Evergreen State College Divided After Riot
By Nick Perry
The Evergreen State College is known across the country as a liberal, politically active campus where students are ready to challenge authority.
But when a riot broke out here three weeks ago in which a police cruiser was overturned and trashed, the mood changed. The campus has found itself divided over who is to blame. Already-strained relationships with police have deteriorated. And Evergreen has found itself with a mark against its name that may be difficult to erase.
On Wednesday, Thurston County sheriff's deputies arrested five suspected rioters on felony charges and were holding them overnight pending a hearing today. Four of them are Evergreen students, including two women who play college soccer and one man who plays baseball. The sheriff's office said it expects at least a dozen people will face felony charges by the time the investigation is complete.
The riot was the first in Evergreen's 37-year history and came as a shock to alumni, students and faculty, many of whom consider the close-knit school a bastion of peace. Students even agree to a "social contract" when they attend, which emphasizes intellectual freedom — as well as civility and respect for others.
Some Evergreen students have been at odds with Olympia police since last November, when dozens of people were arrested at the Port of Olympia during protests against military shipments to Iraq.