Tag Archives: Protest

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.

28 Scripps Professors Will Protest Madeleine Albright’s Commencement Speech

Yesterday’s issue of The Student Life contained an open letter, signed by twenty-eight Scripps faculty members, criticizing the selection of former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to deliver the commencement speech at Scripps College this May.

“As concerned Scripps faculty members, we are outraged at the selection of Madeleine Albright as the 2016 Commencement speaker and will not participate in this year’s graduation ceremony,” the professors write. “Our opposition to her speaking at commencement, however, has to do with her record during her service as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and U.S. Secretary of State.”

The professors condemn Albright for supporting sanctions on Iraq, for removing UN troops from Rwanda (Albright has stated, “My deepest regret from my years in public service is the failure of the United States and the international community to act sooner to halt these crimes), and for advocating for the U.S. bombing of Yugoslavia.

The letter adds that, “As a member of the Clinton administration, Albright was crucial in the crafting of ‘Plan Colombia,’ which funneled billions of dollars in aid to the country, 80 percent of which took the form of military aid to security forces, during a time when those forces were linked to right-wing paramilitary organizations.”

The faculty members also oppose having Albright speak at graduation because they don’t feel she’s done enough over the course of her career that is in ideological accordance with the demands Scripps students came up with last semester to encourage “unlearning.”

“The selection of Albright as the 2016 Commencement speaker runs counter to the spirit of student activism during fall 2015, which resulted in the demand to address institutional racism, among other forms of barred access,” the professors write. “As a women’s liberal arts college, we should promote the advancement of women and transgender peoples broadly and not simply emulate and celebrate those individuals who participate in U.S. state power and wield its violence. Representing the category of ‘woman’ in this way evacuates feminism of its anti-racist, anti-paternalistic, and anti-imperialist potential to address those lives that are systematically made vulnerable to sickness and death.”

The professors conclude their email by demanding they be included in the commencement speaker selection process rather than leaving that decision up to students. “With respect to the process for commencement speaker selection, it is our understanding that the selection is currently left in the hands of the senior class leadership with no input from faculty or other community members,” the letter states. “Because the commencement speaker is representative not only of the current senior class but also of the broader Scripps community, the process of selection should be reconsidered to better reflect Scripps values and commitments. In consideration of Scripps values and of our commitments to students and the institution, we will not be walking in graduation this year in protest of Albright’s presence.”

Scripps Dean: Writing #Trump2016 is ‘Harassment,’ ‘Intimidation’

Last week, Scripps College’s Student Body President, Minjoo Kim, sent an email to the Scripps community describing a “racist incident” that occurred on campus. “A Mexican-American Scripps student woke up to find her whiteboard vandalized with the phrase: ‘#trump2016’.” A similar incident occurred at Emory University where students felt frightened and disturbed after pro-Donald Trump chalkings appeared on campus with the phrase “#trump2016.”

“This racist act is completely unacceptable. Regardless of your political party, this intentional violence committed directly to a student of color proves to be another testament that racism continues to be an undeniable problem and alarming threat on our campuses,” the email continues. “Campus Safety has been notified and we hope to find the person responsible so they can be held accountable for their actions.”

“This is not the inclusive, safe, and welcoming community that we have been striving so hard to create,” notes Kim. “Actions and words have consequences. Think before you act.”

Dean Charlotte Johnson also addressed the incident with a school-wide email.

“Scripps respects the First Amendment rights of its community members, and students who wish to advocate for a political candidate may certainly do so pursuant to all relevant policies and procedures,” Johnson writes. “However, while it is true that under most circumstances the mere iteration of a presidential candidate’s name would not be regarded as a form of harassment or intimidation, the circumstances here are unique.”

She further describes the “circumstances” by stating, “Given that the Scripps incident targeted a Mexican-American, who was the only student in her residence hall to discover the message on her door, the negative reaction registered by many members of the community is understandable and far from extreme. As all who have experienced can confirm, racist acts and intimidation are not always overt. But, for their targets such acts are always disconcerting.”

Dean Johnson ends her email by declaring, “We are all responsible for ensuring the Scripps community is a safe place for everyone.”

The Scripps Guide to Student Life makes no mention of any policies pertaining to whiteboards. Students in all dorms are given public whiteboards placed outside or on their doors, and many leave markers for other students to write on their board with.

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Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Scripps Students, Faculty: Protest Madeleine Albright Because She is a ‘White Feminist’

Recently, the Office of the President at Scripps College sent out an email informing the student body that former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright will be the commencement speaker this spring. “We proudly welcome Dr. Albright to Scripps College and eagerly anticipate a glimpse of the person ‘behind the position’ in her history-making role as America’s first female Secretary of State.”

Several students were upset by the decision to invite Dr. Albright to speak at graduation. An article in The Student Life (TSL) described Albright as a “white feminist and repeated genocide enabler” because she removed UN peacekeepers and U.S. troops from Rwanda and supported military intervention in the Balkans.

Many other students were concerned by the fact that Albright is white, and expressed their sentiments on social media. “2012 and like 2008 appeared to be people of color. but also SO MANY white women,” a student stated.

“*Just out of curiosity* does anyone know how many POC we’ve had as guest commencement speakers at Scripps? 2…3?” asked another student. “real question. real problem,” responded a student who previously stated that she was “fulfilling life dreams” when she saw white feminist Nancy Pelosi speak at Scripps in February.

One student even called for a protest of the event. “With Madeline [sic] Albright being our commencement speaker (and a war criminal and a white feminist) I know some of our professors are refusing to be on stage. I was wondering if any of the students were planning a protest or perhaps some sort of show of disagreement with Albright and what she stands for?”

