Category Archives: Campus News

San Bernardino Shooting Rattles the Claremont Colleges

Last Wednesday, students across the Claremont Colleges received an alert bulletin from Campus Safety, reading:

The City of San Bernardino is currently responding to an active shooter scenario in the approximate area of Waterman Avenue and Orange Show Road.  The area is being responded to by several first-responder agencies.

The Claremont Colleges are not at immediate risk or endangered by this emergency and the Department of Campus Safety continues to monitor the situation.  Campus community members are encouraged to avoid this region of the City and County of San Bernardino and to also follow local and regional news for additional updates.

The attacks on the Inland Regional Center, less than thirty miles from the Claremont Colleges, claimed sixteen lives, including fourteen civilians. While initially eyewitness accounts suggested at least three shooters, the police later identified the two as a married couple, Syed Rizwan Farook, a native of Chicago, and his wife Tashfeen Malik. During the attack, Malik posted a since-removed Facebook status pledging allegiance to the Islamic State. The two died the same day as the attack in a shootout with the police later that day two blocks east of the original shooting site. Three of the fourteen victims had come to the United States to escape violence, religious persecution, and poverty in their home countries.  

In the aftermath of the attacks, the FBI announced on Friday that it was treating the San Bernardino attack as a terrorist case, remarking that the case was inspired, but not directed by the Islamic State. President Obama, in his address on Sunday reiterated this sentiment, promising continued vigilance against the Islamic State. President Obama reminded viewers, however, that the Islamic State “does not speak for Islam”, and that his top priority is still the “security of the American people.”

A cursory investigation showed that the handguns were legally obtained from federally licensed dealers in the Inland Empire. While searching the couple’s Redlands townhouse, police found large stockpiles of weapons, including twelve pipe bombs. Though further targets remain unknown, investigators suspect that the couple had planned multiple attacks throughout Southern California.

No students or faculty of the Claremont Colleges were injured or killed in the attacks.

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Image: Source

Scripps Students Demand Required Anti-Oppression Training “To Ensure their Unlearning Process is Continuous”

Yesterday, students from Scripps College issued a list of demands to the school administration. “As a collective of students who recognize movements here, and globally, we are calling upon increased action to combat institutional racism and oppression,” the students write. “Together, we have written the following list of proposed actions with the faith that our institution, Scripps College, will honor its commitment to institutional change that centers diversity and inclusivity.”

We Demand: The appointment of a Vice President of Institutional Diversity who will supervise and assess the diversity and inclusion efforts in all Staff, Faculty, Administration, and Student realms of the college,” the list begins. “We demand that students are able to help shape what this position will include, as well as be voting members on the hiring committee. We demand that the Board of Trustees Ad Hoc Committee on Diversity and Inclusion become a standing committee.” The students feel that the creation of this position “is one of the first steps in establishing an institution of checks and balances and accountability for the college on issues of diversity and inclusion.”

The students also demand that the Sustained Dialogues Initiative end. “Sustained Dialogue Campus Network methods solely depend on utilizing marginalized student experience to catalyze discussions even at the risk of retraumatizing minority participants,” they write. “In addition to this, in trainings focused on gaining facilitation skills, all participants are certified as discussion facilitators despite having openly proven themselves to be complicit in racism, classism, ableism and other modes of oppression. This indiscriminate certification process is just one example of the ways that Sustained Dialogues fails to protect, support, and center students of color.”

Further, the list calls for “mandatory Anti-Oppression Trainings” for faculty, staff, and students. The students propose that their classmates should not be able to register for classes each semester unless they attend anti-oppression training “to ensure their unlearning process is continuous.”

“Frameworks of the occasional, optional trainings offered to faculty, administration, staff and students to promote inclusion are not focused on explicitly naming and addressing facets of oppression and the intersections between them (including, but not limited to: racism, classism, ableism, homophobia etc),” the students state. “Scripps has a history of using its seemingly ‘progressive and paradisiacal’ nature to avoid addressing, naming, and putting systems in place so that our community can begin to explicitly unlearn the ways in which we are complicit in structural and interpersonal violence.”

Additionally, the list of demands includes a request for modifications to Scripps’ CORE curriculum. “CORE 1 has continually failed to aptly educate Scripps students on the topics of Race, Ethnicity, and Gender,” the students write. “Students should be learning about modern manifestations of systemic violence including but not limited to: gentrification, police brutality, military industrial complex, xenophobia, immigration, prison industrial complex, food deserts, and sexual assault on college campuses.”

The students also demand “the hiring of an on-campus therapist experienced in healing and processing racial based trauma,” as well as “A policy of accommodations for students that experience racial-based trauma, equal to accommodations given to disabled students.”

“Racially traumatized students are put in unsafe spaces,” the students write. “Institutional racialized violence creates no room for students to have healing time for their race-based trauma. These students are forced to encounter the same perpetrators and discriminators—who may be fellow peers, faculty, and administration—thus retraumatizing these students as they are in hostile environments (ie. residential halls, classrooms, dining commons).”

