Evergreen State College made national news in the spring of 2017, when the campus descended into anarchy because a professor refused to leave campus for a progressive race-based observance.

In the following weeks and months, things got worse. You can read all of our coverage of Evergreen here.

Today, the school is struggling with enrollment.

Abby Spegman reports at the Olympian:

Evergreen sees signs of progress but a long way to go as it looks to stop shrinking

Freshman Wasmine Ghosheh said she noticed it in the dorms.

When the 19-year-old from Sonoma County, California, arrived at The Evergreen State College in September, she met students who were supposed to have roommates but ended up with their own rooms.

“There’s a lot of space — it’s spacious, let’s say,” Ghosheh said the Friday before Thanksgiving break in a nearly empty cafeteria on campus.

Evergreen’s enrollment this fall was 2,854 students, down more than 40 percent from its peak headcount a decade ago. The decline, corresponding with an economic recovery and mirroring a trend in liberal arts enrollment nationally, was compounded by campus unrest two and a half years ago that made national headlines.

There have also been faculty cuts:

The college plans its course offerings with a 22-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio, so as student numbers have fallen, so too have faculty numbers, said David McAvity, Evergreen’s dean for academic budgets. In just two years, the college has cut the equivalent of 34 full-time faculty positions, a 20 percent decrease.

Last school year, the college started offering retirement incentives to some tenured faculty. (Evergreen doesn’t use the term “tenured,” however, instead referring to them as faculty with a continuing contract.) This year, incentives are being offered to all tenured faculty who want to leave or reduce their contracts to part time, McAvity said.

Perhaps as a result of these developments, Evergreen is now supposedly trying to make changes. The question is whether or not it’s too late.

Hannah Furfaro reports at the Seattle Times:

In hopes of ending enrollment woes, The Evergreen State College is overhauling its academic programs

As an undergraduate at The Evergreen State College in the 1970s, John Calambokidis took advantage of the university’s alternative approach.

He spent most of his time working independently or on group projects, and worked under two National Science Foundation grants. After graduating in 1978, he launched a research nonprofit called Cascadia Research.

“I was one of the students who benefited from the high degree of freedom that Evergreen encouraged,” Calambokidis said.

But that flexibility isn’t for everybody — and starting next semester, students will be able to choose from 11 “paths” that give them a clearer road to a career. Choosing a path isn’t required for graduation. But their creation marks a drastic change from the current structure, which gives students leeway to chart their own academic journey through an ever-changing set of courses and programs designed by faculty…

The creation of formalized paths, college officials said, will make Evergreen’s offerings more predictable. Faculty will plan many courses and programs several years in advance so students can more easily map out their schedules.

They probably need stronger changes than these but no one can force the school to change its culture.

It’s difficult to think of a better real-life argument against free college than Evergreen State.

 

 
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