Bret Weinstein and Heather Heying settle with Evergreen State for $500K, then resign

As I reported many times this year, biology professors Bret Weinstein and Heather Heying (a married couple) were tormented and demonized by students, faculty, and the administration at The Evergreen State College after Weinstein refused to leave campus along with other white people on the “Day of Absence” in April. There’s not much question about Weinstein and Heying’s progressive credentials, as Bret, at least, has a long history of anti-racist activism. Nevertheless, they were hounded, tormented, and ultimately threatened, with the result that they had to flee Olympia, Washington, leaving their home and putting their cats in the hands of friends.

I also reported in July that Weinstein and Heying were peparing to sue TESC for $3.8 million dollars, filing a preliminary legal form that asserted the following:

. . . . Evergreen State College created “a racially hostile and retaliatory work environment,” and adds that “Through a series of decisions made at the highest levels, including to officially support a day of racial segregation, the College has refused to protect its employees from repeated provocative and corrosive verbal and written hostility based on race, as well as threats of physical violence.”

Now, as reported by both the local newspaper The Olympian and The Chronicle of Higher Education, Weinstein and Heying have settled with TESC for a sum of $500,000: $450,000 in damages and $50,000 toward the couple’s legal expenses. On Friday, both resigned from the College. That was inevitable; there was no way either could continue working there.  According to The Olympian, these were the terms of the settlement:

In an email to faculty and staff sent Friday about 6:40 p.m., Evergreen officials wrote that the college will pay $450,000 to the couple and $50,000 toward the couple’s attorney fees.

“In making this agreement, the college admits no liability, and rejects the allegations made in the tort claim. The educational activities of Day of Absence/Day of Presence were not discriminatory. The college took reasonable and appropriate steps to engage with protesters during spring quarter, de-escalate conflict, and keep the campus safe,” according to the email.

In a statement, Evergreen spokesman Zach Powers said the settlement was in the college’s best interest.

“Years of expensive litigation would drain resources and distract from our mission to provide an outstanding education at reasonable cost to the veterans, first-generation college students, creative thinkers and future leaders who study at Evergreen,” he said.

There was no winner in this battle, but there was a definite loser: Evergreen State. Their reputation is tarnished, they’ve lost two professors who were highly regarded, and I’m predicting that, despite their huge acceptance rate (98.9%!), enrollment will drop. I’m betting that parents who have heard of this college won’t want their kids going there, and having seen the shenanigans of the entitled students, of the thoroughly Regressive-Left faculty, and of the Invertebrate College President, George “Please Let me Pee” Bridges.

But I don’t think the settlement was enough. Both may get other jobs, but $500,000 is only about two years of income for a pair of professors at TESC, and some of the College’s bad behavior, like student harassment of Weinstein and Bridges’s calling the police to “stand down”, is unquestionable. But I’m not party to how these lawsuits get negotiated, so I wish Bret and Heather the best of luck, hope they find a good way to use their skills, and hope that they realize that they dodged a bullet. As for the College and its President, I consign them to perdition. In fact, as far as I can see, working or studying on the campus is already the equivalent of one circle of Hell.

Oh, and I hope their cats are all right.

40 Comments

  1. Mark R.
    Posted September 17, 2017 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    Though the settlement amount is substantially lower than what they were asking, I still think this is good news. At least it sets a precedent and hopefully other colleges/universities will take note and learn from Evergreen’s many mistakes.

  2. rickflick
    Posted September 17, 2017 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

    Optimistically, the settlement may be just the overt resolution. I think/hope that over time the school, administrators and eventually the students will reevaluate and learn from this experience and develop attitudes and policies better adapted to reality.

  3. Craw
    Posted September 17, 2017 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

    There are only three professors at TESC who should keep their jobs, and two already haven’t.

  4. GBJames
    Posted September 17, 2017 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

    IMO Evergreen got off lightly. Their denial of the allegations doesn’t point to much learning on their part. Unless it is all behind closed doors. The fate of the responsible officials over time will tell the tale, I suppose.

    • Travis
      Posted September 17, 2017 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

      Isn’t the denial of wrongdoing just part of the settlement process?

      “We’ll say we didn’t do anything wrong, you’ll go away and we’ll pay you to do so.”

      I’m by no means a legal expert but that’s what I figure this is about.

      Anyway, like others I think this (as well as their lower budget this year which has already lead to some layoffs – this news is a few weeks old iirc) will lead to some reevaluation of what their goals are.

      • GBJames
        Posted September 17, 2017 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

        I don’t see how it would be a necessary part of a settlement. In any case, we’ll see what the fate of the officials responsible is. That will tell whether or not the institution has learned anything.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted September 17, 2017 at 11:33 pm | Permalink

          It might not be a legally essential part of any settlement but it is very common, probably in a majority of cases. Neither side admits liability.