Not all students were angry that Albright was invited to give the commencement speech. “Having the opportunity to listen to Madeleine Albright speak during commencement is something graduating students, and Scripps students in general, should be appreciative of,” Olivia Wu (SC ’19) told the Claremont Independent. “Seeing negative reactions about her visit just because of her race is honestly ridiculous when considering her achievements.”

Scripps students did not appear to protest when Angela Davis, a leader of the Communist Party USA and member of the Black Panther Party—who was on the FBI’s Top Ten Most Wanted list for murder and kidnapping—spoke on campus earlier this year. The event, titled “Radical Acts: A Conversation with Angela Davis” described Davis as “a one-time Communist party candidate and champion for prison reform” who is “an outspoken advocate for the oppressed and exploited, writing on black liberation, prison abolition, the intersections of race, gender, and class, and international solidarity with Palestine.”

Scripps’ commencement will take place at the Elm Tree Lawn on Saturday, May 14.

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Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Scripps Students Demand Required Anti-Oppression Training “To Ensure their Unlearning Process is Continuous”

Yesterday, students from Scripps College issued a list of demands to the school administration. “As a collective of students who recognize movements here, and globally, we are calling upon increased action to combat institutional racism and oppression,” the students write. “Together, we have written the following list of proposed actions with the faith that our institution, Scripps College, will honor its commitment to institutional change that centers diversity and inclusivity.”

We Demand: The appointment of a Vice President of Institutional Diversity who will supervise and assess the diversity and inclusion efforts in all Staff, Faculty, Administration, and Student realms of the college,” the list begins. “We demand that students are able to help shape what this position will include, as well as be voting members on the hiring committee. We demand that the Board of Trustees Ad Hoc Committee on Diversity and Inclusion become a standing committee.” The students feel that the creation of this position “is one of the first steps in establishing an institution of checks and balances and accountability for the college on issues of diversity and inclusion.”

The students also demand that the Sustained Dialogues Initiative end. “Sustained Dialogue Campus Network methods solely depend on utilizing marginalized student experience to catalyze discussions even at the risk of retraumatizing minority participants,” they write. “In addition to this, in trainings focused on gaining facilitation skills, all participants are certified as discussion facilitators despite having openly proven themselves to be complicit in racism, classism, ableism and other modes of oppression. This indiscriminate certification process is just one example of the ways that Sustained Dialogues fails to protect, support, and center students of color.”

Further, the list calls for “mandatory Anti-Oppression Trainings” for faculty, staff, and students. The students propose that their classmates should not be able to register for classes each semester unless they attend anti-oppression training “to ensure their unlearning process is continuous.”

“Frameworks of the occasional, optional trainings offered to faculty, administration, staff and students to promote inclusion are not focused on explicitly naming and addressing facets of oppression and the intersections between them (including, but not limited to: racism, classism, ableism, homophobia etc),” the students state. “Scripps has a history of using its seemingly ‘progressive and paradisiacal’ nature to avoid addressing, naming, and putting systems in place so that our community can begin to explicitly unlearn the ways in which we are complicit in structural and interpersonal violence.”

Additionally, the list of demands includes a request for modifications to Scripps’ CORE curriculum. “CORE 1 has continually failed to aptly educate Scripps students on the topics of Race, Ethnicity, and Gender,” the students write. “Students should be learning about modern manifestations of systemic violence including but not limited to: gentrification, police brutality, military industrial complex, xenophobia, immigration, prison industrial complex, food deserts, and sexual assault on college campuses.”

The students also demand “the hiring of an on-campus therapist experienced in healing and processing racial based trauma,” as well as “A policy of accommodations for students that experience racial-based trauma, equal to accommodations given to disabled students.”

“Racially traumatized students are put in unsafe spaces,” the students write. “Institutional racialized violence creates no room for students to have healing time for their race-based trauma. These students are forced to encounter the same perpetrators and discriminators—who may be fellow peers, faculty, and administration—thus retraumatizing these students as they are in hostile environments (ie. residential halls, classrooms, dining commons).”

The list also calls for “the removal of SAT/ACT/Standardized Testing from the admissions process” because “SATs/ACTs are strongly biased against low-income students and students of color, at a time when diversity is critical to our mission statement and campus climate.” The students state, “Removing the SAT/ACT requirement for admission makes Scripps more accessible to populations who would otherwise be isolated from applying.”

In addition, the students demand “The establishment of an intercollegiate department for Indigenous Studies and Disability Studies, respectively.” The students note, “Course curriculum that reflects diverse lived experiences is important in boosting retention rates and creating individuals with inclusive excellence.”

The students also call for “increased scholarship and support” for illegal immigrants due to the fact that “California has one of the largest undocumented populations and Scripps should be responsive to the demands in the immediate geographical community by supporting undocumented/DACAmented students pursuing higher education.”

“Every other college in the consortium has at least one undocumented/DACAmented student and have explicit policies for admitting undocumented/DACAmented students,” the students write. “Scripps should follow suit and implement an official policy to ensure that undocumented/DACAmented students are able to attend and succeed at Scripps to resist subjugation for people who cannot obtain legal citizenship.”

The list of demands closes with a call for the abolishment of the 7C Demonstration policy. “We Demand: A repeal of the 7C Demonstration policy in all of its forms and a statement that acknowledges the institutional violence of endorsing the policy at all,” the students write. “Demonstrations are by nature disruptive, so these policies discourage students from protesting at all with the threat of both police force and academic consequences. When considering which students are more likely to protest or need to protest, these policies disproportionately target students of color and marginalized students.”

Scripps Associated Students (SAS) will hold an open forum to discuss these demands at the Motley on December 1.