Category Archives: Editorial

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

I Resign: The Writing Center’s Mission is to Teach Writing, Not Ideology

Dear Professor Bromley, Ms. Liu-Rojas, and Ms. Snell,

I am writing to resign my position as a Writing Fellow. I wish that I felt I could continue in this role and am sorry to resign mid-year. As you know, writing is one of my passions and as you also know, that wasn’t always the case. It was my freshman seminar that convinced me I could write and that I enjoyed it. My professor, Dean Lozano, was instrumental in that process, and his Writing Fellow, Ben Brasch, was key as well. At the conclusion of the course, I decided to apply to become a Writing Fellow in the hope that I could inspire other writers the way I had been inspired. I was thrilled and honored to be selected to serve as a Fellow.

I had genuinely thought the purpose of the Writing Center was to teach writing. I hadn’t realized the writing instruction would be delivered with a side of ideology and that the ideology was not only mandatory but also more important than the actual teaching of writing. I’ve learned this over the past few months, which is the reason for my resignation.

First, Ms. Snell, the Writing Center Team Coordinator, asked me to meet with her. She accused me of being an obstacle preventing the Writing Center from being a “safe space.” This came in response to a news article I had written that detailed a series of no-whites-allowed “safe spaces” at the Claremont Colleges. Ms. Snell specifically mentioned my article, and noted she was concerned that my involvement with both the Writing Center and the Claremont Independent would lead students to associate the organizations with one another. Obviously, many other Writing Fellows contribute to campus publications. But as far as I’m aware, no one else has been told that’s a problem.

My next meeting was with Professor Bromley. She told me she was worried that I was not doing enough to make the Writing Center a space where students feel welcome. To rectify that, she canceled my appointments that night and asked me to read three packets about identity politics instead. One of the readings states that teaching English to non-native English speakers is an attack on free speech. Another criticizes “the hegemonic feminist theory produced by academic women, most of whom were white.” The third, titled “Heteropatriarchy and the Three Pillars of White Supremacy,” states that capitalism is racist. I read all three packets, as I had been told to do. I did not agree with the opinions presented in any of them, nor did I see any connection between these readings and my work at the Writing Center.

Ms. Snell then asked to meet with me again to talk about what I had read, and what role identity politics should play in the Writing Center’s mission. My peers have proposed their ideas for a new Writing Center mission statement, noting that we should aspire to “provide a space for students to work through their ideas with fellows trained in a writing pedagogy that considers how race, gender, sexuality, language, national-origin, and socioeconomic status influences and affects those ideas,” “educate ourselves so that we better understand oppression, liberation, and dynamics of difference and power as they manifest themselves in the Writing Center,” and “acknowledge and interrogate the ways in which the Writing Center, Pomona College, and academia itself perpetuate and have perpetuated injustice and oppression.” I told Ms. Snell that, in my opinion, the goal of the Writing Center should remain unchanged: to provide “students with a community of experienced readers and writers, offering free, one-on-one consultations at any stage of the writing process—from generating a thesis and structuring an argument to fine-tuning a draft.”

I guess that was the wrong answer, since the next day I was placed on probation and informed that I needed to meet with Professor Bromley and Ms. Liu-Rojas, the Writing Center’s administrative assistant, the following week. I was told the reason for my probation was that I had missed a mandatory meeting for Writing Fellows, but at my meeting with Professor Bromley and Ms. Liu-Rojas, we did not discuss that at all. Rather, we talked about my prior meeting with Ms. Snell. Apparently, “her feelings had been hurt” because of my “tone.” Professor Bromley and Ms. Liu-Rojas told me that if I did anything else they deemed wrong, I would be fired.

The following night, I worked my normal shift. I met with two students and I thought that both consultations had gone well. However, I soon received an email from Professor Bromley stating that the Writing Center had received an “anonymous complaint” from a student who had worked with me, that they were investigating the situation, and that my appointments would be canceled until further notice. Perhaps coincidentally, a quick Facebook search revealed that one of the students with whom I worked that night had dressed as “White Supremacy” for Halloween and appeared in photos with two other students who were dressed as “Steven Glick and his White Fragility,” yet she still chose to work with me as her tutor.

Based on these incidents, which have occurred over many months, it has become clear that the Writing Center is harassing me because of my political beliefs. This is unacceptable, just as harassment based on gender, race, religion or any other demographic or ideological construct is unacceptable. My probation is not related to any inadequacy of my work at the Writing Center. Rather, it is due to my political views, which differ greatly from those of the Writing Center leadership. Each time I have been asked to meet with Writing Center leadership, I am asked to talk about controversial political issues that are unrelated to my work at the Center. Soon after each meeting, I have been informed I’ve done something wrong on the job and need to be punished. I had hoped that President Oxtoby’s recent statement in support of free speech at Pomona College would be a game changer, allowing conservative, libertarian, and classically liberal students and faculty to share our honest opinions with our progressively liberal peers who seem to control the sanctioned conversation on campus. Unfortunately, I was naively optimistic. His words carry no meaning if they are ignored and countermanded by Pomona’s faculty and staff.

I wish I could continue to work at the Writing Center because I feel that it’s important for all students, whether black or white, on financial aid or not, conservative or liberal, to have a place to review and strengthen their writing. Unfortunately, the Writing Center no longer seems to be that place. Until the Writing Center can return to its apolitical mission and forsake its acceptance and appeasement of political harassment, I regret that I must resign my position as a Writing Fellow.

Sincerely,

Steven Glick

Editor-in-Chief, The Claremont Independent

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.

_____________

Hannah Oh, Editor-in-Chief

Steven Glick, Publisher

Taylor Schmitt, Managing Editor

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Image: CMC Forum

Editorial: Welcome to the Claremont Independent

Dear Class of 2019,

Congratulations! This week you have officially entered “The Bubble.” You now belong to one of the most intellectual, elite liberal arts institutions in the country—where reasoned discourse and thoughtful debate are not just encouraged, but actively kept alive by your many bright and vocal peers.

The Claremont Independent is the catalyst that drives our most lively, heated student discussions. We are the leading outlet for students whose views differ from—and often oppose—mainstream liberals and progressives. We also report campus news and, importantly, serve as a check to 5C administrations. As the only independently funded student publication, the Claremont Independent is in a unique position to criticize administrative decisions and policies, ranging anywhere from unnecessary free speech infringements under the guise of “political correctness” to blatantly biased curriculums that propagate liberal agendas.

We are a small but quickly growing organization with influence that extends beyond the Claremont Colleges. Last year, our stories consistently made national waves and were picked up by prominent news outlets, such as the National Review, Newsweek, and the Daily Caller. Over the summer, we received the Collegiate Network’s William F. Buckley Award for Outstanding Campus Reporting.

Traditionally, we have always been a right-leaning organization with the majority of our members subscribing to some variation of conservative ideology. At the heavily left-leaning Claremont Colleges, we provide students with the opposition needed to engage in critical thinking and intellectual debate—two key pillars of a traditional (and meaningful!) liberal arts education.

So welcome to the Claremont Independent, where you can find the most politically diverse set of opinions, thought-provoking arguments, and significant campus commentary at the 5Cs. We hope you enjoy these next four years with us.

Sincerely,

Hannah Oh

Editor-in-Chief

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Photography by Wes Edwards.