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Dispatch from the Sit-in at Evergreen

The occupation at Evergreen continues.
Not too many personal accounts have been posted online about the sit-in/occupation at The Evergreen State College for the reinstatement of Olympia Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). It started Wednesday, May 21st around 4pm and has continued since. Just before the sit-in started, 150 students, staff and faculty gathered in Red Square for a planned Free Speech Rally where speakers from SDS, MEChA, CISPES and the Evergreen Animal Rights Network spoke about the free speech fight at Evergreen and made connections to political repression in the Green Scare, against MEChA in the Southwest and the FMLN.

Shortly after the rally started, SDS's last appeal with the college took place elsewhere on campus. When the rally ended students marched toward Vice President of Student Affairs Art Costantino's office in the Sem 1 building. He was outside of the building instead of in his office. Students confronted him and chanted "Free Speech!" and "Reinstate SDS!". Students attempted to have a discussion with him, but Art refused and walked away. The students then decided to march up the stairs in the Sem 1 building and sit-in outside of his office. Around 60 students started the sit-in.

Students, both SDSers and supporters, have kept a continuous presence outside of Art's office, rotating in shifts where 5 to over 20 students will be there at any given time. Over 100 people have come by so far, including faculty, residents of Olympia, parents with their children, alumnae (including one alum who was involved in an occupation at Evergreen in the past) and Iraq War veterans from Seattle, a Navy veteran from Olympia, and Scott Beiben from Lost Film Fest who showed several films and then held a discussion with the students at the sit-in. People continue to donate food and other needed supplies for the sit-in.

Art and the police have stopped by on several occasions. Students have invited Art to go into his office on numerous occasions but Art has refused every time. The students have engaged Art in several discussions about the status of SDS, free speech, dissent on campus and the fallout of the Valentine's Day uprising. Students also asked Art why he told local law enforcement to investigate the Hip Hop Congress, SDS and prominent port protesters to which he replied he did not do. At one point, Art threatened to have one of the students arrested and also hinted at using police to break up the non-violent sit-in and to have some of the students involved in the sit-in face possible suspension but did not go into specifics.

On Friday, one SDSer involved in the sit-in and who spoke at the Free Speech Rally was shocked to find that she was fired from her job on campus because she was deemed a "security threat" by the Evergreen police where she works at Parking Services. She was notified by Evergreen Chief of Police Ed Sorger of this. Other students who support the sit-in have not been involved with it for fear that they too may loose their jobs.

The sit-in continues into its fourth day and Olympia SDS is not backing down. Operating under its concept of dual power, Olympia SDSers decided to use the space they are occupying to create alternative and liberatory education and space. On Memorial Day, Olympia SDS is calling for the first day of classes to start at the "People's University". In an effort to create an educational environment where liberation and democracy are the primary objective, Olympia SDS will be hosting a series of educational events that will include radical queer theory, a discussion on security culture, a screening of the film "The Take", and a talk on radical labor history given by labor organizers from Seattle. A few concerts will also happen in the coming week and revolutionaries Ed Mead and Mark Cook from the George Jackson Brigade will come to campus on Tuesday for a discussion that the Sabot Infoshoppe, MEChA and CISPES are helping out with.

If anything, this sit-in is turning the theory of participatory democracy into practice. It started off as an action to demand that SDS be reinstated but it's much larger than that.

People are encouraged to come by the sit-in any time they like. People outside of the area are encouraged to call Wendy Freeman, who will make the final decision about the status of SDS next week, to tell her you support SDS and demand the group be reinstated. Feel free to also call Art and Les to complain.

Wendy Freeman
Director of the Career Development Center
360.867.6187
 freemanw@evergreen.edu

Art Costantino
Vice President of Student Affairs
360.867.6296
 costanta@evergreen.edu

Les Purce
President
360.867.6100
 purcel@evergreen.edu


-This was written by Brendan Dunn from Olympia SDS and represents his own views, not the views of the entire group. Pleas email  olympiasds@riseup.net if you have any questions.

Thanks, school administration for help with movement-building 26.May.2008 09:46

anon

I am really very glad to see this revolutionary energy coming out of Evergreen's rather foolish attempt to quell it. I thought that most administrators had learned more subtle and effective ways to kill radical foment in the 60s and 70s--seeing how obvious abridgment of liberty encourages solidarity, action, and movement-growth.

Who knows, maybe there is secretly some administrator secretly friendly to a radicalized campus, community, and movement. [I'm mostly joking]

Bravo, but why? 27.May.2008 01:08

Indignant Student

Bravo for your battles to ensure freedom of political dissent and discourse. But please explain, for the sake of clarification, why a group like SDS (radical in the 60's, but comparatively more conservative today) is trying to become an official "student group"? The brief lived Portland State SDS was an official "student group" on campus, for the sole reason of receiving financial support from the university. Being funded and recognized by the university limits your actions as a radical group. Forget about that. You can survive on and around campus without official institutional recognition. Throw a fucking monkey wrench into that community! Don't waste your time battling the administration trying to get them to accept you as legitimate.