          To me $500,000 seems like quite a lot, and implies an admission that the college knew they were going to lose. But IANAL.

          cr

  5. mordacious1
    Posted September 17, 2017 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    I wish that these professors had the resources to take this lawsuit to the end. I would love to have seen this adjudicated in a court of law. Where Evergreen’s dirty laundry could be aired before the public and a judge could rule on the university’s behavior. But I’m sure that they did not have the ability to wait four or five years for a judgment. You have to feed the kids or they put you in jail.

    • somer
      Posted September 17, 2017 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

      +1 $500,000 is nowhere near enough but they had little choice. Im sceptical that it will motivate Evergreen to learn anything from this. Also by Australian standards, Weinstein and Heying were paid very little even before they were driven from this campus.

  6. Randy schenck
    Posted September 17, 2017 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    It is too bad they had to settle for this amount but that is nearly always the case in these things. If you had the money necessary to pursue to the end, you would not have been there in the first place. I have been through some lousy legal things in the past few years and the only good thing about them is when they are over. Let’s hope these people can move on to better places and do well. Waiting for this school to admit to wrong doing is about like waiting for Trump to admit he is a racist.

  7. Posted September 17, 2017 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

    I hope the Weinsteins get good appointments at an institution that values learning over social justice posturing.

    • Posted September 17, 2017 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

      Weinstein and Heying, I mean.

      • Norbert Francis
        Posted September 17, 2017 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

        Good for them. They didn’t get what they deserve and the college got off easy. Good for them for standing up to the postmodern madness at their campus. More professors have to grow the spine that they showed us. More academics have to speak out, because the lessons of this witch hunt have not been learned. We’re in trouble because I don’t see an end to this yet.

  8. BJ
    Posted September 17, 2017 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

    “There’s not much question about Weinstein and Heying’s progressive credentials, as Bret, at least, has a long history of anti-racist activism.”

    Even if they were conservatives, nobody teaching at a school deserves the kind of treatment Bret and Heather received, and it would still be the case that the school needed to protect them once students started explicitly breaking school rules, as well as committing clear harassment, intimidation, and threats. Liberal and conservative, nobody should suffer that kind of treatment, especially in the workplace while their employer stands by purposefully doing nothing to stop it.

    What pisses me off most is this part of the settlement: “The college took reasonable and appropriate steps to engage with protesters during spring quarter, de-escalate conflict, and keep the campus safe.” Evergreen shouldn’t be able to go on explicitly lying about what they did here, but they will get to regardless. The school did the exact opposite of that statement.

    I like George Bridges’ new nickname, though. Good one, Jerry.

    • ploubere
      Posted September 17, 2017 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

      Good points.

    • Diane G.
      Posted September 17, 2017 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

      Yes, good point. But of course, Jerry’s point about them (TESC) eating their own young is a point in itself.

      • BJ
        Posted September 17, 2017 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

        Oh, absolutely. Just thought it was an important thing to say.

  9. Chris Swart
    Posted September 17, 2017 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

    The money won’t last them forever, but who in their right mind would want to fight this battle for years? Take the money and run.

    • Craw
      Posted September 17, 2017 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

      Yep.
      The legal system really isn’t as good at things like this as it should be. I think this is a worst-case outcome. TESC will survive, it will not adapt except to screen new hires to weed out those with courage and principles. The couple doesn’t get enough. No member of the administration can be touched on the basis of this after the lying words in the deal.
      But I cannot blame them for taking the money and just having it over.

    • Diane G.
      Posted September 17, 2017 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

      “The money won’t last them forever..”

      Especially while they have no income, moving expenses, probably travel for interviews at other institutions, etc. (Assuming they find other decent positions available. Universities are big on hiring “adjunct” faculty, now, by which they mean, “cheap.”).

      • biz
        Posted September 18, 2017 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

        I agree the amount is too small for the malice and the damage done, but FYI the institutions where they interview will cover those travel costs, and if they get positions, will cover their moving expenses.

        The problem they face is that they have an academic “two body” problem where they both need faculty jobs and the chances of an institution happening to have two openings in each of their two specialties and deciding on these two particular candidates for each position is low. Also they have already run afoul of certain ideological factions which will not help them.

        • Diane G.
          Posted September 19, 2017 at 3:50 am | Permalink

          Yes, you’re right on both counts, of course.

  10. eric
    Posted September 17, 2017 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

    I’m predicting that, despite their huge acceptance rate (98.9%!), enrollment will drop.

    There’s a branding opportunity here.

    “Evergreen…filled with so many “safe spaces”, it’s your guaranteed “safe school”!

    “Evergreen; rejecting the colonialist concept of competency since 2017!”

  11. chewy
    Posted September 17, 2017 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

    Usually you shut up when a settlement is reached — hence the word “settlement”. You don’t keep harping on the nonsense that got you in trouble in the first place. You say that you “don’t admit the claims” and then move on. These weasels are incapable of learning or recognizing their failures and the absurdity of their “college”. I considered Evergreen (only on a very long list” for my daughter a couple decades ago. Now they have ceased to be a college, so we can ignore them from here on.

