Category Archives: Opinion

The Dark Underbelly of Claremont’s Meme Culture

The opinions in this article reflect the author’s only, and do not necessarily reflect those of the Independent’s editorial board.


Update: Pomona College has launched an Incident Response Team headed by Dean Ric Townes to investigate the secret Facebook meme group “U PC BREAUX.”

According to Pomona College disciplinary policies and procedures, “[t]he College has established an Incident Response Team (IRT) to address issues relating to hate crimes and bias-related incidents. The IRT is composed of the Dean of Students or their designee, one or two staff members in Student Affairs, one or two members of the faculty, and student representatives chosen from the campus community. All members of the IRT must be Pomona faculty, students, or staff.”


This past Monday, September 18, I was invited into a secret Facebook meme group called “U PC BREAUX.” This group consisted of 304 persons, most of whom were Claremont Colleges students, had existed since at least December of 2016, and contained images and comments so vile that they would be right at home in the comments section of The Daily Stormer.

Why did my peers in the group say nothing? Continue reading The Dark Underbelly of Claremont’s Meme Culture

Make Title IX Fair Again

If further evidence were needed that campus courts are the wrong place to adjudicate criminal cases and, especially, sexual assault cases, look no further than Pitzer College in Claremont, California. Here, the administrator recently hired to oversee the college’s campus court proceedings is named in a lawsuit for violating a student’s fundamental due process rights.

Read more at American Greatness:

When A Photo With the VP Is “Violence”

Mutual respect for those with right-leaning political beliefs is lost on liberal students at the Claremont Colleges.

Most students probably come to that conclusion within their first week at Claremont. I certainly did after just a few days in Scripps’s freshman seminar course, “Core,” a mandatory curriculum to introduce—although “indoctrinate” more accurately describes my personal experience—the theories and philosophies Scripps faculty deem necessary for students’ college education (Angela Davis’s Are Prisons Obsolete? was the class Bible).

I did not feel that I could freely express my own views without being shunned by my classmates and professors alike. So, I did not. I kept my head down and did my best to avoid sparking controversy.

A few weeks ago, however, I saw how personally my peers take politics upon sharing a photo of me standing with Vice-President Mike Pence and Republican Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers. Knowing my Facebook audience was politically diverse, I made no political comments. Instead, I shared my excitement and gratitude for the opportunity to intern for Rodgers—the highest ranking Republican woman in Congress—and to interact with such impactful and important people in my job.

The photo should not have caused any trouble. But my Scripps College and Claremont peers begged to differ.

According to my peers, taking a photo with Vice-President Pence is anything but neutral. In fact, it constitutes direct violence and oppression against marginalized groups.

Shortly after posting the photo, I began receiving vicious comments and private messages accusing me of not caring about LGBTQ rights and attacking me for getting anywhere near the Vice-President. Close friends and distant acquaintances alike lashed out in fury, subjecting me to lectures, rants, and name-calling—all while ignoring the photo’s plainly apolitical context.

One person accused me of “ignoring the plights of marginalized people to achieve personal gain,” saying I was a person who “smiled with [their] oppressors.” Some took to mockery, inquiring, “Did you manage to ask him why he thinks women are second-class citizens?” and “How many LBGTQ folks do you need to help send to conversion therapy in exchange for reproductive rights from Pence?”. A friend asked me why I would stand next to someone who is “a threat to human rights everywhere.” A classmate simply commented, “Bitch.” Many others “liked” these comments, endorsing this shameless harassment.

How did we get here?

How did we get to the point where taking a photo with someone is an act of violence? How will we ever be able to have adult conversations if no one is ever willing to listen to those who have opposing philosophies? How can we coexist when we write off our political opponents—as well as those who dare to take photos with them—as morally bankrupt?

A mere “I saw you got to meet the Vice-President; what was that like?” to begin a friendly conversation would have been enough—or simply saying nothing at all. But instead, my peers thought the best way to respond was to confront, accuse, and lecture.

No one seems to remember what their teachers have taught them since Kindergarten: Be respectful of others. Apparently, when it comes to those with whom they disagree, many of my peers are only capable of disrespectful engagement.

For them, there is no value in one of their classmates working for a member of Congress if that member is a Republican. They are horrified that someone in the Scripps community would take a photo with the current Vice-President, a man with whom they disagree.

It is as if every student must follow an understood uniform code of conduct and speech—as if I must share the liberal politics of my peers in order to be treated with respect or considered a decent person. Their lecturing about diversity apparently does not extend to diversity of thought.

This is not as it should be. We need a genuine dialogue—now more than ever.

While division clearly exists between Republicans and Democrats serving within our government, many members of Congress recognize the importance of engaging with individuals across the aisle.

A member of congressional leadership addressed me and my fellow congressional interns this summer with what he said was the most important piece of advice he has received in all his years in government: Be passionate about what you’re passionate about. But, he said, it never serves you well to anger or alienate the other side. What does work is to treat your political opponents with respect and seek common ground with them at every opportunity.

The Claremont Colleges are full of passionate individuals. However, you will not persuade anyone by being the loudest to yell, or condemning others because their views do not align with yours. Instead, we should engage in civil discourse and allow respect and reason to prevail.


