All posts by Elliot Dordick

Students at Claremont Colleges Refuse to Live with White People

A group of students at the Claremont Colleges are in search of a roommate for next year, but insist that the roommate not be white. Karé Ureña (PZ ’18) posted on Facebook that non-white students in need of housing arrangements should reach out to either her or two other students with whom she plans to live in an off-campus house. The post states that “POC [people of color] only” will be considered for this living opportunity. “I don’t want to live with any white folks,” Ureña added.

Dalia Zada (PZ ’18) expressed concerns to the anti-white discrimination. “‘POC only?’ Maybe I’m missing something or misunderstanding your post, but how is that not a racist thing to say?”

“This is directed to protect POC, not white people. Don’t see how this is racist at all…” responded AJ León (PZ ’18). Sara Roschdi (PZ ’17), a Pitzer Latino Student Union member, stated, “People of color are allowed to create safe POC only spaces. It is not reverse racism or discriminatory, it is self preservation.”

“We don’t want to have to tiptoe around fragile white feelings in a space where we just want to relax and be comfortable,” commented Nina Lee, a Women’s Studies major. “I could live with white people, but I would be far more comfortable living with other poc.”

“White people always mad when they don’t feel included but at the end of the day y’all are damaging asf [as f*ck] and if a POC feels they need to protect themselves from that toxic environment THEY CAN! Quick to try to jump on a POC but you won’t call your friends out when they’re being racist asf,” noted Terriyonna Smith (PZ ’18), an Africana Studies major and Resident Assistant (RA) for the 2016-2017 year. “I’m not responding to NO comments and NOPE I don’t wanna have a dialogue.” It is not clear whether or not this refusal of dialogue represents the approaches to conversation on racism with fellow students encouraged by professors of Africana Studies or the Residence Life staff at Pitzer College.

Another Resident Assistant and Black Student Union member, Jessica Saint-Fleur (PZ ’18) added to the thread of comments, “White people have cause [sic] so much mf [motherf*cking] trauma on these campuses … why in the world would I want to live with that? Bring that into my home? A place that is supposed to be safe for me?”

The Mission and Values section of Pitzer College’s website states, “Intercultural Understanding enables Pitzer students to comprehend issues and events from cultural lenses beyond their own,” and adds that “[Pitzer College] supports the thoughtful exchange of ideas to increase understanding and awareness, and to work across difference without intimidation. We have the right to be heard and the responsibility to listen. Communication, even at its most vigorous, should be respectful and without intent to harm.”

Edit: An earlier version of this story stated that AJ León was a member of the Pitzer College Latino Student Union.

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Image: Flickr

Pitzer College Offers Full Scholarship for ‘Undocumented’ Students

In 2012, just months after American college student-loan debt ballooned to over one trillion dollars, Pitzer College began offering a scholarship specifically for illegal immigrants from Latin American countries. “We, every single year, offer one full-ride scholarship to an undocumented student who resides [illegally] in California… It’s called the Arnaldo Rodriguez scholarship, and all of the information can be found on our website,” Pitzer College admissions counselor JR Ramsey told the Independent. The school’s website states, “Pitzer College established the Arnaldo Rodriguez Scholarship in honor of the college’s former Vice President of Admission and Financial Aid” because of an experience Rodriguez had “meeting a high school student who was at the top of her class and had lived in the US all her life but didn’t qualify for any financial aid due to her undocumented status.”

The Pitzer College website states, “the need-based, four-year scholarship is awarded to top-performing students of Latin American descent who attended high school in California and are not citizens or permanent residents of the United States.” These students also must fit a certain ethnic profile. “For people of full European descent, unfortunately [the scholarship] doesn’t apply,” Ramsey said. It follows from this that African and Asian students, too, are unqualified for the award, but Ramsey did remark “if you’re part-Latino, you’re fine” and “if you’re in DACA categorization, that still counts.”

The scholarship covers the costs of full-time tuition, student activities fees, housing, school-provided medical insurance and a meal plan. In total, this sums up to around $70,000 per year—more than a quarter of a million dollars over the course of an undergraduate education. The largest and only merit-based scholarship given by Pitzer, the Trustee Merit Scholarship, offers $5,000 per academic year—a tiny fraction of the amount given to undocumented immigrants—and does not increase with hikes in tuition and student fees as the Rodriguez scholarship does.