The list also calls for “the removal of SAT/ACT/Standardized Testing from the admissions process” because “SATs/ACTs are strongly biased against low-income students and students of color, at a time when diversity is critical to our mission statement and campus climate.” The students state, “Removing the SAT/ACT requirement for admission makes Scripps more accessible to populations who would otherwise be isolated from applying.”

In addition, the students demand “The establishment of an intercollegiate department for Indigenous Studies and Disability Studies, respectively.” The students note, “Course curriculum that reflects diverse lived experiences is important in boosting retention rates and creating individuals with inclusive excellence.”

The students also call for “increased scholarship and support” for illegal immigrants due to the fact that “California has one of the largest undocumented populations and Scripps should be responsive to the demands in the immediate geographical community by supporting undocumented/DACAmented students pursuing higher education.”

“Every other college in the consortium has at least one undocumented/DACAmented student and have explicit policies for admitting undocumented/DACAmented students,” the students write. “Scripps should follow suit and implement an official policy to ensure that undocumented/DACAmented students are able to attend and succeed at Scripps to resist subjugation for people who cannot obtain legal citizenship.”

The list of demands closes with a call for the abolishment of the 7C Demonstration policy. “We Demand: A repeal of the 7C Demonstration policy in all of its forms and a statement that acknowledges the institutional violence of endorsing the policy at all,” the students write. “Demonstrations are by nature disruptive, so these policies discourage students from protesting at all with the threat of both police force and academic consequences. When considering which students are more likely to protest or need to protest, these policies disproportionately target students of color and marginalized students.”

Scripps Associated Students (SAS) will hold an open forum to discuss these demands at the Motley on December 1.

Monsanto Speaker: Claremont is “By Far the Worst Student Audience” Ever Encountered

After students heavily protested her lecture at Harvey Mudd College last night, Dr. Chrissy Lawrence of Monsanto Company, an agricultural biotechnology corporation, canceled the lecture she was slated to give at the Keck Science Center. “I don’t know how many of you attended last night’s talk from a Monsanto scientist, but some of the students behaved unprofessionally,” noted a Harvey Mudd College professor in an email obtained by the Claremont Independent. “The Monsanto speaker said that in all her years of presenting to students in colleges/universities that last night’s student audience was by far the worst student audience she had ever encountered.”

Much of the backlash against the Monsanto representative came from Pitzer College students. In an open letter published in The Student Life, Adin Bonapart (PZ ’16) criticized the decision to allow Dr. Lawrence a platform to speak since she is associated with “private interests from monopolistic corporations.”

“Because of the controversial nature of this topic, I urge you to postpone Dr. Lawrence’s visit and invite her to return as a panelist alongside knowledgeable academics and a more diverse set of voices, or revoke her invitation completely,” Bonapart writes. “As the most-hated corporation on earth, Monsanto and its subsidiaries should NOT be freely allowed to promote themselves at our academic institutions.”

“Monsanto’s products and policies are unsafe, unjust, unsustainable, violent and undemocratic,” Bonapart continues. “It would be a great shame to myself and to many of my peers if Dr. Lawrence was allowed to speak on campus.”

Several other Pitzer students expressed similar concerns regarding Dr. Lawrence’s lecture in a Student Talk email thread. “Monsanto’s legacy on land and people all over the world has been horrific,” notes one student. “I do not flinch when arguing that they have, and are still, involved in committing mass genocide onto our entire biosphere.”

In the same email thread, another Pitzer student stated, “This is not a matter of refusing to listen to the other side. It is about standing up for human and land rights… and holding our colleges accountable for doing the same.”

“Monsanto, who not only creates their own research, but has proprietary rights over it, has unmitigated discretion over what studies get, and don’t get published,” the student continues. “Not only this, but the company has been known to silence other research that doesn’t fit their agenda!”

The student closes by stating, “I understand the importance of listening to, and grappling with differing points of view. This type of dialogue creates important critical thought, as well as individuals whose values are better equipped and informed. I will argue however, that Monsanto has too much disproportionate power: this conversation will not be equal, or truthful. To welcome them to our campus is an expression that we welcome and approve of crimes they have, and continue to commit.”

A physics professor from the Keck Science Department responded to this student by pointing out that, “There’s unfortunately a lot of misinformation floating around about Monsanto and GMOs in general. Specifically, the highlighted quote from the final article in [name redacted]’s first email is from 2009 and out of date. Articles further investigating that issue show that Monsanto does not have any veto power over independent research at US universities.”

“The current situation is not perfect, but it’s not nearly as bad as that Scientific American article made it out to be,” the professor continues. “And it’s certainly not the case that Monsanto has ‘unmitigated discretion’ over what research gets published.”

In place of Dr. Lawrence’s lecture, the Keck Science Department will host an open discussion tomorrow focusing on exchanging ideas on college campuses.

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Image: Flickr

President Oxtoby Signs Off on Student Demands at Pomona College

Last night, Pomona College President David Oxtoby signed off on a long list of student demands. “We, a group of marginalized students who have not been served by Pomona College, demand that President Oxtoby support and implement the following,” states the document.

