Tag Archives: Political Diversity

My Political Views Do Not Make Me a Traitor to My Ethnicity

When I decided to go to a liberal arts college in California, I did so knowing that my political views were not going to match those of the majority on campus. I didn’t mind this, because the benefits Claremont McKenna College had to offer appeared to outweigh this seemingly minor detail, and I had assumed that my views and I would be treated with at least some respect.

When I arrived on campus in the fall, I decided to join the Claremont Independent. Unlike the other newspapers on campus, the Independent is self-funded, beholden to no campus administrator or bureaucrat, and has made reporting the truth its primary responsibility on campus. Despite the many differences in political opinions among the Independent’s staff, every member was accepted, treated with respect, and encouraged to express any contrarian views. Supporting a certain political candidate or having a dissenting opinion was welcomed, not shamed. And naively, I hoped that my college, with a diverse student body holding a wide range of political views, would thrive on intellectual debate and the exchange of ideas just like the Claremont Independent staff.

But ultimately, my hopes were dashed. Instead of a lively, respectful battle of ideas, I have witnessed the utter mistreatment of those with minority opinions. In one incident, Jose Ruiz (PO ’16), the Managing Editor of the Independent, was ordered to leave a protest– which he attended in support of a close friend–simply because of his association with the Independent. A few months later, he was attacked on social media for being a “shady person of color.”

The term “shady person of color” (SPOC) gets thrown around a lot at the Claremont Colleges. When students of color do not share the prevailing liberal worldview, our peers use this phrase to dismiss our ideas and separate us from the group. Even students whose job is to help students of color feel comfortable on campus participate in this conservative shaming culture. Timothy Valdez (CMC ’19) who will become a student mentor for the Chicano Latino Student Affairs office (CLSA) this fall, called me a “SPOC” after commenting on a Facebook thread relating to a post in which a CMC student threatened to bully another CMC student out of school. My political views do not make me “shady,” and I will not be cowed by efforts to silence my voice as an independent person of color on this campus.

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Silencing students with opposing views poisons the intellectual climate on campus for everyone, especially people of color. Calling those with dissenting views “shady” encourages groupthink by creating an expectation that all students who look the same have to think the same…or else. As a result, those who have not yet formed their own opinions or have dared to form their own are verbally beaten into submission, forced to side with the majority lest they be cast aside as an outsider or a traitor to their race. Race, ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation do not and should not necessitate a certain worldview, and it is an insult to the agency of every individual on this campus to say otherwise.

Mr. Valdez and his ilk suffer too when they silence their opposition on campus. Where there is no room for intelligent discussion on campus, their own views never have an opportunity to engage with and benefit from the marketplace of ideas. When we are not constantly challenged or questioned, there is no reason to modify our views, even if they are indefensible, weak, or self-contradictory.

I believe in personal freedom, small government, and a free market economy. However, I recognize that silencing and invalidating the opinion of a pro-government, fiscally liberal student by calling them “shady” or their calling their ideas “unsafe” would do nothing to advance my ideas or produce a healthy campus discourse. In reality, it is when I converse with someone with whom I disagree that I try my hardest to understand their reasoning and their beliefs, because it is in these moments that I experience the greatest growth and strengthen my arguments for my own beliefs.

I find it quite ironic that Mr. Valdez is going to be a mentor for CLSA next year, as this position is meant for students who will serve as role models for the Latino/a community. How will he be able to help incoming students find their place at the 5Cs if he vilifies anyone whose opinions contradict his own? Non-liberal students can also come from marginalized backgrounds and they need to feel comfortable with all the staff and mentors at CLSA. We are human beings, and one of the virtues we have is that of free will. We are free to choose how we behave, with whom we associate, and what we believe in. If people who share my ethnic background ostracize me because I don’t always agree with them, they are robbing themselves of an opportunity to benefit from a vibrant exchange of ideas and to appreciate the incredible diversity within the Latino/a community.

The Silent Majority Isn’t Silent Anymore

It’s been about a year since I joined the Claremont Independent staff. I wrote my first article about an America-themed party that students protested heavily a few months before. I had been upset about the protest for quite some time, but I was too nervous to say anything about it for fear of social ostracism. As a result, I kept my opinions to myself for a long while. However, when George Will was disinvited from speaking at Scripps last year, I hit my tipping point. I was fed up with the way non-progressive ideas were shunned at the 5Cs, and decided to finally join the CI.

