Tag Archives: Scripps

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.

College Presidents Spread False Anti-Trump Narrative to Student Body

Earlier this week, presidents of the five Claremont Colleges joined over thirty peer institutions of higher education in denouncing President Trump’s recent executive order, which halts refugee immigration from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen for 90 days. Trump stated of the executive order, “America is a proud nation of immigrants and we will continue to show compassion to those fleeing oppression, but we will do so while protecting our own citizens and border … The seven countries named in the Executive Order are the same countries previously identified by the Obama administration as sources of terror.” However, the presidents’ emails to their respective student bodies described Trump’s policy as a ban on Muslim immigration.

Pomona College President David Oxtoby, for example, described Trump’s orders as “deeply troubling” examples of “xenophobia” and “religious discrimination.” President Oxtoby stated that “these actions tear at the fabric of who we are and what we aspire to be.” Pitzer College President Melvin Oliver went so far as to say that “President Trump has altered the American experience, and with it the vision of hope and unity previously shared by most of us.”

President Oliver’s statement continues, “three executive orders … have upended our policies of openness and welcoming,” claiming that the orders have “the practical effect of creating a religious ban against people of Muslim faith.” Though Trump’s orders would likely affect only around 200 million of over 1.5 billion Muslims worldwide, President Oliver told the Independent that he believes “America is more beautiful because of its inclusiveness, not despite it.” Oliver stated that “xenophobia – whether targeted at one … or 1.5 billion – goes against America’s founding values,” but did not specify why he thinks Trump’s orders amount to a Muslim ban or what about them is xenophobic.

While noting that Pitzer College, Claremont McKenna College, and Pomona College currently enroll zero students from the seven countries named in the executive order, each of the school presidents made lengthy efforts to reiterate the availability of emotional assistance for students who “feel vulnerable.” President Lara Tiedens of Scripps College ended her own note by stating “We are fortunate to have such a strong network of active, informed, and compassionate individuals who are invested in preserving Scripps as a haven for inclusive excellence,” referencing a December statement naming Scripps “a sanctuary center of higher education” which would follow in the footsteps of Pomona College and Pitzer College to refuse compliance with federal law regarding immigration status.


Image: Flickr

Editorial: The Importance of Free Expression

Free speech on campus has become a growing issue in the US and internationally as traditionally freer countries place more and more restrictions on speech. As students and journalists at the Claremont Colleges, we have seen the negative repercussions of this trend firsthand—in our classrooms, jobs, places of worship, and even in our coffee shops.

It’s sad what this culture has cost the colleges. We live in a community of bright, engaged students, but fear of radical left wing retribution too often stifles conversations before they start. We are fortunate to study under great professors but, going forward, the quality of many of our tenured faculty will be subject to how well a given professor fits into the Social Justice Warrior mold. Even our peers’ charitable efforts fall prey to the expanding reach of political correctness.

It’s our job as students to shape the community here on campus, but the administration has the power to set the tone and step in when our peers or teachers abuse their power. Too often, our administrations are compliant or even complicit in the destruction of our community’s cohesion and intellectual growth.

Yet last Thursday, President Chodosh and Dean Uvin stood up in favor of our rights in an email released to Claremont McKenna College’s student body and alumni. The email outlined the administration’s commitment to protecting free speech on campus, both inside and outside the classroom. By defending students’ and faculty members’ right to think and speak freely, Claremont McKenna College’s administration has made an important pivot away from the increasingly sensitive culture of censorship and toward a more positive academic community. This will serve students well both in Claremont and outside the bubble.

CMC’s announcement is a strong first step, and we’re hopeful that the administration will take this policy seriously in order to provide students with a well-rounded intellectual environment. We now call on the administrations at Pitzer College, Scripps College, Pomona College, and Harvey Mudd College to adopt the University of Chicago’s policies on speech as well. The Claremont Colleges have a great capacity to influence the world around us, but that can’t happen unless we are allowed to grow as thinkers and as people. We cannot overstate the importance of free expression on campus. Without it, education is impossible.

Steven Glick, Editor-in-Chief

Megan Keller, Publisher

Daniel Ludlam, 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.

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.”

Social Justice Warriors Are the Reason Donald Trump Exists

Over the past couple weeks, students at colleges across the country have retreated into their safe spaces to protest the “hate speech” that is Donald Trump’s name. Never to be left out of a big PC trend, the Claremont Colleges have seen plenty of oversensitivity to Trump as well. Students and administrators at both Scripps College and  Pitzer College have referred to the phrases “#Trump2016” and “Make America” as “harassment,” “intimidation,” and “racism,” among other things. What these students seem to be missing is that their outrage is exactly what has made Trump’s candidacy so successful.

