Tag Archives: Safe Spaces

Claremont Students Plan to Protest ‘Anti-Black Fascist’ Heather Mac Donald

Students at the Claremont Colleges plan to protest and “shut down” a speech by prominent political commentator Heather Mac Donald tonight. Mac Donald, a member of the Manhattan Institute and a contributing editor of City Journal, is scheduled to give a speech at Claremont McKenna College’s Marian Miner Cook Athenaeum.

A photo of the students’ call to protest.

According to the event’s description on the Athenaeum’s website, “The Black Lives Matter movement holds that the U.S. is experiencing an epidemic of racially-driven police shootings, and that policing is shot through with systemic bias. Contending that the central Black Lives Matter narrative is not just false but dangerous, Heather Mac Donald will explore the data on policing, crime, and race and argue that policing today is driven by crime, not race, and that the movement has caused officers to back off of proactive policing in high crime areas, leading to the largest spike in nearly 50 years, disproportionately affecting blacks.”

Student protestors plan to “shut down” the event. “Anti-Black ‘scholar’ Heather Mac Donald has been invited to speak at Claremont McKenna College,” states the protest’s Facebook page. “Join the action with students of color at the Claremont Colleges to shut her down!!”

A Facebook event titled, “Shut Down Anti-Black Fascist Heather Mac Donald” and hosted by “ShutDown Anti-BlackFascists” encourages students to protest the event because Mac Donald “condemns [the] Black Lives Matter movement,” “supports racist police officers,” and “supports increasing fascist ‘law and order.’”

“Heather Mac Donald has been vocally against the Black Lives Matter movement and pro-police, both of which show her fascist ideologies and blatant anti-Blackness and white supremacy,” the Facebook page adds. “Let’s show CMC that having this speaker is an attack on marginalized communities both on campus and off. Together, we can hold CMC accountable and prevent Mac Donald from spewing her racist, anti-Black, capitalist, imperialist, fascist agenda.”

The protest organizers do not state specifically how they plan to “shut down” Mac Donald’s lecture, though they do urge students who attend to carry posters, wear black, and “Bring your comrades, because we’re shutting this down.”

Follow the Claremont Independent on Facebook for live coverage of the protests.

 

CMC Funds Racially Exclusive Program to Fight Racism

On January 25, Vince Greer – the Assistant Dean of Students for Diversity and Inclusion at Claremont McKenna College (CMC) – distributed the following message to the students, faculty and staff of the college:

“Dear CMC community, The Cultural Influences on Mental Health Center at CMC is offering a FREE 8-week compassionate meditation program for ethnic minority students to learn how to heal from racism- and race-related incidents. Students must identify as an ethnic minority, must have experienced race-related stress, and must have attended one of the Claremont Colleges for at least one semester. If you meet these requirements and are in need of such services, you are eligible to sign up!” [emphasis original.]

Dean Greer’s email continues to state that while Professor Wei-Chin Hwang will head the  healing program, it will be “co-led by two students.” Hwang is a tenured, full-time professor of psychology at Claremont McKenna College with expertise in “Cultural Competency” and “Race & Social Problems.” Greer’s email to the community closes by making clear that the Institutional Review Board (IRB) of Claremont McKenna has approved the program.

Many students have expressed concerns about the racial exclusivity of the program. Shawn McFall, (CMC ’18), the President of the Claremont College Republicans, told the Independent, “I find it disturbing that school funding is supporting a cause which excludes the majority of CMC students. Too many school programming centers which claim to represent and foster diversity have become mere tools for exclusion.”

Alex Ohlendorf (CMC ’18) told the Independent, “It is troubling to see that CMC, an institution which just last year saw widespread movements against racism on campus, has approved and funded an event that specifically denies students the opportunity to participate on the basis of ethnicity. By creating such segregated programs, administrators only encourage political polarization and prevent dialogue.”

Following the above-mentioned protests at Claremont McKenna College in late 2015, President Hiram Chodosh wrote publicly that “We must ensure that each of our students shares a deep sense of belonging to the CMC community. Thus, I am committed to developing a thoughtful, productive, and responsible inclusion strategy, where every student is fully engaged and valued… No student or group on our campus should live and learn in isolation.”

