Pomona College Dean of Students Miriam Feldblum released an email statement this morning affirming that the college was aware of former Claremont Colleges’ Queer Resource Center (QRC) Dr. Jonathan Higgins’ controversial tweets prior to his hiring. The news raises new questions over the extent to which recent media coverage of Dr. Higgins’s questionable comments about white gays, women, and the police influenced the college’s decision to terminate him within 48 hours of his first day on the job.

Dr. Higgins’ tweets, which came to national attention last week, included comments on how “police are meant to serve and protect white supremacy” and expressed a wariness of “white gays and well meaning white women.” In other tweets, Higgins characterized heterosexuality as “celebrat[ing] rape culture, homophobia and transphobia…every day.” The tweets were published and fully public well before Higgins’ hiring in June.

This morning, only a few days following Higgins’ ouster, Dean Feldblum sent an email to all students at Pomona acknowledging that Higgins’ tweets were known to the college during the hiring process.

“The College was aware of Dr. Higgins’ tweets and social media presence prior to our offer to hire him in early June,” she wrote in the email. “We recognize that he brings an important voice to support of LGBTQIA students, and especially QTPOC [Queer Trans People of Color] students, and that he approaches his work with passion and concern.”

Feldblum also said that she and another dean had discussed with Higgins his social media presence and “the broader responsibilities of the Director position,” among which is the responsibility to “create an inclusive environment that honors the intersectionality and multiplicity of all student identities.”

These conversations and the college’s apparent knowledge of Higgins’ social media outbursts apparently did little to compromise his candidacy for the directorship. A dean of students announced his hiring in an email sent in June, praising his work as “a motivational speaker dedicated to empowering all LGBTQ students with an emphasis on students of color.”

Yet within 48 hours of Higgins’ start as QRC director, the college chose to terminate him—only hours after the tweets they had reviewed at length with their new hire came to light in national media coverage.

Neither Feldblum nor other representatives of the college have shed much light on the reasons for their sudden reversal—or why it occurred only after Higgins had officially entered his new role.

“Both prior to and after his hire, Dean Jan [Collins-Eaglin] (and later Dean Jan and I) also engaged in thoughtful discussions with Jonathan about social media and the broader responsibilities of the Director position,” Feldblum explained in her email this morning. “However, as the discussions progressed, it became clear that our visions to ensure the support of all LGBTQIA students at The Claremont Colleges did not match, and that we could not reconcile our paths.”

“These decisions were made by Dean Jan and me,” Feldblum continued, referring to Dr. Higgins’ dismissal. “The QRC staff were not responsible for the decisions.”

Feldblum email statement’s makes no mention of whether media coverage of Dr. Higgins’ tweets contributed to his dismissal.

Following Higgins’ firing, an open letter published by a group of “outraged student affairs professionals”—allegedly comprised of student affairs staff from colleges across the country—criticized Pomona’s decision to remove Higgins as “gatekeeping that keeps Black queer professionals out of key positions to create change in higher education.” The group also demanded Dean Feldblum’s resignation for her “gross missteps of both firing Dr. Higgins and continuously refusing to support marginalized students.”

Responding to these accusations in an email to the Independent, Dean Feldblum contended that she has dedicated her work to supporting all students, especially marginalized and underrepresented students.

“I have dedicated my work to supporting students, with particular attention to marginalized and underrepresented students, and am deeply committed to supporting my staff and their work,” Feldblum said. “I think these are substantive, important conversations, and I am happy to engage, listen, learn and share.”


Matthew Reade contributed reporting.

Categories: Campus News
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  • Robert Hill

    Dr. Higgins did not characterize heterosexuality as you describe. That twret was specifically about so-called “heterosexual pride” celebrations, which are direct counters to LGBTQ pride.

    • Miguellito

      So what? Heterosexual pride in no way equates to “rape culture”. If you want to see real rape culture go to the Middle East. If gays can celebrate being gay then straights can celebrate being straight. Welcome to the free world. And this guy’s racist diatribe against white gay men and white women completely ignores the fact that both are marginalized communities but because their skin isn’t the right hue they’re ignored and blamed. Dr. Higgins is the very thing he preaches against.

      • T.J.

        Yaaaaawwn. So bored with these predictable racist & xenophobic “but the Middle East!” and “reverse racism” BS. *deep eyeroll*

        • Imperial Patriot

          T.J. It is not BS. It is the truth. You and all other Students at Claremont are simply too privileged to realized it.

          You who have grown up living in a military and economic power where food, water, and human rights are plentiful; you know absolutely nothing about the world beyond what you read on Tumblr.

          You know what I am bored of, the intellectual vacuous arguments against “straight white males” that come from overprivileged shmucks.

        • A Jackson

          No one who matters cares if you roll your eyes. You pathetic cucks and fags will always be subservient. Do you really think alpha whites will let you do anything outside parameters that we set???

    • A Jackson

      Gays are abberations. I’ve had several drunk fags forcefully hit on me, once while swimming at beach with my wife. Those crimes of nature will go the way of the dodo.

  • Krystal

    Intellectual vacuous arguments against straight white males from overprivileged schmucks eh?

    How about this argument against straight white males… historically, said group is responsible for the cultural decimation, oppression, genocide of those they come in contact with. Ostensibly white, i mean might, makes right (of way at least). If said group refuses to give up their destructive ways they will reap the benefits of the discord they have sown.

    • Dr. Necessitor

      “…historically, said group is responsible for the cultural decimation, oppression, genocide of those they come in contact with.”

      Lol. You just described Asians (Ghengis Khan and Attila the Hun who raped, murdered and pillaged across Europe to create their empires), Africans (the Moors who invaded and occupied Spain, Portugal, and parts of France and Italy for 600 years; Shaka Zulu), Native Americans (especially the Lakota and Navajo*), South Americans (Aztec, Incan and Mayan Empires), and the peoples of the Middle East (who enslaved millions of Europeans and Africans after Muhammad outlawed the enslavement of Muslims). The problem with ethnic studies is the lack of historical context. You’re learn lots of bombastic rhetoric without any opportunity to question its accuracy.

      *From the official website of the Navajo tribe:

      “Wherever [the Navajo a/k/a Dineh’] went — until the white people subdued them — the Dineh’ like the Mongols, were raiders and spoilers. The mystery of the vanished Cliff-Dwellers [the Anasazi] is a mystery no longer when we know the nature of the warriors who came among them. The Zuñis told [U.S. General] Cushing that twenty-two different tribes had been wiped out by the Enemy people, as they called [the Navajo]; and the walled-up doors of proud Pueblo Bonito testify mutely to the fears of its inhabitants.” (Dane Coolidge 1930)

      http://navajopeople.org/blog/ancient-navajo-and-native-americas-migrations/

      Kind puts a different spin on the “we were here first” argument used by Indians to demonize whites. There were at least 4 massive waves of Indians coming to America and they each conquered and took the lands of the tribes who arrived before them. We simply conquered the last Indian conquerors.

      • A Jackson

        Only intelligent thing about race and ethnicity in the U.S. that I’ve ever seen on the internet.

    • A Jackson

      Start the race war you useless queer. We will exert our dominance yet again.

  • Deserttrek

    the idea of a queer resource center is beyond mental illness. anybody who thinks that is a rational idea should be locked away for their and societies protection

  • fisht

    America needs to reopen its Mental Institutions and send all of the escaped Democrats back into the Lobotomy centers where they all belong.