All posts by Editorial Board

Editorial: The Importance of Free Expression

Free speech on campus has become a growing issue in the US and internationally as traditionally freer countries place more and more restrictions on speech. As students and journalists at the Claremont Colleges, we have seen the negative repercussions of this trend firsthand—in our classrooms, jobs, places of worship, and even in our coffee shops.

It’s sad what this culture has cost the colleges. We live in a community of bright, engaged students, but fear of radical left wing retribution too often stifles conversations before they start. We are fortunate to study under great professors but, going forward, the quality of many of our tenured faculty will be subject to how well a given professor fits into the Social Justice Warrior mold. Even our peers’ charitable efforts fall prey to the expanding reach of political correctness.

It’s our job as students to shape the community here on campus, but the administration has the power to set the tone and step in when our peers or teachers abuse their power. Too often, our administrations are compliant or even complicit in the destruction of our community’s cohesion and intellectual growth.

Yet last Thursday, President Chodosh and Dean Uvin stood up in favor of our rights in an email released to Claremont McKenna College’s student body and alumni. The email outlined the administration’s commitment to protecting free speech on campus, both inside and outside the classroom. By defending students’ and faculty members’ right to think and speak freely, Claremont McKenna College’s administration has made an important pivot away from the increasingly sensitive culture of censorship and toward a more positive academic community. This will serve students well both in Claremont and outside the bubble.

CMC’s announcement is a strong first step, and we’re hopeful that the administration will take this policy seriously in order to provide students with a well-rounded intellectual environment. We now call on the administrations at Pitzer College, Scripps College, Pomona College, and Harvey Mudd College to adopt the University of Chicago’s policies on speech as well. The Claremont Colleges have a great capacity to influence the world around us, but that can’t happen unless we are allowed to grow as thinkers and as people. We cannot overstate the importance of free expression on campus. Without it, education is impossible.

Steven Glick, Editor-in-Chief

Megan Keller, Publisher

Daniel Ludlam, Managing Editor

Editorial: We Tell the Truth When No One Else Will

A recent editorial in The Student Life (TSL) criticized a Claremont Independent article because they thought it opted “for sensationalism over accuracy and impartiality.” Our article’s title pretty much summed up the story: “Black Women Protest Campus Party Because Non-Black Women Are Invited.” TSL notes that the event “attracted controversy due to confusion over whether the even [sic] was open to all women of color or only black women.” In other words, there was no inaccuracy or bias in the Independent’s version of the story. And yet, TSL claims our article “demonstrates no effort to understand the underlying issues behind the controversy or the opinions of the community members affected.” The reality is that we build our news stories from quotes, and allow our sources to tell the story as accurately and impartially as possible rather than trying to provide our own commentary or insight. Simply put, our style of reporting lets the facts speak for themselves. Unfortunately for our radically liberal peers, the facts consistently reveal some serious problems on our campuses.

Anyone who has followed the Independent this year knows that we go to school at one of the most racist and bigoted places in America—but not in the way progressives would like you to think. On multiple occasions, white students (and recently, even non-black students of color) have been excluded from on-campus events solely based on their race. Conservative students of color are bullied because progressive groupthink leads minority students to view any political dissidents as traitors or sellouts to their race. What’s more, this bullying is widely viewed as acceptable by the same progressives who think that any viewpoints aside from their own are offensive. All the lessons on racial equality and acceptance that progressive students supposedly abide by are thrown out the window when dealing with “shady people of color,” a fancy name for nonwhite students who hold different opinions than they do. Pitzer College’s recently appointed Communications Secretary called for a ban on the Claremont Independent and asked, “Why not ban Steven Glick from even writing all together [sic],” whatever that’s supposed to mean. It’s no surprise that students act in this manner, since administrators openly endorse this sort of behavior. Yet, if you listen to the rhetoric coming from most students at the 5Cs, you’d have the story backwards and believe that white conservative students are the ones perpetuating racism against students of color on campus.

The reason our stories are so much more successful than those of any other 5C publication is that we are the only paper that actually reports on what life is like in Claremont. Rather than pushing some speculative narrative about how upper-middle class, white, cisgender STEM majors are trying to oppress or silence their fellow students, we report on direct actions taken by student government officials, professors, and administrators to punish those who do not agree with them. We report on issues that the TSL staff doesn’t consider newsworthy, and most of the time they are the ones who feel compelled to respond to us.

Many of our detractors complain about our use of social media and emails to the student body to obtain information, but the information presented in those outlets is exactly what makes our stories so accurate. People are more honest when they don’t think anyone is listening, and the message someone sends to a large audience (such as all students at Pitzer College) always provides a better picture of the ideas they wish to project than a quote given to a single writer representing the Independent.

The Independent serves many purposes on our campuses: we provide a place for students to express right-leaning or alternative opinions, we inspire dialogue regarding controversial events, and we keep students informed about all of the events TSL is too politically correct to write about. But perhaps most importantly, we let the rest of the world know what is happening in Claremont. National media outlets routinely pick up our articles because of the fact that we share the most interesting stories. Every article we write provides clear evidence exposing our peers for what they are: censorious, bigoted, oversensitive bullies. And the country is taking notice.

 

Steven Glick, Editor-in-Chief

Taylor Schmitt, Publisher

Jose Ruiz, Managing Editor

We Dissent

The student protests that have swept through Claremont McKenna College (CMC) over the past few days—and the ensuing fallout—have made us disappointed in many of those involved.