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Image: Flickr

After the Election: Trump, Clinton, and the Death of Dialogue

No matter which candidate wins tonight’s presidential election, the American people have already lost. This isn’t because both Secretary Clinton and Mr. Trump are poor choices; as I have written before, I think Secretary Clinton would make an excellent president. Rather, the American people are losing because we’ve lost the ability to communicate with each other

It is easier than ever today to entomb oneself in an echo chamber. Schools today are more homogeneous than ever, social media allows for the selective consumption of news, and political gerrymandering has created an environment in which likeminded individuals are lumped together in the same congressional district. In our society, there are now far fewer places in which dialogue between differently minded groups can occur and our dysfunctional schools, bottom-line-focused media, and politically drawn legislative districts exacerbate this trend. Trump supporters and Clinton supporters no longer have access to fora in which they can communicate with each other; instead Trump supporters instinctively distrust all things Clinton and Clinton supporters condescend to all things Trump, including his supporters. Have you recently had a respectful conversation with someone who supports a candidate other than your own? American politics has always been rancorous, but this death of dialogue has created a new level of polarization.

Polarization has also gridlocked our legislature—the most recently completed 113th Congress was the second-least productive in history, second only to the 112th Congress. And as our legislative branch has been crippled, the presidency has been endowed with unprecedented levels of power. The president can now effectively unilaterally declare war thanks to the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), can effectively enact treaties with a simple majority vote in the Senate rather than having to cobble together a supermajority thanks to the rise and acceptance of so-called congressional-executive agreements, and can wantonly choose which laws to enforce due to lax applications of the Constitution’s Take Care Clause.

This inflation of presidential powers has only served to further exacerbate the polarization in the country. Suddenly, a President Trump could by himself decide to send troops into Syria thanks to the AUMF or withdraw from NAFTA without congressional approval since it’s a congressional-executive agreement and not a treaty. A President Clinton could decide to cease all deportation immediately now that the Constitution’s Take Care Clause is no longer enforced. With so much power endowed to one individual, voters can no longer risk listening to and electing someone who doesn’t share their party line.

So how can this polarization be overcome? The only way forward is to repair basic American institutions so that they promote dialogue between those of differing views. First, colleges should try to enroll politically diverse student bodies and actively promote civic discussion among them, not focus all of their attention onto the proliferation of safe spaces. As a liberal college student myself, I was drawn to write for this publication because of the diversity of political and social views that are professed in its articles and the dialogue it fosters on campus, despite the fact that said dialogue can get rather heated at times. The drawing of electoral districts should be delegated to independent committees. Social media should change their algorithms so that users aren’t just fed articles with which they already agree. And people should reflect on the tone of this election and think about how they could have made it just a little less nasty through proactive engagement. Once this occurs, polarization will return to previous levels, the legislature will once again become vibrant and again become a check on the executive office, which will in turn serve to further decrease polarization as presidential elections become less important and thus less nasty. We didn’t accomplish this in time for this election cycle, but hopefully the sheer vitriol of this race will serve as a wakeup call before the next one.

Safe Spaces: Where Free Press Dies

It is unbelievable how freedom of the press, a right our Founding Fathers so cherished, has eroded in a country that prides itself on its liberties. It is unbelievable how the right to cover an open event, which freedom of the press entails, cannot be practiced on college campuses.

Last week, while trying to cover an open event discussing the role of the Asian-American and Pacific Islander (API) community in the Black Lives Matter movement, hosted by Pomona College’s Asian American Resource Center (AARC)—which considers itself a “safe space”—I uncovered the sad state of free press at Pomona College. I was hoping to objectively cover this event, to bring out the little-known viewpoints of the API community on the Black Lives Matter movement. This hope was greeted by resentment and hostility, and I left with one message: Freedom of the press does not belong, and is not welcome, in safe spaces.

The process of stifling free press begins right as a journalist walks through the doors into the safe space. While I was initially welcomed when I asked if I could record the event and take notes, further questioning revealed I was trying to cover the event for a student-run publication. Even then, the event facilitators extended their warm welcome, until it was brought to light that this student-run publication was The Claremont Independent, a conservative-leaning paper. No more warm welcome and no more recording allowed, but I was still permitted to take notes.

The death blow of free press in this “safe space” struck later, when I started to take notes on my laptop just as the event began. As I finished typing my second line of notes, I was informed that note-taking would only be permitted if it was approved by all participants of the event—if even one participant objected to my note-taking, I would not be allowed to take notes. Unsurprisingly, after a blindfold vote, at least one person voted against note-taking, and I was told to stop taking notes. I was told that taking notes made participants uncomfortable, and that I should respect the AARC as a “safe space.” In a subsequent meeting with the director of AARC, I was told the AARC functions primarily as a “safe space” where participants should feel comfortable, and that people’s fears and concerns of an Independent journalist taking notes should be respected in this safe space, adding that the AARC does not want its views advertised to an audience the Independent could reach.

