Where We're Going
The sit in on the 4th floor of Sem 1 continues. We are still keeping our initial demand that Olympia SDS be reinstated and have recently added the additional demands that Kelly Beckham be offered her job back as well as compensation for time lost, and a change in the process by which student groups lose their RSO (Registered Student Organization) status that is determined by those most affected, the students and members of these organizations. To some, this sit-in may appear to be too focused on SDS, but the intention of the sit-in has always been and continues to be bigger than the status of one student group. Since the beginning of the free speech fight, SDS has always stated that our priority is to increase student power and the sit-in has created a space for new and more people to get involved in fighting for social justice. This is more than just SDS.
In thinking about the above demands, the participants in the sit-in started talking about a vision that includes this notion of building student power at our college. This vision is a guide for our action and for our practice. We approach this vision with the realization that our task is complex and is going to take time and hard work. These aren't things that are going to happen overnight, but will hopefully happen slowly, over time, and in a way that gets people's needs met while also challenging the power structures that oppress us all and providing meaningful alternatives to these structures. This means we are building the world we want to see in the here and now, in ways that push boundaries and get to the root of the problems we see facing us. As students, we are all part of this process and because of this, want to see a democratization of our college with those who are most affected having the most say in the decisions that get made here. Students and staff (including faculty) should have a priority in the determination of policies at our college. Included in this is getting back to the values Evergreen was founded on.
We want an end to the "mainstreaming" of our school and respect for the autonomy of every individual, both students and staff. Part of this is actively combatting oppression at Evergreen. We want to do more than just pay lip service to anti-oppression - we want to work towards a trajectory of collective liberation, recognizing that all forms of struggle are connected and are dependent on one another. Integral to this is an end to the segregation of our college amongst the different campuses and programs. Most importantly, we want to make the college more accessible and relevant to people by decreasing the cost of tuition, by expanding services including child care, housing and health care and by ensuring funding for all kinds of programs at Evergreen. We would also like to see a radical commitment to environmental sustainability at our college by creating self-sufficiency and recognizing that environmental problems are complex and require us to get to the root of the problem in order to successfully solve them. To do this, we're going to have to change the profit-driven system we currently have and replace it with one that is tied to human needs and ecological balance. We also seek to find alternatives to the structures that reinforce violence, racism and other forms of oppression at this college. A large component of this is the police. Eventually, we want a college free of police, where we can work together to find alternatives that don't include institutionalized racism and violence. However, this is a gradual process and would start with getting guns and other weapons including Tasers out of our college, as well as terminating the positions of the most violent and oppressive officers.
The above are just some of the issues those of us at the sit-in have been discussing and therefore is just a starting point in creating a broader vision statement. Because of this, our vision is not static. Instead, we would like to see what is created as a living document, something that is always available for change depending on the needs of those committed to the core principles and to our college in general. Anyone who wants to share our goal of building and increasing student power at The Evergreen State College is encouraged and welcome to work on this vision with us. Stop by the sit-in on the fourth floor of Seminar 1 to give your input!
We would also like to note that this piece, although written by just two sit-in participants could not have been put together without the ideas and input of everyone who has participated in the sit-in thus far, even if just to drop by. Because of the limited authorship, this is not representative of all participants, but instead should be viewed as an effort of clarification regarding what we're doing and why.
Please join us for the 10th day of our sit-in on the 4th floor of Seminar 1!
Brooke Stepp and Brendan Maslauskas Dunn, Sit-in Participants.