All posts by Elliot Dordick

Scripps College: Nonwhite Students Should Be Paid For Sharing Their Opinions

Scripps College resident assistants (RAs) recently hung two types of signs titled “Emotional Labor 101” across campus. One of the signs, printed on a white background, is titled, “Quick Guide For White Students.” The other poster, printed on black paper, is titled, “Quick Guide For People Of Color And Marginalized Backgrounds.”

Both signs, which are marked with the Scripps College administration’s stamp of approval, define “emotional labor” as “the exertion of energy for the purpose of addressing people’s feelings, educating, making people comfortable, or living up to social ‘expectations.’”  The sign addressing non-white students notes, “Victims of emotional labor can be cornered in the classrooms, on social media, or in social events. If you are constantly having to explain or defend this could be you.” The poster then asks, “What can I do about it?” and states, “First and Foremost: Take care of yourself. Decide if it’s worth your time. The burden does not rest on your shoulders! Remove yourself if possible/necessary. You don’t owe anyone anything at the expense of your mental health. / Second: If you do decide to engage, practice some of these tips to avoid overexertion for the sake of educating: Refer to a friendly Google search of the concept in question; Call in professors and white peers to help educate their peer(s); Charge for your services. If you’ve decided you’re going to do it, at least get paid; Visit your designated [dean of students on campus] to talk about ways to address the mental toll.”

The guide addressed to white students, rather than discussing the ways one can undergo “emotional labor,” asks “How do I know I’m causing someone emotional labor? Ask yourself these questions: Could I have Googled the answer but I chose not to? Do I find myself in a situation where people of color or people from a marginalized group are educating me? What power dynamics are at play? Do I find myself getting defensive? Are people telling me I’m causing them emotional labor?” The message to white students ends by listing options for “What can I do about [causing others emotional labor]?” The poster states that white students should “Be mindful of your place and position. Google it! Seek community of white people who are educating themselves/thinking about social justice issues. Compensate the labor you caused. Educate yourself, take advantage of ethnic studies courses, the internet, and SCORE [Scripps Communities of Resources and Empowerment] . Take ownership for the harm you caused. Do better next time!”

Neither the Scripps College nor the RAs whose email addresses are listed on the posters responded to requests for comment.

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Image: Olivia Wu

Scripps students: “Death to AmeriKKKA,” “F*** white people” is “valued speech”

This week, after Scripps College administrators demanded that the phrases “F*** Zionism”, “F*** white people”, “Death to AmeriKKKa” and others be removed from the chalkboard walls of its student-run Motley Coffeehouse, the café’s student management team is outraged that these messages, which it regards as “valued speech,” are being silenced.

The Motley, which previously made headlines for hosting events that excluded white people from the premises, calls itself “an intersectional, political, and feminist business” with a mission “to foster independent thinking and purposeful change.”   

According to a formal note from Scripps College administrators, the offending phrases violated the College’s Principles of Community, as they were not expressed in an appropriate “time, place, and manner.”  The phrases “may not be written on Scripps College property within a business establishment operated on campus,” though the note also stressed that college officials “are not taking the position that students may not intellectually subscribe to these statements or make them in an appropriate setting.”

In response to the administration’s order, “The Motley Manager Team” wrote and posted the following note on the coffeehouse wall at the center of the dispute:

“We are complying with the college, but we will not do so quietly. We call into question the swiftness with which Scripps College responds to speech that challenges systematically privileged identities, and we challenge the community to think critically about what speech makes them feel uncomfortable versus unsafe. We want the students who wrote these statements to know that their perspectives are valued in this space and that we will continue to resist Scripps’s effort to silence these perspectives in public spaces such as The Motley. / We recognize that erasing this board works to reinforce systems of power and oppression, and therefore we will not let this be where we let the story end. We urge the community to challenge each other and ourselves, and to destroy white supremacy, white privilege, colonialism, fascism, and (neo)liberalism on campus.”

This is not the first time that student speech has sparked controversy on campus. Last March, when the message “#Trump2016” was found scrawled on a whiteboard hanging in the hall of a student dormitory at Scripps College, student body president Minjoo Kim derided the “vandalism” as a “racist” act of “intentional violence” in a public address to the community.

Both the Scripps College administration and the management of the Motley Coffeehouse declined to comment upon request.

College Presidents Spread False Anti-Trump Narrative to Student Body

Earlier this week, presidents of the five Claremont Colleges joined over thirty peer institutions of higher education in denouncing President Trump’s recent executive order, which halts refugee immigration from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen for 90 days. Trump stated of the executive order, “America is a proud nation of immigrants and we will continue to show compassion to those fleeing oppression, but we will do so while protecting our own citizens and border … The seven countries named in the Executive Order are the same countries previously identified by the Obama administration as sources of terror.” However, the presidents’ emails to their respective student bodies described Trump’s policy as a ban on Muslim immigration.

Pomona College President David Oxtoby, for example, described Trump’s orders as “deeply troubling” examples of “xenophobia” and “religious discrimination.” President Oxtoby stated that “these actions tear at the fabric of who we are and what we aspire to be.” Pitzer College President Melvin Oliver went so far as to say that “President Trump has altered the American experience, and with it the vision of hope and unity previously shared by most of us.”

