Tag Archives: Protest

UPDATE: In Unprecedented Move, CMC Faculty Permits Seniors Who Violated Student Code to Graduate

Claremont McKenna College (CMC) told the Independent in a statement that its faculty voted in May to allow CMC seniors who violated the student code during a protest in early April aimed at preventing Heather Mac Donald from speaking at the college to partake in commencement exercises despite their conduct. According to an internal letter obtained by the Independent, this move is an unprecedented, break from the college’s standard approach to disciplinary cases.

In the letter to CMC faculty, Dean of Faculty Peter Uvin stated that “[h]istorically, when faced with comparable circumstances, the College has typically implemented an expedited conduct review process so that the matter can be resolved prior to Commencement … However, in the interests of overall fairness and consistency with respect to all Respondents, it is not appropriate to implement an expedited review process in any of these [protesters’] cases. And hence, as said, the process may well take until after Commencement.”

“The College has never let a student walk who did not fulfill all requirements for the degree,” he continued.

In the same letter, Dean Uvin emphasized the gravity of the student code violations:

“The charges against these students are sufficiently significant for the College to have activated the procedure that carries the highest potential sanctions, including suspension or expulsion. It is wrong to let students, over whom such significant doubts as to their good standing exist, graduate from the College as if these concerns did not exist.”

Yet in a statement to the Independent, the college confirmed that its faculty did ultimately vote to allow seniors who transgressed the student code amid the protests to walk at graduation, despite its promise to investigate and sanction students who had violated policy.

The faculty’s decision to permit seniors who violated the student code to participate in commencement exercises came after CMC refused to give into a student group demanding the exoneration of all students under investigation. The group, which identified itself as the “CMCers of Color,” had expressed concern that sanctions for protesters might impact the employment prospects of graduates who violated college policy, writing that “CMC has threatened to prevent students [who violated the student code] from walking at graduation and holds the power to withhold transcripts, barring students entrance into a competitive job market.”

Asked about the faculty’s decision, the college insisted that permitting seniors under investigation to walk at graduation would not impact the sanctions process:

“The faculty voted to let all seniors who had fulfilled all academic requirements for the degree walk in commencement. That includes a number of seniors who were, and still are, subject to a continuing conduct investigation and review process.”

Based on Uvin’s letter and the college’s statement to the Independent, it is clear that the faculty chose to award seniors their degrees on a conditional basis:

“[Motion 1] The faculty hereby conditionally grants those students who are currently the subject of a Conduct Investigation and Review process under the Student Conduct Process and who otherwise have fulfilled all the academic requirements for graduation, the degree of Bachelor of Arts, conditional on the completion of the Student Conduct Process, and either (i) a finding of non-responsibility or (ii) a finding of responsibility followed by the completion of any applied sanctions.”

Dean Uvin’s letter also listed a second motion that would have barred seniors from walking at commencement until the completion of the investigation and the fulfillment of any punitive sanctions:

“Motion 2. (only applicable if motion 1 carries) Students whose degree is granted conditionally will be eligible to participate in the first Commencement ceremony following the completion of the Conduct Process … The College has never let a student walk who did not fulfill all requirements for the degree. If we voted to award the degree conditionally—for we believe that unresolved major concerns about students’ good standing preclude us from awarding their degree at this moment—then it automatically follows that we should not allow these students to walk at this time, but only after they received the degree.”

If the second motion were adopted, Dean Uvin clarified, two scenarios could take place:

“If the conduct matter is fully resolved, including the satisfaction or completion of any sanctions, prior to the close of regular business hours on May 12, 2017, the student shall be eligible to participate in the Commencement Ceremony on May 13, 2017.

If the conduct matter is not fully resolved by May 12th, the student shall be eligible to participate in the first Commencement Ceremony following the completion of the conduct process, including the satisfaction or completion of any sanctions. Example: A student is found responsible, and the sanctions include the deferral of the student’s degree until the end of the summer or fall 2017 semester.”

Based on CMC’s statement to the Independent, however, it is clear that the second motion failed, with the faculty voting instead to allow seniors still under investigation who fulfilled academic requirements to walk in commencement.

