CMC Administration and Faculty Express Support for Protestors

This afternoon, Dean of Faculty Peter Uvin sent an email to the student body with an attached letter signed by over 200 CMC students who opposed some aspects of the protests this past week. Uvin flippantly writes, “I received this message last night and totally forgot to forward it to the students. Here it is—better late than never.”

The letter states, “While we do not condone the costumes and cultural insensitivity that the girls in costumes displayed, it is not permissible to publicly humiliate and essentially cyber bully girls that have repeatedly apologized.” The letter also expressed disapproval of students’ decision to use a hunger strike to force Dean Spellman resign.

Dean Uvin sent another email right afterwards about “painful” and “angry” statements that have been made over the past week. “Some communication—foremost on social media, and sometimes by people from outside our campus—has consisted of hurtful ad hominem attack, vitriol, and other disrespectful personal statements,” writes Uvin. Though Uvin notes that such speech is constitutionally protected, he goes on to state, “these sorts of attacks instill fear and undermine the commitment to mutual respect. This is not the way we want to behave, not [sic] is it this way any of us will achieve our goals in a sustainable manner.”

Dean Uvin ends his email, “PS. Please know that while even aggressive and hurtful statements are covered by the First Amendment, any threats of violence are illegal, violate College policy, and trigger immediate investigation and strong discipline. Please contact us immediately if you experience or observe any such threats.” Uvin also attached some Tips for Dialogue that provides guidelines for how students should talk to one another:

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In an email sent last Thursday, Dean Uvin expressed support for the protestors and their movement. The email included a statement of support from 102 faculty members, which is nearly half of the total CMC faculty. “We are collectively sorry for incidents of bias that students have experienced in our classrooms and on our watch,” said the statement. “We will strive to do more to attend adequately in our course curricula to race, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, class, and privilege.”

The email provides a bullet-point list of the ways in which the faculty plans to address the protestors’ concerns:

We endorse and pledge to work towards the immediate creation of staff positions dedicated to diversity/inclusion issues.

We endorse and pledge to work towards the creation of an on-campus resource center dedicated to the needs of students of marginalized identities. Until permanent space can be found, we endorse and pledge to work towards the immediate re-allocation of other existing space. 

We endorse and pledge to work towards the need for diversity training for faculty as soon as possible, and ideally as soon as next semester.

We endorse the need to re-evaluate our curricula, and we pledge to conduct such a re-evaluation to be sure that a CMC education adequately addresses issues of race, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, class, and privilege.

We pledge to continue our longstanding commitment to engaging students in critical discourse.”

Earlier this week, Claremont McKenna College President Hiram Chodosh sent an email describing the “institutional needs and action steps” that CMC needs to take in response to the protests. “We have authorized the creation of a new leadership position on diversity and inclusion within Student Affairs, dedicated to provide direct student support and education and experiential programming for the entire campus,” the email states.

Chodosh goes on to state that CMC will create a similar position in the Academic Affairs committee. “We have authorized the creation of a new leadership position on diversity and inclusion within Academic Affairs, dedicated to supporting faculty recruitment, ongoing efforts to integrate and strengthen diversity throughout the curriculum, and the provision of resources to faculty in their work with students from diverse experiences and backgrounds.”

“We have authorized the creation of a new programming space to support campus climate (identity, diversity, and free speech),” the email continues. “This space will be dedicated to collaborative, educational work by students, professional staff, and other experts on diversity, identity, civil rights, and free speech issues on our campus.”

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Image Source: Wes Edwards

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