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Historically, media coverage on race did not matter unless it was negative or destructive.
The “polarized campus” is a decidedly liberal arts college located in Olympia, Washington, where close to 60 percent of its residents vote Democratic. Evergreen State College is a racially diverse institution The events at Evergreen State University and the resulting media coverage is an example of how the source of media coverage underscores why race matters.
The controversy began with Black students’ accusations of campus police harassment and culminated with what appears to be miscommunication around this year’s observance of the campus-wide Day of Absence. The “Day,” observed since 1970, was an opportunity for students, faculty, and staff to go off-campus to discuss campus race issues. In later years, a “Day of Presence” was added to allow campus-wide discussion with returning Black students.
Media coverage began to influence and drive events at the college. Angry state legislators, citing racism on the campus, vowed to introduce a bill phasing out Evergreen’s funding. They questioned if political correctness influenced the president’s granting student demands—most notably, excusing protesters from homework assignments.