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Evergreen State faculty to vote to ban word ‘covenant,’ says term reflects ‘cultural genocide’


Faculty at Evergreen State College are slated to vote on a resolution to ban the word “covenant” from official documents, saying the term reflects “cultural genocide.”

“[T]the word ‘covenant’ represents for many members of the Evergreen community the efforts at cultural genocide of Native Nations through the federal Indian boarding school system,” the motion states.

“… Whereas needlessly using a word that institutionalizes the devastating colonization of Native Peoples is inconsistent with Evergreen’s stated commitment to social justice and to honoring Evergreen’s Nation-to-Nation Agreement with Tribes of Washington … We move that the word ‘covenant’ in the Faculty Handbook and other official Evergreen documents be replaced by the term ‘community agreement.'”

Evergreen Professors Grace Huerta, Jon Davies and Laurie Meeker did not respond to several emails Monday from The College Fix seeking comment. The three professors lead the college’s faculty union, but the motion was not put forth by the union, according to Rich Wood, a spokesperson for the Washington Education Association.

The resolution is being advanced by Evergreen’s faculty forum for academic matters, Wood said via email.

Reached for comment, Evergreen’s spokesperson Allison Anderson also did not provide a statement Monday on whether the resolution, if approved, would prompt administrators to amend official documents.

According to the resolution, faculty suggest the term “covenant” be replaced with “community agreement.” The vote is expected to take place Wednesday.

The proposed motion was first reported on by Benjamin Boyce, a 2017 graduate of Evergreen State College who has extensively covered the controversies surrounding the embattled, Olympia, Wash.-based public university on his popular social media channels.

Boyce told The College Fix on Monday he received a copy of the resolution from a professor at the school.

As for Boyce’s opinion on the matter, he first criticized it on Twitter by pointing out: “The @EvergreenStCol faculty, faced with plummeting enrollment and successive layoffs, have rallied their collective energies to… banish a word because it reminds someone, somewhere, of cultural genocide.”

And on his YouTube page Monday, Boyce dissected the resolution phrase by phrase, calling the proposed motion “virtue signaling” and pointing out the term that faculty should be referencing regarding historic Native American alliances is actually “Covenant Chain.”

UPDATE: On Wednesday, the Evergreen State College faculty did not vote to replace the word “covenant” in their meeting. The motion was withdrawn for further consideration, Evergreen’s spokesperson Allison Anderson told The College Fix via email.

Editor’s note: This article has been updated to correct that the motion is not being put forth by Evergreen’s faculty union. Rich Wood, a spokesperson for the Washington Education Association, emailed The College Fix on Wednesday to say “United Faculty of Evergreen, the union, did not take a position for or against the resolution concerning the word ‘covenant.’ The union is not involved in this issue. It is a matter before the faculty meeting, which is Evergreen’s forum for academic matters. Proposed changes to the Faculty Handbook are reviewed and discussed at the faculty meeting and approved through procedures outlined in the Faculty Handbook.” 

MORE: Black Evergreen professor who yelled at white peers: ‘F*** your civility’ 

MORE: Retrospective on Evergreen fiasco neglects to mention student mob

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About the Author
Fix Editor
Jennifer Kabbany is editor-in-chief of The College Fix.