When I wrote that first article, I was surprised by the response. People had favorable things to say about it on social media, and many people approached me in person to tell me that they appreciated my article and that they had been thinking the same thing. For the most part, this trend has continued throughout my tenure with the CI. When I write an article—whether about Yacht Club, Mudd Goes Madd, Pomona’s Forbes ranking, or anything else—many students voice their support and agreement. This type of reaction was puzzling to me: at a school where  92% of students describe themselves as Democrats, how was it possible that so many of my peers agreed with my relatively right-leaning positions that “the campus left” seemed to so adamantly oppose?

The answer is simple. Political ideologies can be thought of as a bell curve spectrum: some people are more liberal or more conservative than others, but most people fall closest to the middle. On college campuses (perhaps especially so at the 5Cs), there is a bit of extra weight toward the progressive tail, as a sizeable proportion of the student body has a political ideology that is many standard deviations to the left of the mean. By contrast, there are virtually no fringe right-wingers. Aside from perhaps the College Republicans, the CI staff is the most conservative group at any of the schools. And yet, the vast majority of our staff supports gay marriage, abortion, and the legalization of marijuana, in stark contrast to the views that most on the far right hold. As a result, many Democrats on campus find that their moderately liberal views are more similar to the moderately conservative views of our staff than they are to the outrageously liberal views of progressive Social Justice Warriors on the far left, even if we may check different boxes on the 2016 ballot.

Unfortunately, fringe leftists have tremendous power in shaping the climate for discussions on campus. Part of this is because 5C administrations generally cave in to anything these students claim is “offensive,” and that list extends almost infinitely. As we saw recently with the “Mudd Goes Madd” party, for example, the term “Goes Madd” was deemed so offensive to students with mental health disabilities that the party could not be funded. Students are afraid to voice opposition to fringe leftists at the 5Cs because they will inevitably be labeled “racist,” “sexist,” “bigoted,” or some combination thereof, since any disagreement with progressive ideas is immediately dismissed as intolerant.

Contrary to what certain students seem to believe, the Claremont Independent staff consists of some of the most tolerant people at the 5Cs. We see and hear things that we strongly disagree with every single day. Rather than crying “offensive!” or trying to end the conversation, we engage with these opposing views and try to understand them, even when we take issue with them.

The fringe left, on the other hand, has a tough time dealing with opinions it opposes. When Hannah, Taylor, and I posted a picture of the three of us wearing our “Always Right” CI shirts, people called us white supremacists, racists, and sexists, and said things like, “I wish I could shut them [the Claremont Independent] down” and “If you’re trying to convey everything your comments say about how open you are to discourse you need to burn those shirts, or never wear them again.” Nothing in any of our articles is racist or sexist, of course. Which is why, when we asked for instances of racism or sexism in our stories, our detractors came up empty-handed. This sort of rhetoric is antithetical to the goal of tolerance. Rather than trying to slander us with ad hominem attacks, we would prefer that Social Justice Warriors be more open to actually reading and respectfully considering our thoughts—even when they vehemently disagree with us.

Of course, we recognize that there is no shortage of students in Claremont whose opinions differ from the views we typically express in our articles. And we understand that our columns are not going to convert staunch Democrats into staunch Republicans. Our hope is merely that the Claremont Independent will give students who are not especially familiar with conservatism—that is, most students at the 5Cs—a better understanding of why we think the way we think. We hope that our articles will enable students here to be tolerant of conservative opinions, rather than reflexively writing them off as uninformed, insensitive, or evil.

The fringe left has scared many of the more pragmatic Democrats on campus into silence. There are plenty of students at the 5Cs who oppose trigger warnings, current sexual assault adjudication policies, and race-based affirmative action. Radical progressives make a lot of noise, but they do not come close to representing the views of students at the 5Cs as a whole. It’s exciting to see that the silent majority is finally beginning to speak up. Every day, more and more students are speaking out against the increasingly McCarthyesque political correctness movement. What started out as merely trying to remove blatant racism, sexism, and homophobia from polite society has morphed into students trying to turn every tiny misstep into an example of “institutionalized violence.” Many college students who were once proponents of PC culture are no longer able to support what the movement has come to stand for.