Political correctness has reached a point where it is essentially impossible to have an honest, open conversation about sensitive issues. Trump’s rise is nothing more than a direct response to the growing trend of language policing, and nowhere has this pattern of offense-taking victim culture been more evident than right here in Claremont.

At Pomona College, students protested an America-themed party because they felt that it supported “imperialism, violence, and racist power structures.” A mad scientist-themed party was opposed because the student government felt that the party’s name—“Mudd Goes Madd”—“trivializes mental health and disability issues.”

At Pitzer College, the Student Senate rejected a proposed Yacht Club because they thought that the word “yacht” was offensive to low-income students. Just weeks later, that same Student Senate did not approve a student’s request to start a campus branch of the national DreamCatcher Foundation—an organization that helps to give happy experiences to terminally ill hospice patients—because, even though the Student Senators believed that it “seems like a worthy organization in their goals and mission,” they were concerned that the word “DreamCatcher” was a form of cultural appropriation. This despite the fact that the CEO of the national organization is Native American herself.

The administration at Scripps College rescinded its invitation to George Will to speak at the Malott Public Affairs Program, a conservative speaker series intended to provide students with an opportunity to hear viewpoints they disagree with, because they didn’t agree with the conservative views Will expressed in a column he had written for the Washington Post. A cupcake-decorating event at Scripps was criticized for being a “garbage, cis, white event” and  “incredibly violent to trans women,” and students who defended the event were called “racist.” Just a few weeks later, the same on-campus coffee shop that hosted the cupcake event allowed only “people of color and allies that they invite” inside. Minority-only “safe spaces” appeared at Pomona College as well, where students were told that the presence of white students would prevent their nonwhite peers from feeling “safe” and “comfortable.”

The political correctness movement is losing traction because students are growing tired of being told what lecturers they can listen to, what parties they can go to, what clubs they can start, what charities they can support, and how they can decorate their cupcakes.

This same principle applies to most Americans on national political issues. Any opposition to illegal immigration and any efforts to call out radical Islam have been deemed unacceptable by the PC police. Much of Trump’s appeal comes from his brash, unapologetic demeanor and ongoing crudity in the face of public resentment. He maintains his strong views on immigration despite frequently being called a racist by progressives. He is willing to speak out against radical Islamic terror even when his critics try to call him an Islamophobe. He’s the only presidential candidate in American history who can talk about the size of his penis without committing political suicide. The fact that Trump is willing to confront societal taboos and revel in other people’s shock and distaste hits home with those who are tired of rampant PC culture dictating what they can and cannot do with their lives.

Overwhelmingly, Trump is supported by those Americans that feel constantly derided by elites in academia, the media, and Washington, DC. It only confirms Trump’s narrative when students and administrators at some of the most elite, exclusive, and expensive colleges in the country describe the act of writing Trump slogans on campus as “hate crimes” and acts of “violence.” These sorts of reactions communicate to the American working class what Trump has been peddling throughout his campaign: the upper echelons of society find your very presence offensive and they will seek to exclude, or even—in their ideal world—oppress you. How do you imagine that looks to Trump supporters? Every time a social justice warrior tries to call out Donald Trump over supposed bigotry, he, she, they, or ze adds more fuel to the Trump fire. Ah, the irony.



Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

The Flaw in “Flawless”: Beyoncé and the Contradictions in Feminism

Since entering Scripps, I have been told that Beyoncé, Taylor Swift, Hilary Clinton, Emma Watson, P!nk, Meghan Trainor, and Michelle Obama are feminists. I have also been told at separate times, from inside and outside of Scripps, that each of these women is anti-feminist. In class, I have watched risqué videos of women that are widely acclaimed as breakthroughs for the feminist movement, and I have watched these videos in other settings where they are viewed as over-sexualized and degrading. Because of this, I chose to contemplate and explore both the dogma and actions of each “feminist” in depth. I found that these women share very little in common, leading me to believe that “feminism,” as defined by the masses, lacks both consistency and a standard for accountability.

I am not afraid to express the unpopular opinion that I find Beyoncé guilty of using the term “feminism” (capitalistically, which is ironic for her more liberal fans) to box women into an identity that is inescapably sexual. Beyoncé is a self-proclaimed sex symbol, and sex symbols, whether male or female, do not help their respective gender’s cause in terms of equality. Rather, they reduce themselves to physicality, which indubitably becomes a contest of seduction. Case in point: in her song “Flawless,” Beyoncé tells us that women shouldn’t compete for male attention; however, in “Yonce” she sings “Boy this all for you just walk my way, Just tell me it’s lookin’ babe. I do this all for you babe just take aim.” It would seem that even Beyoncé cannot reconcile her definition of feminism with itself. Therefore, how can we expect her message to filter down to her audience correctly? Be openly sensual for men like Beyoncé, but don’t vie for male attention? That’s contradictory.

