Tag Archives: Conservatism

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.


Hannah Oh



Photography by Wes Edwards.

Who We Are: A Survey of the Claremont Independent Staff

Between the George Will disinvitation at Scripps, the Allan Cunningham controversy at Harvey Mudd, and the one-sidedness of political discussions at the Claremont Colleges as a whole, it was a rough year for those who made controversial statements at the 5Cs. It is no surprise, then, that the Claremont Independent has experienced unprecedented growth this year, doubling the size of its staff to 40 writers. While CI writers used to be almost exclusively CMC students, all five schools are now represented, with the majority of our writers (56%) hailing from one of the other four Claremont Colleges. 

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The CI often gets a bad rap around the 5Cs—many people consider us to be a group of crazed right-wingers trying to spread our propaganda around the campuses. In reality, we are an independent publication in all senses of the word. We do not receive any funding from any of the colleges, and we have no official political affiliation. As an independent magazine, we have the autonomy to write articles about things that other Claremont publications cannot or will not comment on. As a result, students are often drawn to us because we can provide them with an outlet to express opinions that would be frowned upon elsewhere.

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Consequently, our staff is predominantly conservative: 63% of CI writers describe themselves as either Moderate Republicans or Republicans, and 96% of our staff identifies with a political ideology that is typically considered “conservative.” Almost everyone on our staff supports a Republican candidate for the upcoming presidential election, and nobody on our staff is planning to vote for Hillary Clinton in 2016.

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To gain a better sense of the CI staff’s political leanings, I took a survey asking about our writers’ opinions on twenty different major political issues. The issues surveyed included economic, social,
environmental, and college campus-related topics. The responses revealed that the majority of our staff supported the conservative stance on sixteen of the twenty questions. The issues where our staff’s collective stance leaned more toward the traditionally liberal side were gay marriage, the legalization of marijuana, abortions, and income-based affirmative action.

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On the whole, the respondents were conservative on fiscal issues and split on social issues. This is to be expected, given that approximately one-third of the CI staff identifies as either a Libertarian or a Classical Liberal, both of which tend to be socially liberal.

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For eleven of the twenty issues surveyed, at least 20% of respondents fell on each side of the debate. For all but five issues, at least 10% of respondents held the minority opinion. There was only one question that every CI survey respondent agreed upon: “Should able-bodied, mentally capable adults who receive welfare be required to work?”

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While the CI staff remains divided on several issues (such as the death penalty and gun control), we are much less divided on more prominent issues (such as sexual assault adjudication policies, minimum wage, and Obamacare) that are frequently brought up in conversations around the 5Cs. Those who feel like their opinions are left out of these common campus conversations are more likely to join the CI to articulate and reflect on their ideas without getting shut down, which explains why our staff’s opinions are more homogeneous on the more popular topics and more divided on those issues that are discussed less often.

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Though the CI staff is not especially diverse on the “Democrat vs. Republican” front, there is still plenty of variety in the different types of conservative ideologies our staff members hold. At schools like the Claremont Colleges, where there are ten or more students who support the Democratic Party for every student who supports the Republican Party, most politically conscious students can easily distinguish between a liberal, progressive, and centrist Democrat. However, it is harder for students who lack exposure to conservative thought to immediately recognize how various types of conservative opinions differ from one another.

Democrats typically advocate for social and economic equality through a combination of progressive income taxes, government regulations, and interventions. In general, Democrats believe the best solution to economic and social problems is the institution of more government programs. Therefore, most Democrats support universal health care, environmental regulations, and labor unions.

The Republican Party’s platform is based on conservatism, advocating for a free market capitalist economy, small government, strong military, and social conservativism. Like Republicans, Libertarians, who are not designated as either Republicans or Democrats (although Libertarian politicians tend to run as Republican candidates), support the free market and limited government. However, Libertarians differ from Republicans by calling for a more limited military, unrestricted migration, and social liberalism.

