Tag Archives: Marina Giloi

Update: Open letter to President Gann

On Mar. 1, Editors-in-Chief of the Forum, the Claremont Port Side, The Student Life, and the Claremont Independent published and delivered an open letter to President Pamela Gann regarding the new student media policy that has gone into effect this school year. The response we received was, quite frankly, lukewarm. Though she acknowledged our concerns, President Gann did not indicate any plans to change the media policy’s status quo and instructed us to continue working with the Office of Public Affairs.

Overshadowed by the buzz over “The Pai Memo” and onslaught of articles praising and criticizing CMC’s social scene, President Gann’s disappointing response to our open letter has been largely overlooked. But this is an issue ultimately more important than any school’s party scene. Though it is a Claremont McKenna policy, it impedes student publications from any of the 5Cs from gaining access to and interviews from CMC administrators without jumping hoops through the Office of Public Affairs. Given the interconnectedness of our consortium, one school’s restrictive media policy affects students from all schools’ ability to be informed about fundamental policies and structures that impact student life.

We should not be content with President Gann’s response. Our letter outlined our publications’ and the Office of Pubic Affairs’ pre-existing efforts to work with each other and why even those efforts, under such a restrictive policy, prevented timely, reliable exchanges of information. What’s more, Gann’s response does not address the fundamental problem of having a public relations office be the mediator between all administrative offices and staff and student media. Publications will come and go, but students will always deserve information relevant to their academic successes, job prospects, and personal lives from punctual, fair sources.The new student media policy prevents student publications from fulfilling this requirement.

Changing the policy will be a continuing imperative for the Independent in the next year. Although our publication’s leadership will change, its commitment to upholding integrity and transparency on all 5Cs will continue. It is my hope that we will see this policy changed by the time I graduate next year, even if we are not able to change it under my term as Editor-in-Chief.

Why not just CMCers should care about sexual violence policy

On Mar. 1, we attended the “5C Deans of Student Life Panel on Sexual Assault Policies,” hosted by the Motley and Sexual Assault Awareness and Resource Committee, both student organizations at Scripps. Five deans from each Claremont College were present for the 2 hour presentation, which consisted of the deans’ answers to pre-screened questions and a brief, live Q&A period.

It was an overdue opportunity for administration to engage students directly for a discussion of changes to sexual assault policies across the 5Cs. The discussion covered many questions ranging from “What do you intend to address in the policies?” to the concern that “previous policies didn’t address all [sexual] identities.”

More insightful, however, were the deans of the other colleges’ answers in relation to those of Dean Mary Spellman, Title IX Coordinator and effective spokesperson for CMC’s changes to sexual violence grievance procedures in light of the Dear Colleague Letter. Dean Spellman pointed out that CMC’s sexual violence grievance procedure policy was already “technically in compliance” before the recent changes. However, it became clear from the discussion that the other
deans were taking a strong lead from Spellman’s initiatives.

For example, Harvey Mudd College VP of Student Affairs and Dean of Students, Maggie Browning, said that Harvey Mudd is in the process of revising its grievance procedures after they “took a look at what Dean Spellman was doing.”

Harvey Mudd College and Claremont McKenna College have already finalized the changes to their sexual violence grievance procedures. However, the other three colleges in the Consortium are still in the process of revising their policies.

Most of the deans emphasized that cross-campus policies were of particular importance, and it seems that policies are shifting to require that grievance procedures be carried out on the respondent’s campus. Given the frequency that students interact with one another across the 5Cs, the changes to grievance procedure policies on any of the five campuses have implications for any student at the Claremont Colleges.

Dean of Students at Scripps, Bekki Lee, acknowledged, “in cross-campus cases, the learning curve is to know each other’s processes.” It is concerning that any type of learning curve is involved in the context of serious accusations. Such comments point to the need for students from all 5Cs to educate themselves on changes to grievance procedure policies and their accompanying implications, especially in the area of the 5Cs’ differing definitions of consent and incapacitation. For example, CMC’s rules explicitly state that an individual can give consent under the influence, while other Claremont Colleges consider intoxication prohibitive of consent.

According to Dean Spellman, “each institution has its own culture of how to conduct processes. But what is really important is that where we do intersect, we have to be in agreement.”

The burden is now on students to educate themselves on how and where 5C policies intersect and agree. This starts with the sweeping changes to CMC’s sexual violence grievance procedures, and their problems, something to which we have already dedicated several articles, and something from which several 5C deans say they are taking the lead.