In the same statement, the college took care to emphasize that the investigation is ongoing and that faculty would not be involved in the sanctioning process once the investigation is complete:

“While we cannot discuss details of ongoing conduct cases, per our Student Conduct Process, if any student—of whatever year—is found responsible for violations of policy, sanctions will be determined by a designated sanctioning officer, not by the faculty. Upon any finding of responsibility, such sanctions will be implemented.”

After repeated requests for comment from the Independent, the assistant to Dean Uvin said that Uvin is in meetings “literally all day every day” until he leaves campus for vacation and thus could not answer any questions.

Elliot Dordick contributed reporting.

CMC President Promises To Punish Policy Violators in Wake of Protest

After protesters at Claremont McKenna College shut down a scheduled lecture and Q&A with Heather Mac Donald, a critic of the Black Lives Matter movement, by blocking the venue’s entrance, Hiram Chodosh, the president of Claremont McKenna College, promised to crack down on some student protesters for violating college policy.

Chodosh observed that, despite the protesters’ efforts, a live-stream of Mac Donald’s talk was viewed by nearly 250 people live and had been watched over 1,400 times at the time of his email. “In the end, the effort to silence her voice effectively amplified it to a much larger audience,” he wrote.

He outlined the college’s decision to not physically remove protesters, explaining that “based on the judgment of the Claremont Police Department, we [the college] jointly concluded that any forced interventions or arrests would have created unsafe conditions for students, faculty, staff, and guests.”

Chodosh also took the unusual step of promising punishment for those who blocked all exits and entrances to the Marian Miner Cook Athenaeum, where Mac Donald’s talk was scheduled to take place. “Blocking access to buildings violates College policy,” he wrote. “CMC students who are found to have violated policies will be held accountable. We will also give a full report to the other Claremont Colleges, who have responsibility for their own students.”

Chodosh highlighted the fact that the protest was composed of “a large group of students from the Claremont Colleges, including a small number of CMC students and some individuals from external communities.”

Echoing the statement released Thursday evening by Vice President for Academic Affairs & Dean of Faculty at Claremont McKenna College, Peter Uvin, Chodosh concluded by reaffirming the college’s commitment to protecting free speech:

“Finally, the breach of our freedoms to listen to views that challenge us and to engage in dialogue about matters of controversy is a serious, ongoing concern we must address effectively. Accordingly, we will be developing new strategies for how best to protect open, safe access to our events.”

Scripps Students Boycott Dining Hall, Claim Caterer is “Neocolonial,” “Racist,” and “Exploitive”

Scripps students boycotted Scripps College’s Malott Dining Hall during lunch on Thursday in order to protest Scripps’ contract with its dining hall provider Sodexo, accusing Sodexo of racism, exploitation of labor, environmental violations, and management of private prisons. Organized by Scripps student campaign Drop Sodexo, the boycott as well as a simultaneous protest outside the dining hall were aimed at ending Scripps’ contract with Sodexo. Drop Sodexo urged students to eat at other dining halls in the Claremont University Consortium (CUC) during the boycott.

According to the event description, the organizers invited students to “join the Drop Sodexo campain [sic] in protesting Scripps’ contract with Sodexo! This is a boycott of Malott lunch services on the 30th as well as an alternative community lunch event. We want to show the administration that students are serious about ending the Sodexo contract. You showing up to this event will help do that!” Following the boycott, Drop Sodexo claimed success, writing that “Malott was basically empty for all of lunch.”

The Drop Sodexo campaign organized the boycott because it claims Sodexo—a French multinational—is involved in “civil rights abuses…neoliberalism, anti-unionism, substandard food quality…racial discrimination, major class-action lawsuits, ownership of private prisons, and much more.” The students also claim that Sodexo exploits “neocolonial relationships that allow them to acquire raw materials from nations of the Global South.” Drop Sodexo also states that by “continuing business with a company that has such an extensive corporate crime record, we [Scripps] are providing a monetary endorsement for the increasing exploitation of land, people, and communities throughout the world.”