Classical Liberals’ political opinions are quite similar to those of Libertarians, but they arrive at their conclusions for different reasons. As perhaps best explained by Richard Epstein, the main difference between a Libertarian and a Classical Liberal is that Libertarians tend to focus on ensuring that the government acts in accordance with its designated role (or, more often than not, its lack thereof), while Classical Liberals are typically more concerned with the consequences of governmental interventions.

At schools where there isn’t usually more than one conservative in the room, it is easy to ignore the vast array of right-of-center perspectives. Being pro-life does not preclude one from supporting gay marriage, and favoring lower taxes does not require one to oppose a reduction in military spending. Political opinions are a spectrum, and the CI strives to provide a look into those opinions that often go ignored.

Full Gallery of Responses (25 Slides):

Bill Kristol Talks Microaggressions, the Media, and Newt Gingrich

Bill Kristol has made quite the career for himself. Twenty years ago, after stints in government, the academy, and non-profits, he co-founded the Weekly Standard, the nationally influential conservative magazine where he is editor today. Kristol is also the Chairman of the Board of Governors at Claremont McKenna’s Salvatori Center for the Study of Individual Freedom in the Modern World, which hosted his talk at the Athenaeum last Thursday. At the Ath, Kristol predicted that, like 1980, 2016 would be a foreign policy election. Unlike in past elections, among the Democrats, Hillary Clinton shall inherit the nomination, while Republicans will engage in a great intra-party debate. Whereas usually Republican candidates are older, whiter, and more staid figures as compared to a younger, more diverse Democratic field, again the roles are reversed. Clinton is approaching seventy. The Democratic field trends old, white, and traditional. But the Republicans contenders are mostly 40 or 50-somethings, diverse and dynamic. The Independent spoke with Kristol shortly after his talk. Here’s what we said (edited and condensed for space and clarity):

Bill Kristol: Do people believe, since it’s your generation, the microaggression stuff? It’s just so ludicrous, I can’t even… I don’t know whether to believe the people who are making the complaints are in fact being honest and are in fact extremely sensitive people and don’t know what the world is like. Or is it just a charade to sort of shut up other people?

Claremont Independent: They definitely take it seriously.

BK: So they really think they’re supposed to go through their life never being offended by anything?

CI: It’s kind of like a personal attack…

BK: Even if it is a personal attack on you, like, so what? You’re not guaranteed to live a life without being personally attacked. Someone might tell these kids that some time.

CI: The Independent has made significant changes in recent years to adjust to the changing media environment. It seems the Weekly Standard has as well. What do you think about the ongoing digital disruption in media?

BK: I think it’s a big deal. Most of it is ways to get your arguments out. They shouldn’t really affect the content of the arguments and I think the content is still crucial. You can be very energetic on Twitter and have very effective social media people. If you don’t have something to say, it doesn’t do you much good. So I think people sometimes overstate it in that respect. We started the magazine almost twenty years ago, and we thought we’d be putting out a weekly magazine, and, you know, it would go through the mail and people would read it and it would have its effect. [Now,] everything goes online and a lot of the content is addition online-only content, and as many people read the weekly standard online as read it in print. For us, thank god, we still sell 90-95,000 copies a week of the print magazine. And that’s good because that’s revenue, and it’s reassuring that people are willing to pay for the magazine, but so for us so far we haven’t suffered for the fact that people can read stuff online for free. And of course, it has increased our reach. If people read a post or read one of the print articles online and it gets to an extra thousand people that’s great. And so who knows where it’ll be in five or 10 years from now.

I do think generally, the magazine brand, I say this with some reluctance since I edit a magazine, the magazine brand might be slightly less important than it was twenty years ago. Of course, we still try to put out a good magazine, a variety of articles, short articles, long articles, foreign policy, domestic policy, but people don’t really read it as a magazine the way they used to. In some way the individual authors become more important, the brand of the magazine, less so. I don’t think that’s necessarily good or bad, you know. Editors probably had too much control in the old days. So I’m happy that individuals get more attention, but it probably does mean that the Weekly Standard as a brand isn’t seen to be as distinctive as 30 or 40 years ago. I still think [the magazine] has a kind of certifying or credentialing effect. The fact is, if you submit an article to the Standard and we accept it and print it, it does mean that a bunch of editors have thought it was worth printing.