Many people conflate advancing freedom of expression with advancing feminism. Women can wear whatever they want, as can men, in this country. That is freedom. However, freedom of expression does not by default help the feminist cause. Maybe it did in the early twentieth century, and maybe it is still important in developing countries, but as with most social issues, modern America is addressing different challenges than other parts of the world.

There are many ways in which women can elevate themselves in society, ranging from becoming a single, strong powerhouse to being a good wife. Each has its benefits, and each is equally important. I am not going to constrain feminism by giving into a certain set of rules. What I will say, however, is that being a feminist does not require women to give men what they stereotypically want. Once women do that, they become objectified – just like Beyoncé does to herself in the “Flawless” music video, which features close ups of her butt and not her entire being. In these scenarios, where is the justice for a woman who is being looked at just for her body and not for the simple fact that she is a person?

It is not feminist to be desperate for male attention and then justify it by saying women desire sex, too, and that we have a right to be sexual beings. There is a difference between being sexual and selling oneself. Being a feminist is risking not getting male attention until you meet a guy who respects you. A guy who supports feminism should be in love with who a particular woman is, not how closely she reminds him of the latest Playboy magazine. In a true non-male-dominated society, a woman should never feel that, in order to get attention, she has to show off her body. And herein lies my biggest problem with Beyoncé. Beyoncé gives her audience, especially her young audience, the false idea that feminism is equivalent to sexuality. This erroneous comparison is as harmful to girls and young women as is the idea that women can’t drive, work, or go to college. While many argue that in the finer details, Beyoncé clarifies the difference between feminism and sex, it is still a very fuzzy line. This distinction, if it even does exist within the Beyoncé ideology, is being missed by the majority of people in the world outside of Claremont, probably because Beyoncé sends mixed messages. For instance, while claiming that feminism requires equality of the sexes in “Flawless,” in “Blow” she says, “Bring your work home on top of me. I’m a let you be the boss of me. I know everything you want. Give me that daddy long stroke.” What do we expect 14-year-old girls to get from this? They’re being taught that feminism requires them to look really sexy, put on a show of being domineering and powerful, then ultimately allow themselves to be used by men.

In this way, women have been conditioned to think it is easy to be a feminist. Just do what you want, be sexy, and defy norms. That has truth, but that is not the heart of feminism (it certainly does not describe it in its totality). The heart of feminism is taking a stand against female objectification. We are in the twenty-first century. We have to be smart. We have to think for ourselves and not give into what the media is asking of us if it is unhealthy for women at its core. Now that we have a voice, we need to make sure it is actually helping us and not feeding a patriarchal society under the guise of female liberation.

Yes, being a feminist is hard, and yes, advancing the feminist cause requires different actions in different eras. As modern feminists, if we want to actually help women outside of our college bubble, we have to have a more realistic idea of our audience. In the real world, it is not enough to be a woman who does whatever she wants and then call herself a feminist. We have to look at the consequences of our actions.

Please understand, I am not saying women should cover themselves from head-to-toe to be a feminist, nor am I saying that people who dress “immodestly” are anti-feminist. All I am saying is that it is not enough to put on a certain outfit and say a lot of things and think it’s helping women. That is rash and misguided. We need to think critically in the modern world of feminism and understand what is really helping us defy violence and oppression versus what is just further turning us into sexual objects for the world.

A feminist doesn’t have to cover up. A feminist doesn’t have to not cover up. At its essence, feminism is supposed to look at women as people rather than sexual beings. That doesn’t mean we have to be undesirable, but it doesn’t mean that we have to be the epitome of sexy either. It is free of physicality. Women are people, not toys. What Beyoncé does by showing through her actions that being sexual makes women feminist is actually setting us back to a time when we were all just for sex.

Consequently, we must ask ourselves: How does Scripps portray feminism? What does our Beyoncé-idolization advance for women? Why do some students feel completely unheard in their feminism classes? We need to reevaluate what we want for women in our society versus what we want to do in the moment just because it sounds revolutionary.

Why Malott Matters

Since 2005, a committee composed of several faculty members, alumnae, and students has met every spring to begin work on selecting a conservative speaker to invite to Scripps for the following year. All of this is made possible by the generosity and drive of Elizabeth Hubert Malott (Class of 1953 and Trustee from 1996-2003). Mrs. Hubert Malott cherished her time at Scripps and valued above all else the new ideas, philosophies, and horizons that she was exposed to during her four years at the college. According to her daughter, Liza Malott Pohle, Mrs. Malott’s vision for the conservative speaker series was, “facilitating informed debate, inspiring curiosity and intellectual inquiry, and offering students opportunities to explore topics of national and international interest with visiting speakers offering conservative points of view.”

