Riot Update: How Hippie Life Immitates Art

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 If you’ve ever seen the movie “Accepted” it’s the story of a bunch of kids who get rejected by every reputable college in the country.  So, they decide to start a school of their own.

The movie stars Justin Long (the # 2 “Hi-I’m-A-Mac” guy from the Apple Computer commercials) and the legendary Lewis Black. It’s actually a reasonably-decent flick.

Yesterday on The Blog we ran a picture of the Valentine’s Day riot at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wa.

Today’s Seattle Times updated the story with a profile on the school and it’s a strange case of Hippie Washington life immitating art.

In the movie, “Accepted” the students decide to come up with a “new way” of learning. There won’t be any grades. In fact the school doesn’t even have majors. Instead, the students are allowed to create their own classes in an atmosphere designed to promote academic freedom and creative individual thought.

Sounds pretty cool, but completely unrealistic right?

Except, check out Evergreen State College’s description of the school in their own university catalog:

 About: The Evergreen State College is a small, state-funded liberal arts college.  It’s unusual in that there are no departments or majors, and students don’t get letter grades. Rather, students…design their own curricula.”

Whoa Dude!! They, like, totally made a real-life college based on a Justin Long movie! That’s so righteous!

But, left to study anything they want exactly what would kids learn?

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Uh, ok. But after paying four years of tuition exactly what type of job does this qualify my child for?

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And the type of faculty you would attract in such an environment wouldn’t be your typical Ivy Leaguers.

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Thumbing through this year’s schedule, though, it sure SEEMS like a real school.  Sure, anytime you have students picking their own curricula you’re bound to have some dopey classes.  For instance, Evergreen State College offers a class that studies Myspace. But, on the whole, most of the stuff is pretty standard college fare.

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Particularly for a school whose official mascot is a geoduc:

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(a geoduc is a giant edible clam that can live over 100 years AS IF you didn’t know)

Still, if I keep flipping through this year’s class schedule for good ole’ EGSC I bet I can find a really good class. And, hey, here we are!  It’s a class that, in retrospect, probably could have benefitted a lot of students. It’s called “The Art of Non-Violent Political Action.” Some of those techniques might have come in handy since Evergreen State College just had the largest school riot in the history of the state. A violent political action in which their students caused hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages, had five of its students arrested on felony charges and according to the school president damaged the institution’s reputation as a “bastian of non violence.”

 Now, I know what you’re thinking. Exactly what kind of an idiot teaches “The Art of Non-Violent Political Action” at a school which is now KNOWN FOR violent political action?

Meet Professor Ariel Goldberger:

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Now, I’m not going to cast aspersions on the fine faculty of The Evergreen State College but you have to ask yourself exactly what are this bozo’s academic qualifications. Just who in the hell is responsible for teaching non-violence to the nation’s most violent students?

I’m oh so glad you asked! In the school’s catalog Goldberger is listed as a professor of “experimental performance and puppet theater.”

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Oops sorry! Not THAT kind of puppet theater.

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THAT kind of puppet theater.

Now, since not one single goddamn person on the face of the earth who reads this post is going to believe me, I’ve linked to the school’s catalog as well as Goldberger’s university provided bio.

 And, unfortunately, Professor Hand Puppet isn’t even the professor that’s the school’s biggest embarrassment. That honor falls to Pete Bohmer.

In today’s Times article, Bohmer urges students not to cooperate with police or university officials in their investigation of the riot because (says Bohmer) we are living in a “police state.”

Finally, police have come up with a reason for last month’s violent student riot. The melee started when police were called to arrest a man who was “smoking weed and groping women.”

Man, that’s how everything in college starts.

(By the way, “smoking weed and groping women” is officially worth three credits at Evergreen State.)

Anyway, one sole female officer was sent in response to the complaint. She was soon overwhelmed by the crowd at a student concert when members of the band egged on the students by chanting, “Fuck the Cops! Fuck the Cops.”

(That’s now worth 12 credits at Evergreen State.)

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7 Responses to “Riot Update: How Hippie Life Immitates Art”

  1. GEORGE CLOONEY DUMPED GIRLFRIEND BECAUSE SHE GOT BREAST IMPLANTS « Mike Responts: The Blog Says:

    […] Before hooking up with Clooney, Larson was a waitress at The Palms casino in Las Vegas. She is a Washington who attended Evergreen State College. […]

  2. Cole Jon Roy Doig Says:

    The Evergreen State College offers education based on engagement rather than unnecessary and repetitive testing. One of the highlights of the school is a focus on interdisciplinary education, so as give a more expansive view on topics rather than one narrow angle. Someone like Ariel Goldberger, who teaches puppet theater, uses this technique to actually teach ideas of aesthetics, art administration, mis en scene, grantwriting, creativity, and yes all at the same time, puppetry. Puppetry has been used for thousands of years to offer satire, entertainment, and subversive messages to its audiences that sadly I doubt this blog has ever attempted.

  3. mikeresponts Says:

    Nice hypothetical argument for Puppet U. Unfortunately, the most famous and successful alum this brand of teaching has produced from your school is Sarah Larson. I’d be very interested in the “special skills” she learned at your college.

  4. Kristina Says:

    Notable alumni–you mean like Matt Groening, right? You know, that cartoonist who created The Simpsons and Futurama and is currently making boatloads of money based on cartoons he created while he was the student Editor in Chief of Evergreen’s newspaper, The Cooper Point Journal. Oh, didn’t you know that? Students also run their own newspaper here, AND maintain TESC housing facilities. AND maintain an organic farm. AND (undergraduate students) studying in grant-funded, faculty-run labs. AND running a radio station. AND running their own restaurant to compete with the food monopoly on campus. ((Let me remind you we have less than 5,000 attending here)) All the while, we are working other jobs, going to class, and having to deal with haters like you who read one article, do ten minutes of research and think you’re an expert on Evergreen and student life.