People often ask, should I submit stuff to magazines, or should I just have a blog? And I’m actually for blogs, you know, I’m not a snob about this at all, but I do think if I were hiring someone, and you were 25 years old, and let’s say you have a great blog, and linked to a lot and people liked it. It would still, I would still give an edge to people who had had articles published in the Weekly Standard, Wall Street Journal, and Los Angeles Times op-ed page, maybe, because it means that different editors thought his or her stuff was good enough.

CI: Has the new age changed the nature of political talent, in terms of discovering and developing it? And what of political effects of Charles Murray’s fears of America’s Coming Apart thesis?

BK: On the one hand, I worry as Murray does that there is a sort of self-sorting segmentation, where you don’t get the kind of not-so-well-educated city boss of 50, 60 years ago who was a very shrewd politician and in touch with the voters, and a good, very good political leader, he just wasn’t terrifically articulate, wasn’t well-read, didn’t have great manners. And we put so much of a premium now on a sort of superficial sophistication and I think that’s unfortunate. On the other hand, I think the Internet and the general fluidity of things these days allows people to rise pretty quickly, from nowhere. I mean Obama, Rubio, Ted Cruz. These were not people who came from particularly well-off backgrounds or prominent families or anything like that. And they’re pretty important people, so that’s good, I think. I worry, though, a little, that we put a little too much weight on credentials: what college you went to and sort of how you present yourself, as opposed to what you have to say. And there’s a little too much conformism for that reason, intellectually but also socially. Either way, you want people to be idiosyncratic. I do worry that the schools are more conformist than they used to be, less rewards for idiosyncrasy.

CI: Is the new senate class more diverse than normal in terms of talents and backgrounds?

BK: Yeah I think so, and I think that’s a good thing. I mean Tom Cotton, Joni Ernst, come from their own backgrounds. A lot of them went to good schools… but yeah I’m very encouraged as a Republican, as a conservative, particularly, of the quality of the younger Republican members, which I think is very much higher than it has been for several years in both the Senate and the House. It’s also true of some of the younger governors.

CI: Does the new tech/media age weaken the importance of elected officials?

BK: Electoral politics is still very important. At the end of the day you need an elected official to carry the ball and to put an idea seriously in play. You can have all the think tanks all the magazines, floating this idea or that, but until some elected official comes along and says I’m going to make this my legislative priority or president try to get this enacted, it’s still sort of theoretical. I wouldn’t underestimate the importance of electoral politics. It’s also something about being elected in a democracy that gives you a kind of standing that you don’t have if you’re just editing a magazine or at a think tank. People think, oh it’s nice that you’re at a magazine, but there’s something about the ballot box, about people actually voting for you over someone else, that gives a kind of credibility. So I think for a political movement, you should never ignore elected officials. What really matters is the quality of candidates. I think Republicans and conservatives actually for quite a long time had very good magazines, good journalists, good think tanks, not so good elected officials. I think that’s been changing a little bit.

CI: Among conservatives on campus, there is a strong preference for libertarian politicians like Ron and Rand Paul. Does a more dovish Rand Paul-type stand a chance in 2016?

BK: I’d be very surprised if the Republican Party went with a dovish candidate. [In 2011,] there hadn’t been any obvious repercussions of what [Obama] had done. Of course he had a much more centrist foreign policy team. He had Gates. He had Petraeus. He had General Jones as National Security Advisor. And even Hillary. Now I think we’re seeing some of the consequences of Obama’s policies. And that’s why I think that this will be a foreign policy election. Rand Paul in a way would have been better off running four years ago. He’s much more presentable than his father, but his father actually ran at a time when there was really a mood in the party that was somewhat skeptical of interventionism. The consequences of noninterventionism are looking pretty grim these days, so that’s why I’m skeptical of Rand Paul.

CI: Why are Republicans having such a hard time in California?

