On March 9, Pitzer College President Melvin Oliver released a presidential “Message to the Community” titled “Hate Speech is Not Free Speech” which was both posted on the College’s website and sent in an email thread to all students, faculty, and staff at Pitzer.
The public statement, a response to the article published by The Claremont Independent that sparked national conversation on PC culture, racism, and cultural appropriation on campus, reads:
“Dear Pitzer College Community, Coverage in a local publication of a recent posting on the free wall [by Latino students that instructed white women to ‘take off their hoop earrings’] has ignited a cycle of violent hate speech that threatens the safety and well-being of every member of our community. Some students are experiencing harassment and death threats. As a place of higher education, we strongly cherish and defend intellectual curiosity, productive discourse and opposing views that may broaden our perspectives as global citizens.
However, when speech resorts to hate, violence and threats, we will not tolerate these acts nor the perpetrators of these actions. If you have information that will help us bring those responsible to justice, please contact the Office of Student Affairs and the Claremont Police Department. Every individual is entitled to freedom from fear and stigma, and with the respect of others to pursue a life of meaning and purpose. Pitzer College supports greater acceptance, not less. However each of us chooses to respond to the challenges presented by these ill-considered, offensive and hateful actions, I encourage us to care for one another and focus on our shared positive values.”
In the rest of his message, Oliver encourages students, staff and faculty to participate in a “Healing Justice Workshop” hosted by Pitzer Professor Kathy Yep. “The workshop,” Oliver writes, “practices mindfulness in a way that creates a more just, peaceful, and sustainable world and does not cause harm to others.”
The statement closes by listing resources for psychological counseling, Black Student Affairs, Chicano Latino Student Affairs, the Chaplain’s office, the Queer Resource Center, the Office of the Dean of Faculty, and the Office of Student Affairs available for support on campus at the Claremont Colleges.
Photo: C. Wohlers/Flickr