Over the past few weeks, as more and more national media outlets have covered our stories, I’ve grown increasingly optimistic about the future of the Claremont Colleges. Several liberal students have joined our staff, and we have received a tremendous amount of support from left-leaning students at all five colleges. These students have told us that they don’t often agree with the viewpoints we express, but they respect our opinions and our willingness to share them. In reality, that level of understanding is all that’s needed for a productive, civil conversation to take place between students who hold different views from one another.

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Image Source: Wikimedia Commons, David Shankbone

Why I Was the Luckiest Student at Scripps College

My heart was beating and my mouth was dry. Dare I challenge my professor’s assertion that Marxism is a better economic system? As I began to speak, fifteen pairs of eyes turned my way…

Coming from a family of firm believers in the free market, I was never certain whether my opinions were my own or those of my parents. Leaving home, I looked forward to going to a college where I could encounter a range of viewpoints. Scripps gave me the perfect opportunity to challenge my most closely-held beliefs because I was on my own in a sea of people who disagreed with me. I went into my Core II class, “Eat the Rich! Capitalism and Work,” fully committed to evaluating alternative viewpoints.

I read the class materials with curiosity and an open mind, and I came to class prepared to discuss both sides of the issue. Unfortunately, I was the only one who voiced a capitalist perspective. If a class about capitalism does not address both the positives and negatives of the free market, students are not able to develop an informed opinion. While the professor claimed to address both sides of the issue, he rarely, if ever, presented the positive aspects of capitalism. Even more alarming was the fact that the socialist and Marxist readings were required, while the pro-capitalist readings were completely optional.

Now, back to that fateful moment. Overcoming my fears, I clearly stated my case. The professor scrambled for a response. That’s when I realized that I was the luckiest student at Scripps College. I am grateful to have been given the opportunity to challenge my own views, evaluate my long-held beliefs, and articulate my thoughts independently. I am especially grateful that I gained the confidence to stand my ground in a room full of people who disagreed with me. Other Scripps students, however, have not been so lucky in that respect.

As John Stuart Mill said, “He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that.” I challenge Scripps professors and students to explore all perspectives of an issue, so that every student can have the same opportunities that I have had.

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Photography by Wes Edwards.

Featured Organization: ISI Claremont Society

Last fall the issue of political diversity took center stage at the Claremont Colleges as a result of two separate events. The first was the release of a 40-year study that measured the political attitudes of students and faculty at the 5Cs. The study found that over 70 percent of CMC students, and over 90 percent of students at the other colleges surveyed, identify as Democrats – a rate far above that of the American voting population. Of the 532 Claremont Colleges tenured faculty, there are only 16 registered Republicans (half of which come from CMC). The survey highlighted the glaring lack of political diversity at each school, with little to no response from any of the 5C administrations.

Shortly thereafter, conservative pundit George Will was disinvited from Scripps College, where he was slated to give a speech as part of the Malott Public Affairs Program. The program typically brings in one conservative speaker a year, noting that  “a range of opinions about the world – especially opinions with which we may not agree, or think we do not agree – leads to a better educational experience.” Will was disinvited because of a column he wrote that shared his conservative view of the college sexual assault adjudication process.

The Malott Program’s failure to uphold its commitment to bring in speakers with opposing viewpoints, and the 5C administrations’ lack of effort to address these concerns, sparked the formation of the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI) Claremont Society. Through the ISI Claremont Society, students are able to access the ISI Speakers Bureau to bring in renowned conservative scholars to campus, connect with other ISI Society members, and attend national conferences and educational seminars.

The ISI Claremont Society’s inaugural event will feature Pete Peterson, the 2014 Republican candidate for California Secretary of State and interim director of Pepperdine’s School of Public Policy. The event will be held on Tuesday, September 15 at 6pm in the Athenaeum Parents Dining Room. If you would like to attend, or if you would like to get involved in the ISI Claremont Society this year, please email claremontisi@gmail.com.


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Photo courtesy: Pete Peterson.

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.

Sincerely,

Hannah Oh

Editor-in-Chief

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Photography by Wes Edwards.