BK: The state hasn’t changed that much. So you’d think that some Republican could occasionally win. I do tend to think that part of it is an accident of just candidates and sort of bad luck on Republicans’ part. It is frustrating. You’d think with Boxer retiring, there’d be a chance to have an attractive Republican run for that seat, maybe a different type of Republican, one who is in sync of California. In 2010 they thought that having women run would really helped, and it turned out to not help at all.

CI: Finally, many conservatives see that a lot of the negative trends our political system that Americans are concerned with today seem to be traceable to the late 60s or early 70s. Charles Murray’s Coming Apart, for instance, or Peter Thiel’s observation of a switch from “definite optimism” to “indefinite optimism,” originate in that era. What changed? Can we undo that?

BK: Yeah, these things are deep trends, and obviously people like Tocqueville saw that this is kind of the way that democracy is tempted to go almost 200 years ago, so it’s not even something that began in the 60’s, but the good news I think is that all these trends are and often deep rooted but they can also turn around. I think that Peter’s point on indefinite optimism is very interesting, though. To the degree that this is political, I do think that Thiel is onto something in a sense. I do think that the conservative agenda can’t just be anti-government, Hayekian, almost, though I do think that’s an important part of it. But also government is supposed to be limited and energetic, if you read the federalist papers. Lincoln certainly believed in a strong government for doing the things that government should do. And conservatives could be in favor of energy and competence, as well as limited government. I think the two go together. I think big government is bloated government, which is an ineffective government. So I think we conservatives have overdone the critique of government by itself, as opposed to critiquing government for doing things it shouldn’t be doing. But also making the case there are some core government functions we want the government to do them and to do them well.

CI: Newt Gingrich seemed the closest person in the 2012 GOP field to promote that “definite optimism,” but it seems hard for him to reach a broad swath of voters.

BK: I think it wouldn’t be so terrible to look a little bit like Newt Gingrich. I mean he has his flaws. I disagree with him on some things. But he was one of the more successful conservative leaders of modern times.

If the electorate is sort of demoralized, maybe someone with a little different background from Newt, someone military or sort of an organization that people think can get things done needs to step up and say we can get some things done. But I mean Newt ran only once for president, and he was a flawed candidate in many ways, but he did make a run of it against Mitt Romney, who had so much more money. I think there’s more of a market – and I’m glad you mentioned Newt – for a version of Gingrich’s conservatism than people think. I think the mistake of conservatives is [the perception that] we just want to save money. We don’t care about a space program. We don’t care about any major scientific achievement. We don’t care about interstate highways. We don’t care about having great universities, which include public universities.

The Elephants’ Charge: Voters Nationwide Stampede to GOP

Screen Shot 2014-11-17 at 10.34.09 PMThe February 2014 cover story of the Claremont Independent, “2014: Year of the Elephant,” boldly asserted that Republicans would win big in the midterm elections. The article was met with widespread contempt across the 5Cs. Multiple copies of the issue were visibly ripped apart on the Scripps campus. A columnist for The Student Life publicly ridiculed the “large elephant on the cover.” The backlash was so severe that former CI Editor-in-Chief Brad Richardson even issued an editorial response titled “In Defense of the Independent.”

As it turns out, Republicans have obtained an historic majority in the House of Representatives, will likely pick up nine seats in the Senate, and have even managed to achieve a net gain in governorships by winning in the solidly blue states of Illinois, Massachusetts, and Maryland. It would be tempting to sit back, write an article telling the 5Cs “we told you so,” and bask in the glory of these midterm results; however, it is perhaps more constructive to reflect on how the Republicans won as opposed to just how many seats they won.

Republican Governor-elect Greg Abbott (TX)
Republican Governor-elect Greg Abbott (TX)

One of the most significant takeaways from the 2014 midterm elections is the fact that voters realized Democrats’ accusation that Republicans are waging a “War on Women” is simply a political tactic, divorced from reality. In the Colorado Senate race, incumbent Democrat Mark Udall made women’s issues the crux of his campaign (so much so he was given the nickname “Mark Uterus”), yet he still lost to conservative Republican Cory Gardner. Feminist icon Wendy Davis lost the Texas gubernatorial election to Greg Abbott by over 20 points, even losing the women’s vote by a considerable margin.

