Evergreen State College Champions Ethical Investment and Student Activism

Pioneering change through student engagement: Evergreen College takes bold steps toward social responsibility and honors Rachel Corrie’s legacy, providing a model for good academic governance.

Evergreen State College Champions Ethical Investment and Student Activism
"Monument to Rachel Corrie" by Mike Alewitz is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/?ref=openverse.

Evergreen State College Takes Bold Action on Social Responsibility

In 2003, a young woman named Rachel Corrie tried to stop a home from being destroyed. She put on a bright florescent vest, grabbed a hand-held megaphone, and stood in front of an armored bulldozer barreling down on the home of her host family. Rachel was in Palestine.

The Israeli military was in the middle of a mass effort to destroy Palestinian homes during this time. The next on their list was that of Samir Nasrallah, a local pharmacist with a wife and children, who were Rachel's hosts while she served as an aid worker in their country.

The Nasrallah children watched as Rachel died.

Later, the Israeli government would make excuse after excuse for Rachel's death. When her parents, Craig and Cindy, tried to appeal to the Israeli courts for justice, their arguments were cast aside. Yesh Din (an Israeli human rights organization), Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and other human rights organizations all criticized Israel for continuing a trend of impunity for its soldiers. Certainly, Corrie's parents never got justice. Neither have most of the Palestinians killed since.

It turns out that Israel's military has a consistent practice of finding ways to justify the killing of civilians. Its public relations arm has, in fact, gotten so good at this as to be mildly terrifying. Any argument against their behavior is either buried in fallacious arguments of privation, or else in ad hominem attacks and accusations of antisemitism.

But justice is finally being done, at least in some small way.

Rachel Corrie was a graduate of Evergreen State College, the first institute of higher education in the United States to take meaningful steps toward divestiture from Israel.

On April 30th, Evergreen State College has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the student-led Evergreen Gaza Solidarity Encampment (GSU).

This initiative, which took effect on April 30, 2024, reflects the college's response to student-driven advocacy for social responsibility—a cause deeply connected to Rachel's legacy.

Now, Corrie's work continues to inspire a new generation of students.

Inspired by Corrie’s advocacy, the college has successfully launched the Investment Policy Disappearing Task Force (DTF) to steer its investments towards socially responsible entities, including a complete divestment from companies implicated in human rights abuses. This move aligns Evergreen's financial decisions with its ethical standards, aiming for full divestment by Spring 2026.

Similarly, the Grant Acceptance Policy DTF will rigorously evaluate grant funding to avoid supporting operations that undermine human rights or suppress freedom of speech. These steps are vital in honoring the kind of global awareness and activism that Rachel Corrie championed throughout her life.

At a time when protests across the country are being met with unprecedented violence from heavily armed police forces, it's good to see at least one institute of higher learning that actually cares what its student population has to say.

Ideally, this will serve as a precedent for how educational institutions engage with complex global issues in the future. I think that's something to hope for. And now, at least, Rachel's parents can see a small change emerge from their daughter's sacrifice.

Hi there! I’m Odin Halvorson, a librarian, independent scholar, film fanatic, fiction author, and tech enthusiast. If you like my work and want to support me, please consider becoming a paid subscriber for as little as $2.50 a month!

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