergreen State College has on Thurston County. Olympian file photo

Rashida Love, director of the First Peoples Advising Services at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, has resigned, college spokesman Zach Powers confirmed on Friday.

She’s the fifth high-profile Evergreen employee to resign in the past year as the public liberal arts college has struggled with unrest and accusations of institutional racism.

A series of emails last spring between Love and former faculty member Bret Weinstein about a Day of Absence/Day of Presence activity fueled escalating racial tensions and put Evergreen in the national spotlight.

Each year, about 200 of the college’s nearly 4,800 students, faculty and staff members participate in the Day of Absence/Day of Presence, officials say. In past years, minority students have headed off campus to participate in programs and discussions.

This year, the idea was flipped, and white students who chose to participate were asked to go off campus to talk about race issues as a show of “solidarity,” Love wrote in an email to Evergreen’s staff and faculty.

Weinstein objected, saying he interpreted the new format as “a show of force, and an act of oppression in and of itself.”

On May 23, Weinstein’s class was disrupted by a group of students. Video clips of students calling Weinstein a racist, demanding his resignation and telling him to apologize to Love went viral.

A day later, hundreds of students protested in the college’s Red Square, and used furniture to block the main entrance of the library building, which houses the administration. Organizers said the event was in protest of “institutional racism” on campus. After that, Weinstein shared his views on Tucker Carlson’s FOX News show in a segment called “Campus Craziness.”

But the national attention drew a backlash. The college was closed for three days after death threats were made, and Evergreen’s graduation ceremony was moved to Cheney Stadium in Tacoma to provide added security.

In a June 14 story published in The Stranger, Love described Evergreen’s unrest as part of a wave of campus uprisings across the country.

“Our country is going through some growing pains right now, and race and equity are at the forefront, unfortunately,” she said. “I think all of that plays into how things have happened on our campus.”

Love worked in the student affairs program at Evergreen for about nine years. She and faculty member Naima Lowe were threatened and harassed online during and after the protests, Evergreen faculty members say. Both were on personal leave at the beginning of this school year.

On Sept. 15, the college announced that it settled a claim from Weinstein and his wife, Heather Heying. The couple agreed to resign from their faculty positions, and receive $450,000 and an additional $50,000 toward legal costs.

Stacy Brown, Evergreen’s chief of Police Services, who also was a target of student protesters, left in August to become a Tumwater Police officer.

And former women’s basketball coach Jennifer Schooler left last December. She and the college were recently named in a lawsuit filed by two students who are each seeking $500,000 for alleged racial and sexual orientation discrimination.

Lisa Pemberton: 360-754-5433, @Lisa_Pemberton

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