We demand that Pomona College’s President, David Oxtoby, invoke his power and leadership at the Claremont Colleges by releasing a public statement of support and solidarity for ‘CMCers of Color,’” the document begins. “Pomona College, as an institution, should acknowledge the validity of their demands for institutional change, which include but are not limited to: a permanent Resource Center by Spring 2016, student representation in hiring the next CMC Dean of Students, and hiring a CMC Diversity and Inclusivity Chair.”

“This formal commitment and statement must explicitly use language that will directly acknowledges [sic] the inequities that exist within these institutions and that legitimizes the experiences of marginalized communities by recognizing the different systemic factors that contribute to their oppression. Explicitly, this means that the terms ‘marginalization,’ ‘institutional racism,’ ‘failure to support,’ and ‘violence’ should be present in this statement.”

Additionally, the student protestors requested that President Oxtoby hold separate meetings for various student groups. “We demand that each affinity group has a personal meeting with President Oxtoby to discuss our individual, unique needs and struggles for the creation or improvement of cultural spaces,” the students write. “These meetings will begin this Friday, November 20, 2015, and will be weekly with a different affinity group.”

These affinity groups are defined as:

  • Indigenous and Native American students
  • Low-income/first-generation students
  • Undocumented/DACAmented students
  • Black and African Diaspora students
  • Latinx students
  • Any other affinity groups that feel the need for a meeting

The students also called for an increase in mental health resources. “We demand an active and formal commitment to allocate and increase funds for Monsour and other mental health resources so that students who request counseling have the opportunity to receive it as needed, especially for urgent cases,” the students state. “The college should provide upfront payment of copays for off-campus resources, effective immediately.”

They demanded that Pomona hire “full time counselors who are specially trained in queer and trans mental health issues” and provide “sensitivity training for all current counselors and staff” by January 19. “We demand that Pomona College and the Claremont University Consortium increase the number of counselors who identify as persons of color and LGBTQ+ to reflect the diversity of the campuses so that all communities can best be served.”

Lastly, students insisted that Pomona increase its racial diversity. “We demand the following: starting with the 2025-2026 academic year, at least half of all tenure-track position openings must be offered to underrepresented minorities,” the students state. The students also call for “the establishment of a Disability Studies and a Native American and Indigenous Studies department” as well as “an increase of student representation in the initial candidate vetting process for hirings of new faculty.”

Safe Spaces Segregate the Claremont Colleges

In the wake of last week’s protests and resignations at Claremont McKenna College (CMC), “safe spaces” for students of marginalized identities are popping up all over the campuses of the Claremont Colleges. After protestors called for action, CMC President Hiram Chodosh stated his commitment to providing a permanent safe space for students of color in the near future. Until then, the Associated Students of Claremont McKenna College (ASCMC) have dedicated part of their office as a safe space for these students.

Safe spaces for minority students have appeared on the campuses of other Claremont Colleges as well. Last week, the Motley Coffeehouse at Scripps College issued a statement on its official Facebook page, “The Motley sitting room will be open tonight from 6-10 only for people of color and allies that they invite. Please feel free to come and use the space for whatever you need – decompress, discuss, grieve, plan, support each other, etc. In solidarity.”

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The 5C Students of Color Alliance also held an event at Pomona College to provide a safe space for “healing” and “self-preservation” for students of color. “Come by to chat, work, vent, organize, express, and do anything else that will help sustain you with other students of color,” they write in a Facebook post. “As this is a space for students of color, please respect the space as such. I truly hope that organizations centering around different marginalized identities continue (or begin) offering spaces for intentional healing and preservation!”

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Additionally, a “Hurting and Healing” event, described as “a *for POC, by POC* art show,” is scheduled to take place at Pomona College on December 5. “This show’s intent is to create a space that is pro-POC, pro-black, and anti-white supremacist,” states the event’s website. “While 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.”

Further, the editorial board of The Student Life, an official, student government-funded newspaper, expressed solidarity with the recent movement and issued a statement explaining that the publication will create a space in its next issue for students of color who wish to write about their personal experiences. “We are tired of going to protests, seeing White allies snap and clap and shout only to move on the next day like nothing happened,” the editors write.

“So for those who don’t feel all the messages of solidarity are enough, or who feel that mainstream media is misguided in representing people of color, or who feel compelled to speak and be heard, we would like to repurpose its influence by providing a space in next week’s issue for students of color to voice their experiences,” the editors continue. “We will proofread, but we will not edit your voice or content.”

In response to the abundance of racially segregated safe spaces on campus, two CMC students issued a statement of concern. “We are in support of every person’s right to associate, or not associate, with whomever they choose,” the students write. “However, we object in the strongest fashion to institution-sanctioned physical safe spaces whose purpose is to discriminate based on racial or sexual identities, and which physically bar certain students from their premises.”

They point out, “CMC guidelines forbid organizations associated with the college to deny membership based on sex, race, religion, national origin, ancestry, creed, sexual orientation or physical, mental, emotional or learning disability, as they ought to.”

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Image: Flickr