Republican Senator-elect Joni Ernst (IA)

The number of Republican women elected to office in 2014 is even more indicative of how the “War on Women” is a farce. Joni Ernst of Iowa and Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia will become the first female senators from their respective states. Nikki Haley of South Carolina, Mary Fallin of Oklahoma, and Susana Martinez of New Mexico all won their gubernatorial re-election bids and ensured that their husbands will remain the First Gentleman of their respective states.

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Republican Senator Tim Scott (SC)
Republican Congresswoman-elect Mia Love (UT)

The 2014 midterms also dismantled the notion that the Republican Party electorate won’t vote for minority candidates. Tim Scott of South Carolina (where the Civil War began) became the first African-American to be elected to the Senate in the South since the Reconstruction Era. Likewise, Will Hurd of Texas defeated a Democratic incumbent to become the first black U.S. Representative from the state since Reconstruction. Most notably, Mia Love of Utah will become the first black female Republican in Congress.

Republican Governor Brian Sandoval (NV)

Republicans are also demonstrating considerable success in their outreach to the Hispanic community. Governor Brian Sandoval won re-election in the swing state of Nevada by an astounding 46 points and is considered a potential candidate in the 2016 senate election against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Republican Governor Susana Martinez (NM)
Republican Governor Susana Martinez (NM)

After becoming the first Hispanic female governor in 2011, Susana Martinez trounced her Democratic opponent by 14 points. While many Democratic operatives salivate at the prospect of Texas becoming a blue state (thus dealing Republicans a huge blow in the Electoral College), Republican senator John Cornyn won re-election with 48 percent of the Hispanic vote (compared to 47 percent for his opponent) according to the Pew Research Center.

With its enormous gains in both the House and Senate, the GOP has undoubtedly asserted itself in a forceful way on the national scene. Yet, what is perhaps even more indicative of a nationwide Republican revolution is the GOP’s dominance at the state level. Republicans now control 31 out of 50 governorships and 69 out of 99 state legislative bodies (including complete control of 29 state legislatures). This means that the Republican Party will be setting the legislative agenda at both the state and federal levels.

This unquestionably dominant GOP performance alludes to a more poignant, harrowing reality for Democrats: the strategy of class warfare and race/gender-based division is incompatible with the 21st century. No longer can Democrats use scare tactics and divide the electorate into groups of the “oppressed” (women, minorities, the poor, gays) and the “oppressors” (men, white people, the rich, Christians). This strategy didn’t work for Mark Udall, and it failed miserably for Wendy Davis.

According to exit polls, 70 percent of Americans indicated that the economy and healthcare were their primary voting issues. People simply don’t have time to worry about fictitious oppression narratives when they are trying to find a job or have lost their health insurance. In the hyper-insulated, overwhelmingly liberal 5C environment, it is easy to lose track of these mainstream issues that are foremost in the minds of the majority of Americans.

We realize that most students at the 5Cs will probably scoff at the aforementioned results and disregard the underlying trends. Instead, they will likely attribute the GOP victory to the evil Koch brothers using dark money to corrupt politicians and buy the election (they will want you to ignore the political spending of liberal billionaires George Soros and Tom Steyer). They will also complain of angry voter sentiment held by old white people who flocked to the polls out of a personal hatred for Obama (once again, wanting you to ignore the GOP’s performance among women and minorities).

The Claremont Independent highlighted in its Oct. 27 article, entitled “Who’s the Fairest of Them All,” that 71 percent of CMC, 92 percent of Pomona, and 96 percent of Pitzer students prefer the Democratic Party. The Golden Antlers was quick to point out that the Claremont Independent was the “last to see elephant in the room, college students are mostly liberal.” However, we at the CI like to think that our February cover story shows we were in fact the first at the 5Cs to see the real elephant in the room: the GOP is stampeding across the nation.

