Tag Archives: Trigger Warnings

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.”

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

Scripps “Unofficial Survival Guide” Legitimizes “A General Distaste or Hatred of White People”

Over the summer of 2015, two Scripps College students spent approximately 500 hours creating the “Unofficial Scripps Survival Guide.” The 217-page guide, intended to help new students acclimate to the college, features lengthy discussions of topics ranging from food and money management to gender identity, race, and privilege.

The authors state that the term “Preferred Gender Pronoun” (PGP) should be replaced with “Gender Pronoun” to avoid offending students whose gender identity differs from their biological sex. “While it may seem new and positive, PGP is actually not a good thing,” they write. “There’s nothing wrong with Gender Pronouns! However once we say ‘preferred’ we’re invalidating the entire idea. How people identify is how they identify; it is not a ‘preference.’” Another section dedicated to being a “Trans* Ally” prompts new Scripps students to ask for each of their peers’ gender pronouns in order to avoid unwittingly enforcing the gender binary when they interact with others. The guide also sets forth what is required to become an authentic “ally” to marginalized groups: “Enacting a life of accountability and ownership over your own domination and privileges is the only way you can exhibit allyship.”

The Scripps Survival Guide defines “White Privilege” as “the set of unearned benefits white people gain as a result of systematic racism and discrimination” that “benefits even those white people who are disadvantaged by other forms of institutionalized oppression like ableism, classism, sexism, homophobia, and transphobia.” The authors add that “asking people of color to educate us about racism,” “asking people of color to absolve us of our guilt,” and “identifying the ways that we are engaging in the perpetuation of white supremacy” are all things that “we need to stop doing right now.” In a section titled “Dear white students,” the authors explain that “[r]everse racism cannot exist because white people maintain power over people of color” and “because there are no institutions that were founded with the intention of discriminating against white people on the basis of their skin [color].”

Since the guide’s publication, several student movements across the 5Cs, including a “Hurting and Healing” event held by The 5C Students of Color Alliance, have advocated for racially segregated spaces (called “Safe Spaces”) which are off-limits to white students. The Motley, a student run café on Scripps’ campus, has already held events exclusively for people of color. The guide justifies this segregation by speaking to the “political” and “harm[ful]” nature of the “space” for people of color, as well as by arguing that creating segregated spaces is simply “the least we can do” for non-white students. Throughout the sections regarding racism, the authors of the guide agree that “a general distaste or hatred of white people” is a legitimate response to “oppression.”

Sections of the Survival Guide addressing “Mindful Language” and “Inclusive Language” tell students to watch what they say inside the classroom, identifying “capitalism and consumerism” as concepts which “can lead to [the] dangerous promotion of certain ideals and widespread circulation of stigmatizing information.” The guide also castigates “those who oppose trigger warnings,” accusing these people of being uncaring and “potentially sexist, ableist, homophobic, racist, classist, etc.”

The survival guide also roundly condemns ableist language, denouncing the use of words like “insane” and “stupid” as “using disability as a metaphor to describe something negative” and “reinforcing [the idea] that mentally ill people shouldn’t be listened to, believed, or valued.” Students also are urged to use the term “differently abled” rather than “disabled” when referring to those with physical disabilities because “differently abled” represents the idea that “disabled people are just as valid as everyone else” and that “being disabled in a [sic] ableist world means lack of power and access.” The authors conclude the section by urging students to replace words such as “crazy,” “dumb,” and “stupid” with words like “unruly,” “moody,” and “dismantled.” The authors also advise against describing young people as “kids” or “teens,” observing that such terms are “patronizing” because of how they “belittle and demean young people’s power” and play into the assumption that “teens are incapable of certain leadership roles or don’t have the mental capacity/self control/understanding to articulate or make good decisions.”

Though the Survival Guide is unofficial, administrators at Scripps College have expressed support for it. “This student-conceived and student-authored publication is an excellent example of how serious Scripps students are about supporting the newest members of the Scripps community,” stated Charlotte Johnson, Scripps’ Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students, who recently described the phrase “#Trump2016” as “racism” and “intimidation.”

Edit: An earlier version of this story misquoted the survival guide’s suggestions for addressing white privilege.

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Image: Scripps College