Photo: Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Why College Liberals Should Love Ronald Reagan

On liberal college campuses, Ronald Reagan is seen as someone who bullied women, the poor, minorities, and the LGBT community. Reagan, however, was no cold-hearted oppressor. His policies actually benefited marginalized groups, but this fact is often overshadowed by stubborn attempts to dress him up as an iconic white cis hetero male oppressor. I will debunk four of the biggest myths here. Continue reading Why College Liberals Should Love Ronald Reagan

Inside the College #Resistance

Last month, at an event at Scripps College intended to educate students on activism, I learned the art of “solidarity”—helping undocumented immigrants circumvent our nation’s immigration laws, and collectively shouting down opponents in student-led political protests.

Ever since the inauguration of Donald Trump as president of the United States, protests of his administration and other acts of resistance seem to be happening everywhere and every day, from the streets to the town hall meetings of members of Congress. Participation by my fellow college students in the “anti-fascist resistance” (or, in millennial speak, “anti-fascist #resistance”) is the norm, yet I had been puzzled as to how my peers planned to resist and what exactly the #resistance entails.

I finally had the opportunity to find out when I attended the event held by the #resistance at Scripps College with the purpose of teaching the students of the Claremont Colleges how to “resist the fascist and white supremacist policies being espoused and enacted by our current administration” by “[roleplaying] solidarity actions.” Walking in, I only had two questions that I hoped would be answered: Will the methods of resistance taught be legal, and how is this current administration fascist? I hoped that the former would be answered affirmatively, and that someone would at least attempt to explain the latter to me.

The event began with a discussion led by representatives from the labor union UNITE HERE, who explained that they hoped to teach students about the rights guaranteed by our country’s rule of law. Besides the gimmicky antics of the speakers, who called each other “comrade” and urged “students and [the] community to fight capitalism” in one of their PowerPoint slides, the opening discussion addressed the Trump administration’s deportation of undocumented immigrants and the legal rights of undocumented immigrants in a substantive way. The speakers explained, for example, the differences between administrative and judicial warrants, clarifying that only judicial warrants give Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents the authority to search private homes for undocumented individuals, and detailed the legal processes that undocumented immigrants face if arrested.

But this substantive discussion, which lifted my hopes, soon gave way to silliness—the roleplay simulation of ICE arrests, as well as a crash course on how to disrupt and protest in the streets and in the offices of politicians.

To simulate an ICE arrest, some participants (mainly students) were given roles as suspected undocumented immigrants; others were assigned to be ICE agents. When questioned by the ostensible ICE agents, the students who played suspected undocumented immigrants were instructed to pretend to be undocumented—staying silent in the face of ICE commands. This method saddened me; to set a precedent of undermining our rule of law is dangerous, and to expect the people of our country to buy into obstructing law enforcement belittles the decency and respect for the law Americans have. The organizers called this tactic “solidarity”; by pretending to not have documents, citizens and documented immigrants can make it difficult for immigration agents to find the undocumented individuals among them. However, teaching a group of presumably documented students who are mostly citizens how to pretend to be undocumented to show “solidarity” does not seem likely to solve the problems of illegal immigration. The change in content, from explaining the American legal system to obstructing the rule of law, struck me as another example of the organizers’ unconstructive message—teaching students how to hinder the rule of law should not be the answer to perceived injustices—but this message did not end here; the speakers soon started criticizing dialogue, touting uninterrupted protest as a better alternative.

Changing course, the speakers moved to discuss how protests trump dialogue as effective and just means of resisting the Trump administration, even if they block the flow of traffic and affect local businesses. To help students understand how to protest effectively as a “delegation,” the organizers initiated another roleplay scenario. I was assigned to be a member of the “herd,” the backbone of the delegation the role of which is to project numerical superiority. Some students played the role of “speakers,” who deliver the group’s message to a “person of power,” and others played “monitors” and “herders,” who are supposed to keep the delegation together and lead chants whenever the speakers encounter any trouble, which the organizers defined as any attempt to interrupt the speakers from delivering their message, even if it was an offer for constructive dialogue. I was hopeful that my peers would not believe suppressing dialogue is a solution to their perceived problems, but their enthusiasm proved me wrong. Their enthusiasm discouraged me; dialogue, the very foundation of communicating and solving problems with people of different opinions, seems to be shunned now. We simulated storming into a politician’s office and delivering a message, with the monitors leading a zealous chant of “Let them speak!” whenever the speakers were challenged by drowning out any voices of opposition.

After the event ended, I could not help but feel disheartened. Despite the commendable determination my radical peers displayed, it seemed they were willing to shut out dialogue to “deliver their message,” avoid confronting any challenge to their ideas by simply drowning out opposition with chants, and obstruct the rule of law that has served our nation so well. They were willing to divide and label this nation which we all share into groups of “oppressors” and “resistors,” all in an effort to challenge our democratically elected, though apparently “fascist” administration.

After almost two hours of indoctrination and “roleplaying oppression,” I left discouraged with my fellow students’ radical methods and misconceived ideas about the state of America—summarized by a souvenir in the form of a pledge card asking me to “fight back against the fascist policies of this new administration” and “engage in non violent civil disobedience.” However, most importantly, even after those two hours, I still did not have an answer to one of my central questions: “How is this current administration fascist?”

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Image: Flickr