In an interview with The Student Life—the administration-funded student newspaper of the Claremont Colleges –student organizer Rebecca Millberg (SC ’17) accuses Sodexo of having “a history of horrible labor practices and food safety violations and worker exploitation,” adding that “it shouldn’t be hard for Scripps administration to see that it [the contract with Sodexo] goes completely against our values.”

Scripps administration subsequently informed student organizers that terminating Sodexo’s contract before its 2020 expiration could result in over $1 million in “legal fees and a variety of other expenses” that could “reduce funding for other important priorities, such as financial aid and faculty and staff compensation.” In a separate statement in response to students’ calls to end its contract with Sodexo, Scripps administrators stated that “the College does not have a policy of disqualifying contractors based on their client or investment portfolio.”

Drop Sodexo has suggested that “Scripps could choose any number of dining management companies besides Sodexo,” including in-house dining services. But when Pomona College — the flagship institution of the CUC — stopped contracting with Sodexo in 2011, many dining hall staff lost their positions at the College.

It doesn’t help that many of Drop Sodexo’s accusations run counter to Sodexo’s actual track record.

While Sodexo did settle an $80 million lawsuit brought by black employees on the basis of workplace discrimination back in 2005, it has since won numerous awards for diversity and inclusivity, including NBIC’s “2016 Best of the Best Corporation for Inclusion,” DiversityInc’s “2016 Top 50 Companies for Diversity,” and Working Mother’s “Best Companies for Multicultural Women.” The French multinational has also recently received awards for sustainability, its commitment to hiring and retaining military veterans, and LGBT inclusion in its workforce.

Drop Sodexo also charges that Sodexo has “a consistent pattern of interfering with worker rights in many states,” and it has criticized the company’s “anti-unionism” actions against the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). In fact, Sodexo took the SEIU to court for employing illegal tactics to unionize workers, including blackmail and extortion. Faced with the possibility of a highly damaging public relations fiasco and civil liabilities, the SEIU agreed to terminate protests against Sodexo in exchange for dropped charges.

The student campaigners have also criticized Sodexo’s food quality and safety, stating that “to avoid having allergic reactions, many students limit themselves to eating the same foods for each meal because the labeling cannot be trusted.” Malott has been rated as one of the best campus dining halls in the country by the Princeton Review.

According to Drop Sodexo, the French multinational is responsible for the “privatization of the prison industry” and has exploited “unpaid or underpaid labor from private prisons.” While Sodexo divested its investments from American private prison corporation Correction Corporation of America in 2001 — nearly two decades ago — charges that Sodexo has poorly managed private prisons abroad are substantiated, as evidenced by the Sodexo-managed prisons HMP Northumberland and HMP Forest Bank in the United Kingdom.

Sodexo has operations in developing countries such has Colombia, Guinea, Morocco, and the Dominican Republic.

Drop Sodexo did not respond to requests for comment.

Editorial: We Tell the Truth When No One Else Will

A recent editorial in The Student Life (TSL) criticized a Claremont Independent article because they thought it opted “for sensationalism over accuracy and impartiality.” Our article’s title pretty much summed up the story: “Black Women Protest Campus Party Because Non-Black Women Are Invited.” TSL notes that the event “attracted controversy due to confusion over whether the even [sic] was open to all women of color or only black women.” In other words, there was no inaccuracy or bias in the Independent’s version of the story. And yet, TSL claims our article “demonstrates no effort to understand the underlying issues behind the controversy or the opinions of the community members affected.” The reality is that we build our news stories from quotes, and allow our sources to tell the story as accurately and impartially as possible rather than trying to provide our own commentary or insight. Simply put, our style of reporting lets the facts speak for themselves. Unfortunately for our radically liberal peers, the facts consistently reveal some serious problems on our campuses.