Elephant Image Source: Earth Touch/Flickr
Politicians’ photos taken from their respective Facebook profiles

A Free Market Defense of Plan B Vending Machines

By Chris Gaarder and Hannah Oh

Here at the Claremont Independent, we aim to kindle meaningful discussion by introducing less commonly held views on a variety of campus issues. In his latest opinion piece, Harry Arnold ‘17 expresses his views on the promotion of Pomona’s Plan B vending machine and its negative moral and social implications. However, we argue that, from an economic standpoint, there is a strong free market case to be made in defense of vending machines that sell Plan B, among other medical supplies, on America’s college campuses.

Plan B is a prime example of the near-infinite problems bedeviling our nation’s health care market, particularly when it comes to drug policy. Medical vending machines exemplify the positive changes occurring in America’s healthcare landscape in spite of federal policy.

On the whole, drugs are far too expensive and inaccessible for the average consumer. Part of this is due to the elaborate regulations and bureaucratic red tape promulgated by the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The high cost of getting a new drug approved by the FDA is outrageous. Forbes has determined that it costs, on average, $350 million to get a new drug through the FDA to the market. Who pays for that? It isn’t the drug companies. Instead, the cost is shifted onto consumers directly, or indirectly through higher insurance premiums and taxes to cover those on government-provided health insurance programs.

When Plan B first came out as an over-the-counter drug, it cost up to $90 and averaged around $50. How were those prices set? It’s hard to tell due to our country’s historical lack of price transparency and competition for medical goods and services. When you go to your pharmacist or your doctor, you pay whatever price they set. And the system is built against allowing consumers to shop around. With all the distortions and opacity in the healthcare market, these prices are often arbitrary and highly inflated. Some people don’t mind paying a higher price, but most price-conscious consumers would prefer to pay less.

Today we are in the midst of one of the first major shifts of market forces into healthcare. If allowed to continue, it could prove to be the best thing that ever happened to healthcare, and Corporate America is leading the way.

In recent years, big-box retail corporations have realized that there is serious money to be made in providing health care services and products, ranging from simple flu shots to a wide range of prescription drugs. Target, for example, utilizes its immense purchasing power, operating efficiency, and tight profit margin to deliver the same drugs as pharmacies and hospitals at a much lower price.

Transparent store prices breed competition on factors including price, quality, and convenience. Unlike with pharmacies and hospitals, consumers who buy drugs at chain stores, such as Target, Rite-Aid, or WalMart, are able to easily compare among the various providers to find the best price. On college campuses, vending machines provide yet another source of competition for over-the-counter drugs.

IMG_0526Vending machines for Plan B are an innovative way to provide around-the-clock access and competitive pricing. With vending machines, no direct intermediary is necessary for purchase. You simply insert money and receive your desired product, at any time of day (especially important given the time-sensitive nature of Plan B). Vending machines also provide college students a level of convenience similar to what big box retailers provide real-world consumers. Convenience is valuable itself, a non-monetary form of competition.

By providing emergency contraception via vending machines, colleges are more efficiently meeting student demand. The Pomona College administration did not invent the Plan B vending machine: the Associated Students of Pomona College (ASPC) played an integral role in introducing the concept and formalizing the final proposal. The desire for a vending machine that distributes Plan B arose from students concerned that the drug is not available at night or over the weekend. Student Health Services, the only Plan B provider on campus, is closed during those times. To address this shortcoming, Pomona students initiated a viable solution that won widespread support.

Students at Claremont McKenna College are only now engaging in a meaningful discussion about Pomona’s policy change, and that’s because of Harry’s article. His article promotes one of the many perspectives that exist among right-leaning students. His is more conservative, ours more libertarian.

The Claremont Independent staff remains divided on this issue, but we hope that, in any case, we are able to spark a thoughtful dialogue on campus, perhaps beyond Plan B, vending machines, and Skittles, that sheds further light on the morality of commoditizing emergency contraception, the social consequences of our college hookup culture, and the economic fundamentals behind improving student access.