November 13, 2015

A STUDENT NEWSPAPER, THE CLAREMONT INDEPENDENT, STANDS UP: We Dissent:

The student protests that have swept through Claremont McKenna College (CMC) over the past few days—and the ensuing fallout—have made us disappointed in many of those involved.

First, former Dean Mary Spellman. We are sorry that your career had to end this way, as the email in contention was a clear case of good intentions being overlooked because of poor phrasing. However, we are disappointed in you as well. We are disappointed that you allowed a group of angry students to bully you into resignation. We are disappointed that you taught Claremont students that reacting with emotion and anger will force the administration to act. We are disappointed that when two students chose to go on a hunger strike until you resigned, you didn’t simply say, “so what?” If they want to starve themselves, that’s fine—you don’t owe them your job. We are disappointed that you and President Chodosh put up with students yelling and swearing at you for an hour. You could have made this a productive dialogue, but instead you humored the students and allowed them to get caught up in the furor.

Above all, we are disappointed that you and President Chodosh weren’t brave enough to come to the defense of a student who was told she was “derailing” because her opinions regarding racism didn’t align with those of the mob around her. Nor were you brave enough to point out that these protesters were perfectly happy to use this student to further their own agenda, but turned on her as soon as they realized she wasn’t supporting their narrative. These protesters were asking you to protect your students, but you didn’t even defend the one who needed to be protected right in front of you.

Second, President Chodosh. We were disappointed to see you idly stand by and watch students berate, curse at, and attack Dean Spellman for being a “racist.” For someone who preaches about “leadership” and “personal and social responsibility,” your actions are particularly disappointing. You let your colleague, someone who has been helping your administration for the past three years and the college for six years, be publicly mocked and humiliated. Why? Because you were afraid. . . .

We are adults, and we need to be mature enough to take ownership of and responsibility for our feelings, rather than demanding that those around us cater to our individual needs. The hypocrisy of advocating for “safe spaces” while creating an incredibly unsafe space for President Chodosh, former Dean Spellman, the student who was “derailing,” and the news media representatives who were verbally abused unfortunately seemed to soar over many of your heads.

Lastly, we are disappointed in students like ourselves, who were scared into silence. We are not racist for having different opinions. We are not immoral because we don’t buy the flawed rhetoric of a spiteful movement. We are not evil because we don’t want this movement to tear across our campuses completely unchecked.

We are no longer afraid to be voices of dissent.

Good. And read the whole thing, which is just terrific.

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