The committee meticulously plans a rigorous schedule of events for each guest to participate in while spending time at Scripps and the other 5Cs. The Malott series is unique among college speaker programs because it engages each guest in a full day of activities and functions: the honored speaker takes a full tour of the campus and engages in a small group discussion with hand-selected students who are familiar with the speaker’s work. Additionally, the speaker gives a public address in the evening and then attends a reception dinner with student leaders. Previous speakers in the series have included political strategist Mary Matalin (2006), New York Times columnist David Brooks (2011), actor, writer, and conservative pundit Ben Stein (2012), and world-renowned syndicated columnist and author Charles Krauthammer (2013). Peggy Noonan, a conservative speechwriter under the Reagan administration, spoke last year. The speakers consistently walk away from their experiences on campus impressed and hopeful for the future of our undergraduates. For the past few years, the Malott Public Affairs Program has focused on bringing young women to campus in an effort to further inspire the Scripps community from a conservative perspective.

The importance of such a campus speaker series as the Elizabeth Hubert Malott Public Affairs Program has never been clearer. As student bodies across the United States become progressively more liberal with every passing admissions cycle, it is crucial that active conservative pundits, be they journalists, politicians, authors, or strategists, continue to make appearances on campuses. They offer a perspective and experience that differs dramatically from the ubiquitous liberal dialogue of the American higher education system. A 2012 poll showed that only 10 percent of college professors identified as conservative (and this number is dropping) and 0.4 percent identified as “far right.” By contrast, 50 percent of college professors identified as liberal and 15 percent identified as “far left.” With a clear lack of conservative thought taught at colleges today—let alone small liberal arts colleges in Southern California—there has never been a more important time for students to be educated across party lines. Even if the students in question ultimately decide to disagree with the opinions of the speakers, it is important that students have an opportunity to hear all sides of the story directly from the source—which too often they do not.

During my time at Scripps so far, I have been exposed almost exclusively to points of view that range from leftist to so leftist that they make Southern California look conservative. I have only been assigned readings by Ward Churchill, Amy Hollywood, Angela Davis, Howard Zinn, and others like them. There is hardly room for Alexis de Tocqueville, let alone Russell Kirk and Ayn Rand. In my introductory classes, I am not only expected to align with the extremely liberal views of all of my Professors, but also to go about defending these views furiously in written assignments, lest I be graded down for complacency. My experience with Core I is a good example of a course where the extremely linear dialogue taught by my professor offered no space for disagreement from students. I maintain that, though it masquerades in the course catalogue as a class that teaches “critical thinking,” in reality it is anything but that. This semester, I am having a somewhat similar experience in my seminar class on Gender and Religion at Pomona. The extremely ‘academic’ dialogue I’ve been offered provides notions about gender as we know it being entirely molded by society, and the ‘West’ acting as the ultimate evil colonizer of the world. There is no room for disagreement with the likes of the renowned Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies scholars within the world of modern day academia.

Although at times the institution-wide attack on conservatism (in class, in guest-lectures, in the divestment movements across all the campuses) that I have experienced since beginning college has been hostile and disheartening, in reality it has encouraged me to strengthen my own depth of knowledge with regard to my personal beliefs. For all of my beliefs that fall toward a more centrist, or leftist political stance, I am applauded and encouraged. For my other opinions, I have been given the really unique opportunity to think about them more critically than I ever have before. As someone who has lived her entire life aware of the conservative political perspective and some of what it might entail, when I walk out of classes I know that there is always another side of the story worth pursuing. Only after hearing every available perspective do I feel informed enough to formulate an opinion of my own—surprise, most days I am still a conservative. My point, however, is that as young minds we are entitled to the autonomy that is required to decipher for ourselves our own opinions—something that Claremont takes away from us by presenting only one half of the available dialogue.

Ultimately, the problem with having such a one-sided academic environment on our campuses is that students, whether liberal, conservative, or anywhere in the middle are simply not being given the full story on any political matter. I implore liberal-minded students to attend Mrs. Bush’s talk to listen to opinions that differ from their own. Political discussion and debate are an integral part of any classroom environment. But first, students must be at least somewhat informed about both perspectives. By way of the Malott Speaker Series, Scripps presents the conservative side of the debate to the public. It is undoubtedly a valuable experience—every now and again—to hear an eloquently articulated opinion that is not your own, in an effort to stay as fully informed and cognizant as possible.