After months of being harassed online, an Evergreen State College employee who proposed a controversial change to the school’s annual “Day of Absence/Day of Presence” has resigned.
Rashida Love, director of the First People’s Multicultural Advising Services program, stepped down from her post, university spokesman Zach Powers confirmed to The Olympian Friday, Nov. 24. Love is the fifth high–profile employee to resign from the small liberal arts college in Washington amid campus unrest and allegations of institutional racism.
Evergreen was thrust into the spotlight last spring after a series of heated emails between Love and former faculty member Bret Weinstein over the Day of Absence/Day of Presence activities surfaced online. Each year, about 200 of the school’s 4,800 students, faculty and staff take part in the event, in which non-white students typically spend a day off campus to engage in other programs and discussions.
Love proposed a switch to the tradition, however, asking that white students who chose to participate remain off campus instead, as a show of “solidarity” with the minority students. Her idea wasn’t well received by Weinstein, however, who denounced the flip as “an act of oppression in and of itself.”
“You may take this letter as a formal protest of this year’s structure, and you may assume that I will be on campus on the Day of Absence,” the biology professor said in response to Love’s email. “I’d encourage others to put phenotype aside and reject this new formulation, whether they’ve ‘registered’ for it already or not. On a college campus, one’s right to speak or to be, must never be based on skin color.”
Weinstein’s response further fueled racial tensions on the campus and sparked intense student protests calling for his termination. The university was even shuttered for three days after a “direct threat” to students on campus.
“Our country is going through some growing pains right now, and race and equity are at the forefront, unfortunately,” Love told Seattle newspaper, The Stranger back in June. “I think all of that plays into how things have happened on our campus.”
Love served in the student affairs program at Evergreen for nearly nine years, according to The Olympian. Faculty members say she and fellow employee Naima Lowe were threatened and harassed online during and after the heated protests. Both women were on personal leave at the start of the school year, the newspaper reported.
Love joins four others who left the college amid campus unrest, including Weinstein and his wife, who agreed to resign from their faculty positions for $450,000; Evergreen’s chief of Police Services, Stacy Brown; and former women’s basketball coach Jennifer Schooler.