    I’ve never taken a class with Ariel, but I have taken a class with Stephanie Koontz. Maybe you should check her out. Notice we call our faculty here by their first names. That’s because the students and teachers actually talk to each other. I’ve never had to go through an TA, ever. My faculty will network with me.

    I absolutely agree with you that decisions made by the students (and the non-students) involved in the Dead Prez riot were rude, irresponsible and unacceptable. However, these idiots aren’t the only ones who go to Evergreen. As a currently attending student, I can (as well most any other member of the student body) spot these little anti-authority figures from a mile away, and they, by NO MEANS, accurately represent the collective student body. So next time you decide to rag on a school, do your homework.

  5. Ariel Goldberger Says:

    I came across your blog doing a vanity google. I read the irresponsible insults you directed to my qualifications and have to say that you owe me several apologies. First, you call me a bozo, which usually stands for clown and you suggest I am an idiot. Should you have cared to do what I teach my students, which is to do research the topic they are working on in a thorough manner, you would have found out that this “bozo” has plenty of qualifications and more awards at a national level than you list on your site. I guess that would have taken the wind from your sails.

    Second, had you done your research responsibly, you would have also found out that the class you try to spoof was designed as a RESPONSE to the riot. I took upon myself to change the class I had already planned, and took the trouble to offer a class that would help interested students at the college acquire tools for civic engagement, so they would not have to resort to unskilled and irresponsible actions. In a sense, you are criticizing the person who actually did something responsible.Maybe you could have taken it, for what I see, and benefited from it. I guess you probably did not find the reading list, becaus listing it would have undermined your “criticism”, and that is why you did not put it on your blog. It would have completely derailed your ridiculous and fatuous comments.

    Third, just because you have no idea about alternative pedagogies does not mean that they don’t work. Its time to open your mind. Really. Come visit my classroom anytime, and you will find engaged, intelligent, and imaginative people doing things nobody has done before. They are learning to create original work, to take calculated risks, to use cutting edge technology, and have important discussions while having a blast. It is way more than what I see at regular colleges.

    I am proud of my students in a way probably no professor I suspect has ever been of you, that is… if you have attended any institution of learning. I have a personal and effective relationship with them, and they surely leave my class transformed as human beings, ready to engage their society, and having learned how to respect themselves and their ideas.

    It is sooo easy to blast others, rather than look at one’s own shortcoming! I am sorry for you. I, at least, am living my life doing positive things for others. Seeing the stuff you write, and the way you present yourself to the world, I have to say you are broadcasting to all of us, in a rather clear manner, the lack of respect you feel for yourself. At the end of the road, I will look back having offered something of substance and useful to lots of people. When I do that, your blog will mean nothing to me, or to anyone else.

  6. TUV Fireman Says:

    Great site you have here but I was curious about if you knew of any user discussion forums that cover the same topics discussed here? I’d really like to be a part of online community where I can get advice from other knowledgeable individuals that share the same interest. If you have any suggestions, please let me know. Thank you!

  7. Jarntazecht Says:

    *stumbles on this article 3 years later*

    The article is certainly intriguing. As an alumni of Evergreen I know that the college is not without its faults.

    The whole place is a two-sided coin, in all the ways; teachers, students, and curricula. Matt Groenig graduated from Evergreen, although he is the exception to the rule. There are plenty of lazy hippies that go to the school, do nothing, and come out with a degree.

    Half of the time it’s because the students are lazy, other times you get awful professors like Ariel (whom I had the misfortune of taking a class with) who spend less time actually teaching and being useful and more time berating anybody who critiques or questions him. (Hell, it’s hilarious he spent so long writing about how crappy the blogger was only to put “nah I don’t really care”. It’s clear he does!)
    Luckily, not everyone is like that. There are some teachers at the place who are not only very reputable, but spend the better part of their time making sure their students have ample resources and they may even become your best friend later on. In my experience, most notable of which is Kabby Mitchell who is a wonderful man who spoke the language of art so beautifully it didn’t matter to me that I was a visual artist and he was a dancer; he knew what he was doing when it came to expressing yourself creatively. But even then, I got to know many more of the teachers than those I took classes with because the department I worked for talked to almost everybody on a daily basis. There are good and bad professors, therefore increasing the importance of research one needs to do before taking any class. I’ve never taken a class with Stephanie Koontz but I hear she’s a very reputable writer and the few minutes I got to talk to her she seemed like a nice person at least.

    What makes Evergreen worthwhile is that it tries new stuff. There’s nothing more awesome than when you have a truly dedicated student talking to a truly dedicated teacher in a class that will further both parties’ understandings of a subject and life in general that will help them as they grow. Sadly one may only take a couple of those classes out of the 4 years they’re there, because of its crappy class registration system and lack of connections.

    There are lots of ways to go wrong when you have a school that takes out bits of a common curriculum in exchange for supposed creative freedom. This is one of those instances where many people will abuse the system to get easy degrees. But there have been lots of instances in typical colleges where the curriculum is shaped in such a way that a person will not be able to showcase or nurture their talents and simply be labeled a bad student in what is essentially a factory that pumps out math majors. I’m confident that down the line, Evergreen will be able to improve its system that it can more easily highlight students who really want to make something of themselves and go on to do great things in life.

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