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Evergreen State College faces $2.1M budget shortfall, cites enrollment drop, issues layoff notices

Administrators at The Evergreen State College have announced that the embattled school faces a massive $2.1 million budget shortfall due in part to a drop in enrollment, and the institution has already handed out some temporary layoff notices as officials grapple with balancing the books.

In an Aug. 28 memo to the campus community titled “Enrollment and Budget Update,” officials report that fall 2017-18 registration is down about 5 percent, from 3,922 students to 3,713. But the problem is nearly all of the students they lost are nonresidents, who traditionally pay a much higher tuition to attend, officials explained in the memo, a copy of which was obtained by The College Fix.

Combined with a shortfall in funding from state coffers to shoulder a mandatory cost-of-living salary increase and a rise in the general cost of operations, and the school must find a way to resolve a $2.1 million shortfall for the fiscal year that began July 1, according to the memo.

“This creates the need for significant budget cuts in the immediate future,” the memo states, adding that the university late last month already handed out temporary layoff notices to 17 facilities staff members.

“Some notices were rescinded as we try to use scarce local dollars to keep people employed,” the memo states. “… However, if the capital budget crisis at the state level continues indefinitely, layoffs will become impossible to avoid.”

“… In a college where 89 percent of the operating budget is in salaries and benefits, it is impossible to reduce the budget by substantial amounts without giving up positions. In anticipation of this, we will soon be announcing a hiring freeze.”

Although the memo does not reference it, the drop in student enrollment can likely be traced back to the national uproar caused after a rowdy group of progressive students took over the school in May and June.

First they cornered white biology Professor Bret Weinstein and shouted him down over his choice not leave campus during a “Day of Absence,” in which white students and employees were asked to stay off campus for the day. The aggressive actions against the professor forced him to hold class off campus at a nearby park.

Next, students accused the university’s administration of racism during a contentious meeting, during which they yelled at and belittled President George Bridges. At this meeting, some white students were told to stand in the back of the room because of the color of their skin. The progressive student protesters also issued a string of demands to combat the alleged racism on campus, most of which the university agreed to implement at an unknown fiscal cost.

The college was also shut for multiple days in early June because of threats it received. Student vigilantes even took to patrolling campus with bats. Later reports about the school revealed that radicalism and anarchy had been pushed at Evergreen State College since at least 2008.

Emails obtained by The College Fix show that some parents pledged to keep their kids away from Evergreen in a development that’s known as the “Mizzou Effect.” The term references the situation at the University of Missouri, which faced severe financial struggles after a student Black Lives Matter protest in 2014 took over the campus and ruined the school’s reputation, prompting a huge decline in enrollment.

But in a somewhat tone deaf part of the Aug. 28 memo from Evergreen, administrators state that “we must continue our efforts to make Evergreen a student-ready college. Our work in equity and inclusion is an important step in this process.”

MOREMizzou enrollment plunge means several dorms closing

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About the Author
Fix Editor
Jennifer Kabbany is editor of The College Fix. She previously worked as a daily newspaper reporter and columnist for a decade in Southern California, and prior to that held editorial positions at The Weekly Standard, Washington Times and FrontPageMagazine. She is also a Robert Novak Journalism Fellowship recipient and has contributed to National Review.

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