Undocumented applicants to Pitzer who do not receive this unique scholarship offer are treated the same as international applicants when considered for standard financial aid. “If your high school counselor is willing to put in a good word for you” in order to help an applicant receive this special scholarship, Ramsey stated, “they can shoot an email to Santiago Ybarra, the director of our office. It’s perfectly fine for them to reach out and talk about all the things you do in the community, the things you do in school, and why they think you’d be a great applicant not only for Pitzer, but also for what is embodied by that scholarship.”

Ramsey noted that few Pitzer students are undocumented. “We only have the flexibility to offer one scholarship [per year] through that fund,” he said, “but I will go ahead and insert a little plug for Pitzer while I’m on the phone with you and say even outside of the admission process, I think [undocumented students] find a lot of support here at Pitzer. The culture of our campus here helps students of that categorization thrive academically.”

Safe Space Shut Down After Anti-White, Anti-Male Statements Leaked

Recently, the Independent obtained screenshots from the “5C Women of Color” Facebook group. According to its description, the group—accessible only to its 1,100 approved members—is “for 5C students and alumnae who identify as women of color to reach out and serve as resources/support for one another.” Many of the page’s most popular posts mock those who do not identify as women of color.

In response to her adoptive white father making jokes at her expense, Sarah Weiyun Otterstrom (SC ‘17) posted “I just need to get this out. I hate having white parents so much.” Another student responded by instructing Otterstrom to tell her father that “his pale ass is worthless and the sun doesn’t even like him. Talk about his receding hairline, the fact that he probably looks 20 years older than he actually is, and that he probably has a small penis.”

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Additionally, Namrata Mohan (SC ‘16) stated that her family “ha[s] THE ‘white person voice’ they use when they want to make fun of white Americans.” Later, she continues to justify this “white person voice” by stating that although “it’s soooo lowkey shady,” it’s acceptable to “make fun of white Americans” because “like white people created #colonialism so i’m not mad.”

Rachel Song (PO ‘18), who posted in the group for advice on classes, stated that she was concerned about taking “PSYC141: Leading Entrepreneurial Ventures” because she is “afraid [it] is going to be a class full of white, male business bros.” Lanna Sanchez (PO ‘19) noted that she is “kinda scared to take a politics course in general since this space is typically dominated by white men.” Sanchez added that a class taught by a “conservative POC [person of color] professor” also “raised a red flag.”

Catherine Chiang (SC ‘16)—who was elected by her peers to be the senior class speaker at Scripps College’s commencement ceremony this year and who is an acting intern at the Scripps Communities of Resources and Empowerment program—stated, “asian boys r a social issue,” to which other students responded “esp [especially] the nerdy ones who can just hide in their tech caves” and “they get all angry when it comes to how Asian men are asexualized/emasculated.” Kristine Lee (PO ‘17), a staff member of the Pomona College Asian American Resource Center who sits on the “Production” and “Mental Health” committees there added, “F*ck your masculinity whiny Asian cis bros this is why I only hang out with femmes.”

“As a feminine gay Asian woman,” Kristine Lee told the Independent, “I’m not interested in surrounding myself with the kind of possessive, toxic masculinity exhibited by the type of Asian American men we were discussing in the post.” In response to these discussions, Ji In “Kit” Lee (PO ‘17), another Pomona College Asian American Resource Center staff member, wrote “mehehehe I love this group.”

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Not all students of color agree with the page’s sentiments. Carlos Perrett (PZ ’18), who spoke with the Independent, expressed his disapproval of the statements made on the 5C Women of Color page. “Facebook groups like the 5C Women of Color not only lack inclusion, but also fail to meet their purposes of creating a space of support. Instead these groups have become the perfect outlet for shaming, hostility, and discrimination.” Earlier this year, Claremont saw similar safe spaces intended to be “pro-POC, pro-black, and anti-white supremacist” established with clauses stating that “[w]hile you may want to invite a white friend or ally, to make this a safe and comfortable space for other POC, we ask that you do not.”

After the Independent reached out to members of the 5C Women of Color group for additional comment, the page was shut down. “We found out that screen shots of our interactions were taken by people who work for the Claremont Independent, and they’re geared to write an article,” wrote Kit Lee (PO ’17). “In order to preserve the confidentiality of past conversations and healthy discussions that have occurred in this group,” she continued, “we will shut down the group … to prevent whoever is the mole from leaking more screenshots to the CI.”

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Image Source: Facebook