Evergreen state students stage sit-in in so-called fight for free speech

Evergreen state students stage sit-in in so-called fight for free speech »Play Video
OLYMPIA, Wash. -- Several Evergreen State College students have been sitting in front of the school's Student Affairs Office since Wednesday, and they appear to have no intention of moving any time soon.

Members of the Students for a Democratic Society say Evergreen has changed ever since the campus riot in February. They claim free speech has been squashed, concerts banned and student records turned over to police.

When the SDS asked to stage a protest in March, the collage asked members to cancel it.

"They said that it was because of safety, but almost all the other events went through. This one had a lot less potential for being unsafe than the ones that did go through," said a student who identified herself as "Courtney."

SDS staged the event anyway, and it's been suspended from using campus facilities ever since.

So when students were denied another event on Wednesday, they took a stand in front of the Student Affairs Office.

The college says SDS was turned down because of its suspension. And in March, it says SDS tried to use campus facilities to raise money for an off-campus group, which is a violation of state law.

"It's been positioned as a free speech issue, but the college hasn't taken a position on the speech or the politics of the individual group," said college relations director Todd Sprague. "It's more about the processes and policies and how those were followed or not followed."

Students say the permits and policies are just another barrier to free speech. So they're sitting, waiting for an apology.

"Until we are fully reinstated, and until students realize they are the ones in charge on this campus, then our job is not done," said student Jonathan Steiner.

The college says there is one more step in this appeal process. That is for the students to choose their own punishment. No matter what they choose, the college says it will not apologize.