First, former Dean Mary Spellman. We are sorry that your career had to end this way, as the email in contention was a clear case of good intentions being overlooked because of poor phrasing. However, we are disappointed in you as well. We are disappointed that you allowed a group of angry students to bully you into resignation. We are disappointed that you taught Claremont students that reacting with emotion and anger will force the administration to act. We are disappointed that when two students chose to go on a hunger strike until you resigned, you didn’t simply say, “so what?” If they want to starve themselves, that’s fine—you don’t owe them your job. We are disappointed that you and President Chodosh put up with students yelling and swearing at you for an hour. You could have made this a productive dialogue, but instead you humored the students and allowed them to get caught up in the furor.

Above all, we are disappointed that you and President Chodosh weren’t brave enough to come to the defense of a student who was told she was “derailing” because her opinions regarding racism didn’t align with those of the mob around her. Nor were you brave enough to point out that these protesters were perfectly happy to use this student to further their own agenda, but turned on her as soon as they realized she wasn’t supporting their narrative. These protesters were asking you to protect your students, but you didn’t even defend the one who needed to be protected right in front of you.

Second, President Chodosh. We were disappointed to see you idly stand by and watch students berate, curse at, and attack Dean Spellman for being a “racist.” For someone who preaches about “leadership” and “personal and social responsibility,” your actions are particularly disappointing. You let your colleague, someone who has been helping your administration for the past three years and the college for six years, be publicly mocked and humiliated. Why? Because you were afraid. You were afraid that students would also mock and humiliate you if you defended Dean Spellman, so you let her be thrown under the bus. You were so afraid that it only took you five minutes to flip-flop on their demand for a temporary “safe space” on campus. Your fear-driven action (or lack thereof) only further reinforced the fear among the student body to speak out against this movement. We needed your leadership more than ever this week, and you failed us miserably.

Third, ASCMC President Will Su. As the representative of CMC’s entire student body, we are disappointed in you for the manner in which you called for the resignation of junior class president Kris Brackmann and for so quickly caving in to the demands of a few students without consulting the student body as a whole. If you truly cared about representing all of CMC’s interests, you would have at the very least solicited opinions from outside of the movement and your Executive Board. You have shut down any room for debate among the student body with your full endorsement of this movement and its demands, failing to give concerned students an opportunity to speak. We are disappointed that you did not allow for any time for reflection before making your quick executive decisions to announce a student-wide endorsement of this movement and to grant these students a temporary “safe space” in the ASCMC offices.

To our fellow Claremont students, we are disappointed in you as well. We are ashamed of you for trying to end someone’s career over a poorly worded email. This is not a political statement—this is a person’s livelihood that you so carelessly sought to destroy. We are disappointed that you chose to scream and swear at your administrators. That is not how adults solve problems, and your behavior reflects poorly on all of us here in Claremont. This is not who we are and this is not how we conduct ourselves, but this is the image of us that has now reached the national stage.

We are disappointed in your demands. If you want to take a class in “ethnic, racial, and sexuality theory,” feel free to take one, but don’t force such an ideologically driven course on all CMC students. If the dearth of such courses at CMC bothers you, maybe you should have chosen a different school. If students chose to attend Caltech and then complained about the lack of literature classes, that’s on them. And though it wouldn’t hurt to have a more diverse faculty, the demand that CMC increase the number of minority faculty members either rests on the assumption that CMC has a history of discriminating against qualified professors of color, or, more realistically, it advocates for the hiring of less qualified faculty based simply on the fact that they belong to marginalized groups. A hiring practice of this sort would not benefit any CMC students, yourselves included.

We are disappointed in the fact that your movement has successfully managed to convince its members that anyone who dissents does so not for intelligent reasons, but due to moral failure or maliciousness. We are disappointed that you’ve used phrases like “silence is violence” to not only demonize those who oppose you, but all who are not actively supporting you. We are most disappointed, however, in the rhetoric surrounding “safe spaces.” College is the last place that should be a safe space. We come here to learn about views that differ from our own, and if we aren’t made to feel uncomfortable by these ideas, then perhaps we aren’t venturing far enough outside of our comfort zone. We would be doing ourselves a disservice to ignore viewpoints solely on the grounds that they may make us uncomfortable, and we would not be preparing ourselves to cope well with adversity in the future. Dealing with ideas that make us uncomfortable is an important part of growing as students and as people, and your ideas will inhibit opportunities for that growth.

We are adults, and we need to be mature enough to take ownership of and responsibility for our feelings, rather than demanding that those around us cater to our individual needs. The hypocrisy of advocating for “safe spaces” while creating an incredibly unsafe space for President Chodosh, former Dean Spellman, the student who was “derailing,” and the news media representatives who were verbally abused unfortunately seemed to soar over many of your heads.

Lastly, we are disappointed in students like ourselves, who were scared into silence. We are not racist for having different opinions. We are not immoral because we don’t buy the flawed rhetoric of a spiteful movement. We are not evil because we don’t want this movement to tear across our campuses completely unchecked.

We are no longer afraid to be voices of dissent.

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Hannah Oh, Editor-in-Chief

Steven Glick, Publisher

Taylor Schmitt, Managing Editor

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Image: CMC Forum