  12. biz
    Posted September 17, 2017 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

    This is disappointing. The college admits no wrongdoing and there is no discovery. As someone else mentioned, the only thing that Evergreen, and for that matter likeminded university administrations elsewhere, will take away from this is that they will need to screen harder in the future against hiring faculty who may engage in independent thought.

  13. dabertini
    Posted September 17, 2017 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

    All the best to Bret and Heather. They deserve so much more. I just hope they get new positions where they will get the respect they so richly deserve.

  14. Harrison
    Posted September 17, 2017 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

    Settlement is a terrible outcome for many reasons other than simply that Evergreen and their proponents get to crow. Settlements almost always entail sealing case files away from the public record. Important information about what was actually going on behind closed doors at Evergreen will now never see the light of day.

    • rickflick
      Posted September 17, 2017 at 8:42 pm | Permalink

      I see your point, but, on the other hand, the public record is certainly adequate to allow an intelligent reader to figure out what went wrong at Evergreen. As things evolve away from the current panic over free speech, the public speeches, news releases, and analysis will make it obvious what happened and why. Internal memos would be nice, but far from necessary.

  15. Posted September 17, 2017 at 9:20 pm | Permalink

    At the end of the day, Weinstein and Heying need to do what’s best for them. Weinstein exhibited great personal courage while risking his career and potentially physical safety, in standing up to the fascism and racism and general lunacy.

    It devolves to the board of trustees to drain the festering swamp that is Evergreen. The state legislature should also defund.

    • Posted September 17, 2017 at 9:22 pm | Permalink

      He did so with exceptional poise, sangfroid, and cogency, I must add.

      • yazikus
        Posted September 18, 2017 at 9:23 am | Permalink

        He is certainly eloquent and a fine communicator. I think the Youtube/Patreon model will work well for him.

  16. yazikus
    Posted September 18, 2017 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    after Weinstein refused to leave campus along with other white people on the “Day of Absence” in April.

    This is not the most accurate description of what precipitated all these events, regardless of what Tucker Carlson would have one believe.

    • Norbert Francis
      Posted September 18, 2017 at 9:54 am | Permalink

      For the description of what happened at Evergreen, related to the so-called “Day of Absence,” we start with how professor Weinstein described what happened. Don’t get distracted by how Tucker Carlson decides to portray it.

      • yazikus
        Posted September 18, 2017 at 10:00 am | Permalink

        One could start with Weinstein’s public statements, or they could start back at the beginning. The emails are all available on the web, and it isn’t hard to catch up on the whole ordeal. His framing of it is at worst deliberately dishonest, and at best misleading. (He meaning Weinstein).

        • Norbert Francis
          Posted September 18, 2017 at 11:24 am | Permalink

          Given the importance of this issue, you should say what in your opinion was “deliberately dishonest” or “misleading” about Weinstein’s account of the events. We start with Weinstein’s account, and then there is all the evidence of witch hunt and defamation that is now public record.

          • yazikus
            Posted September 18, 2017 at 11:52 am | Permalink

            His framing of the Day of Absence as mandatory is false. And what ‘witch-hunt’ do you speak of? In all of this, the person portrayed the least-kindly by the media is clearly President Bridges. Weinstein has been hailed a hero pretty much everywhere. He wasn’t fired- he resigned. He got a nice fat check from the college. What ‘defamation’ do you speak of?

            • biz
              Posted September 18, 2017 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

              – “What ‘defamation’ do you speak of?”

              Seriously? Weinstein was slandered as a racist. Mob violence against Weinstein and his family was encouraged on social media platforms by Evergreen students and possibly faculty, to the point where he and his family had to flee the town.

              – “His framing of the Day of Absence as mandatory is false.”

              The Day of Absence was mandatory for all practical purposes. For objecting to it via a cogent e-mail, Weinstein’s class was invaded and he was unable to teach, that day or any subsequent day. That is mandatory like paying mob protection money is mandatory. Sure, it isn’t written explicitly in a contract, but everyone understands who wields what power.

              • Norbert Francis
                Posted September 18, 2017 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

                Fifty faculty members publicly slander Weinstein with the absurd charge of endangering students by supposedly making them targets of “white supremacist backlash.” A professor is insulted as racist by his students and physically intimated. Campus security tells him that for his own safety he should not come to work. What part of this do some people not understand?

              • biz
                Posted September 18, 2017 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

                I think that in most cases they understand it perfectly fine, and are just engaged in deliberate obfuscation. I am pretty sure this is the case with this yazikus individual.

  17. Posted September 19, 2017 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    I understand that Evergreen State is a public university – in which case the people of Washington have almost certainly lost twice more – likely their faculty who will leave, and they will be “on the hook” for the settlement bill.


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