Anyone who has followed the Independent this year knows that we go to school at one of the most racist and bigoted places in America—but not in the way progressives would like you to think. On multiple occasions, white students (and recently, even non-black students of color) have been excluded from on-campus events solely based on their race. Conservative students of color are bullied because progressive groupthink leads minority students to view any political dissidents as traitors or sellouts to their race. What’s more, this bullying is widely viewed as acceptable by the same progressives who think that any viewpoints aside from their own are offensive. All the lessons on racial equality and acceptance that progressive students supposedly abide by are thrown out the window when dealing with “shady people of color,” a fancy name for nonwhite students who hold different opinions than they do. Pitzer College’s recently appointed Communications Secretary called for a ban on the Claremont Independent and asked, “Why not ban Steven Glick from even writing all together [sic],” whatever that’s supposed to mean. It’s no surprise that students act in this manner, since administrators openly endorse this sort of behavior. Yet, if you listen to the rhetoric coming from most students at the 5Cs, you’d have the story backwards and believe that white conservative students are the ones perpetuating racism against students of color on campus.

The reason our stories are so much more successful than those of any other 5C publication is that we are the only paper that actually reports on what life is like in Claremont. Rather than pushing some speculative narrative about how upper-middle class, white, cisgender STEM majors are trying to oppress or silence their fellow students, we report on direct actions taken by student government officials, professors, and administrators to punish those who do not agree with them. We report on issues that the TSL staff doesn’t consider newsworthy, and most of the time they are the ones who feel compelled to respond to us.

Many of our detractors complain about our use of social media and emails to the student body to obtain information, but the information presented in those outlets is exactly what makes our stories so accurate. People are more honest when they don’t think anyone is listening, and the message someone sends to a large audience (such as all students at Pitzer College) always provides a better picture of the ideas they wish to project than a quote given to a single writer representing the Independent.

The Independent serves many purposes on our campuses: we provide a place for students to express right-leaning or alternative opinions, we inspire dialogue regarding controversial events, and we keep students informed about all of the events TSL is too politically correct to write about. But perhaps most importantly, we let the rest of the world know what is happening in Claremont. National media outlets routinely pick up our articles because of the fact that we share the most interesting stories. Every article we write provides clear evidence exposing our peers for what they are: censorious, bigoted, oversensitive bullies. And the country is taking notice.

 

Steven Glick, Editor-in-Chief

Taylor Schmitt, Publisher

Jose Ruiz, Managing Editor

Why I Haven’t Enjoyed Claremont

When I came to Claremont, I hoped to find a loving community and an extended family. Unfortunately, what I found instead is an environment in which professing a commitment to social activism is often more important to my fellow students than actually connecting with the people around them. Many of my progressive classmates concern themselves with berating their peers for their ostensible insensitivity or privilege, rather than with expressing sensitivity to each other.

I have a message for these students: Expecting others to accept your conception of morality—one in which tolerance and acceptance are supposedly paramount—while treating dissenters with disdain is hypocrisy at its finest. You are trying to show people how to better society, which is admirable, but you have forgotten that a better society must start with ourselves. Society is not some vague entity – it is all around us in our dorms, in our classes, and in our libraries. If we are to demand that others embrace certain ideals, we are obligated to take on these same ideals ourselves and live them out as fully as possible.

When we willfully ignore this obligation, however, our community suffers. Deep and lasting relationships are no longer possible; instead, our relationships depend upon whether or not we agree with each other ideologically. When activism becomes more important than establishing sincere, genuine connections with people from different ideological backgrounds, no reasons remain for listening to those who cannot help our political goals. We thus become indignant of even respectful dissent, blinded by a sense of moral superiority that deems any disagreement a moral violation. In this way, we dehumanize each other based on ideology and create a highly judgmental culture that absolves us from needing to treat each other with respect and or consider alternative perspectives.

This last point is what most upsets me about the Claremont community. Students encourage each other to believe that highlighting the immorality of others is of far greater importance than actually practicing the values which they claim a person must support, accept, and live by in order to be morally good.  How can we improve ourselves if we see only good in ourselves and our opinions and only evil in those who deviate from our worldview? How can we become better people if we rarely place ourselves in a position to contemplate our wrongs? The fact is that no one is perfect, consistent, or correct all of the time, and rather than becoming indignant and aggressive when faced with dissent, students should do better for the community and for themselves by showing each other sincere kindness and understanding.

Activism should not strangle our relationships or limit the compassion we show to others.  If it does, the activism which truly matters—the radical task of loving and accepting one another in spite of our differences—will be left behind, and we will have lost sight of what’s truly important.