President Oliver’s statement continues, “three executive orders … have upended our policies of openness and welcoming,” claiming that the orders have “the practical effect of creating a religious ban against people of Muslim faith.” Though Trump’s orders would likely affect only around 200 million of over 1.5 billion Muslims worldwide, President Oliver told the Independent that he believes “America is more beautiful because of its inclusiveness, not despite it.” Oliver stated that “xenophobia – whether targeted at one … or 1.5 billion – goes against America’s founding values,” but did not specify why he thinks Trump’s orders amount to a Muslim ban or what about them is xenophobic.

While noting that Pitzer College, Claremont McKenna College, and Pomona College currently enroll zero students from the seven countries named in the executive order, each of the school presidents made lengthy efforts to reiterate the availability of emotional assistance for students who “feel vulnerable.” President Lara Tiedens of Scripps College ended her own note by stating “We are fortunate to have such a strong network of active, informed, and compassionate individuals who are invested in preserving Scripps as a haven for inclusive excellence,” referencing a December statement naming Scripps “a sanctuary center of higher education” which would follow in the footsteps of Pomona College and Pitzer College to refuse compliance with federal law regarding immigration status.

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Image: Flickr

CMC Funds Racially Exclusive Program to Fight Racism

On January 25, Vince Greer – the Assistant Dean of Students for Diversity and Inclusion at Claremont McKenna College (CMC) – distributed the following message to the students, faculty and staff of the college:

“Dear CMC community, The Cultural Influences on Mental Health Center at CMC is offering a FREE 8-week compassionate meditation program for ethnic minority students to learn how to heal from racism- and race-related incidents. Students must identify as an ethnic minority, must have experienced race-related stress, and must have attended one of the Claremont Colleges for at least one semester. If you meet these requirements and are in need of such services, you are eligible to sign up!” [emphasis original.]

Dean Greer’s email continues to state that while Professor Wei-Chin Hwang will head the  healing program, it will be “co-led by two students.” Hwang is a tenured, full-time professor of psychology at Claremont McKenna College with expertise in “Cultural Competency” and “Race & Social Problems.” Greer’s email to the community closes by making clear that the Institutional Review Board (IRB) of Claremont McKenna has approved the program.

Many students have expressed concerns about the racial exclusivity of the program. Shawn McFall, (CMC ’18), the President of the Claremont College Republicans, told the Independent, “I find it disturbing that school funding is supporting a cause which excludes the majority of CMC students. Too many school programming centers which claim to represent and foster diversity have become mere tools for exclusion.”

Alex Ohlendorf (CMC ’18) told the Independent, “It is troubling to see that CMC, an institution which just last year saw widespread movements against racism on campus, has approved and funded an event that specifically denies students the opportunity to participate on the basis of ethnicity. By creating such segregated programs, administrators only encourage political polarization and prevent dialogue.”

Following the above-mentioned protests at Claremont McKenna College in late 2015, President Hiram Chodosh wrote publicly that “We must ensure that each of our students shares a deep sense of belonging to the CMC community. Thus, I am committed to developing a thoughtful, productive, and responsible inclusion strategy, where every student is fully engaged and valued… No student or group on our campus should live and learn in isolation.”

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Image: Flickr

Pitzer College VP Defends Racist RAs Despite College President’s Condemnation

After several national media outlets covered Pitzer College student leaders’ defense of racially discriminatory housing practices, both the incoming President of Pitzer College, Melvin Oliver, and the Vice President for Student Affairs, Brian Carlisle, issued statements to the entire student body, faculty, and staff.

“Recently, an article in local media quoted Facebook comments made by Pitzer students regarding their preference in race for their roommates in non-Pitzer housing. Specifically, the post indicated that only people of color should inquire about the housing option,” President Oliver stated in his first-ever email to the Pitzer College community. “While Pitzer is a community of individuals passionately engaged in establishing intracultural safe spaces for marginalized groups, the Facebook post and several subsequent comments are inconsistent with our Mission and values.”

“Pitzer College’s Mission is to create engaged, socially responsible citizens,” Oliver continued. “We come together to live and work in a shared learning environment where every member is valued, respected, and entitled to dignity and honor. Our shared goal is to create a balanced approach to engaging complex intercultural issues, not to isolate individuals on the basis of any protected status.”

Shortly after incoming President Oliver sent out his email condemning students who refuse to live with certain people based on the color of their skin, Vice President Carlisle reached out to the Pitzer College community with a different message. “Our dedicated resident assistants have been targeted by Twitter trolls who publicly defame them and attack their contributions to our community,” Carlisle wrote. “Now, more than ever, is the time to come together as a community to celebrate and support our amazing resident assistants and student affairs staff. Please join me in thanking them for their work in furthering our mission and for keeping our campus a safe place to work, live, and study.”

Students were unimpressed with the administrators’ inconsistent responses. “I think it’s important that our administration takes a firm stance on this. What we saw in those Facebook posts and comments was a disdain for a certain group of people, in this case, white people. If Pitzer wants to stay consistent with their values of racial harmony and multiculturalism, they must speak out against comments like this,” stated Nick Toro (PZ ’18). “What’s even more important than racial diversity is the diversity of thoughts and ideas. Only then can we learn to understand each other.”