Despite making it clear that speech at this event should make all participants comfortable, attacks on capitalism and “capitalist violence,” the “heteropatriarchal” society, and traits of the “model minority” (like working hard and obeying the law) were left unchecked, without the slightest consideration of whether I, with differing political views, would feel comfortable listening to endless assaults to values which I hold dear. Yet with free press dead, who dares challenge this hypocrisy?

In the college campus “safe space,” with no freedom of the press, there is no check on the lack of ideological diversity, no way for “safe spaces” to promote their messages through an objective third party, and no way for the public to know about and effectively help pressure and protest against the hypocritical “inclusiveness” of safe spaces.

Free press is the restraint that keeps “safe spaces” from becoming “hate spaces” that do not fear whether the stifling of differing views, the silencing of people from different parts of the political spectrum, and the venting and promotion of anger towards certain groups of people, will ever be exposed to and critiqued by the public, where there is no fear whether the public will pressure them to change. Because, without the restraint of free press on safe spaces, the public will simply never know.

Unless safe spaces are made accessible to the free press, journalists need to abide by a new rule concerning reporting in safe spaces: Don’t try. Yet I remain confident, and hopeful, that through the efforts of those who act to uphold our Founding Fathers’ values on college campuses, the rule for journalists will be “Dare to try. Dare to uphold and defend the diversity of opinion, freedom of expression, and freedom of the press.”

Claremont Students Say Masculinity is Hazardous to Mental Health

On Monday night, 5Cs Thrive hosted an event called “Masculinity + Mental Health.” According to the event’s description, the workshop focused on the mental health problems caused by masculinity.

“Masculinity can be extremely toxic to our mental health, both to the people who are pressured to perform it and the people who are inevitably influenced by it,” state the event’s organizers. “We would like to encourage discussion on how to openly talk about our emotions and our wellbeing, and how to engage in masculine identities in a healthy way. Relevant to this discussion is how masculinity can harm our relationships with people and one’s ability to cope when relationships are difficult or end. We want to create a safe and open space where we can talk about masculinity and its various intersections with our identities and experiences.”

5Cs Thrive describes itself as “A safe space for students at the 5c’s to talk about mental health,” and the “Masculinity + Mental Health” event took place at the Rick and Susan Sontag Center for Collaborative Creativity (The Hive). The Hive’s stated mission is “to accelerate the creative development of students across the 5Cs. We do that through Exploration – by creating a safe space to experiment and play, Collaboration – by bringing people with diverse backgrounds and perspectives together to be in the ‘intellectual muck’ together, and through Experiential Learning – thinking by doing.”

The event received some positive feedback on Facebook. One woman, Lizbeth Ramirez, posted, “THANK YOU from the fullness of my heart for having this available for my fellow brothers.”

Miles Robinson (PO ’18), who attended the event, told the Independent  that there was “a common consensus that masculinity is harmful both to those who express it and those affected by it” among attendees. “It was all talk through personal experiences,” stated Robinson. Robinson added that all of the organizers of Thrive—as well most of the attendees of Thrive’s weekly functions—are female, and the group hosted this event in the hopes of getting more men to come.

It seems Thrive’s efforts were not entirely successful, as some students avoided the event out of concern that it would alienate men. “If masculinity is described as something negative—a mental illness—then this is sexism against men,” stated Will Gu (PO ’20) in an email to the Independent. “Safe spaces… are supposed to make everyone feel comfortable. Criticizing masculinity makes males who adhere to traditional gender norms uncomfortable.”

Update: October 4, 2016

Sabine Scott, a leader of the “Masculinity + Mental Health” event, issued the following statement in an email to the Independent:

“Our ‘Masculinity and Mental Health’ event was created with the goal of providing a space to examine to effects of masculinity on mental health. In order to preserve the confidentiality of the space I’m not going to disclose what was discussed, but it was a productive conversation that helped people explore how masculinity impacted each person’s individual experience with mental health. Participants were able to find support in other people who have had similar experiences, and the meeting empowered both the men and women in the meeting to realize how the pressure to conform to stereotypical masculinity can have harmful effects on being able to share emotions and maintain healthy relationships.”

Correction: October 5, 2016

An earlier version of this story stated that 5Cs Thrive was part of the The Hive. A representative from Pomona College stated in an email to the Independent that 5Cs Thrive is not affiliated with The Hive, they just used the venue for their event.