education not penalization

Stop College Administration From Unjustly Punishing Student Activists

Claremont McKenna College is currently investigating and attempting to discipline student activists for their alleged participation in a nonviolent campus protest of a talk by Heather MacDonald at the College on April 6, 2017. MacDonald had previously published books that support and justify the hyper-criminalization and extrajudicial killings of Black folks, which made students concerned for their safety and lead to the campus protest.

The College is considering suspending or expelling current students and delaying the degrees of the students who recently graduated. The students previously made an appeal to the College to address its issues with the student protest by meeting with students and discussing the concerns of all parties. The College has refused to meet with students. Their disciplinary conduct hearings are set for Monday, June 19th.

The students have issued the following statement:

We, the students currently being charged with conduct violations, are glad for the opportunity to share our situation with you. We trust that our community will see through the recent demonization of student protesters in the media, and recognize our humanity. We hope that you will agree that the educational mission of Claremont McKenna College is betrayed if students are punished, harmed, and silenced for nonviolently exercising their rights to free expression and free association.

Please note the context surrounding the April 6 protest against Heather MacDonald. We entered this semester with a new President in the White House—a man who has incited hatred and violence against marginalized groups, particularly Muslims, immigrants, and people of color. Hate crimes against these groups have been on the rise nationally, and it was only a matter of time before we felt the effects of this political climate on our own campus. Between the months of February and March 2017, we experienced the deaths of two students of color at the Claremont Colleges. Most of us knew them. They were beloved members of our communities and losing them deeply impacted us.

Given this context, it is unsurprising that over 200 students from across the 5Cs came together against Heather MacDonald’s talk. In the wake of two friends dying on campus, students sought to protect their communities from the racist rhetoric of a woman whose scholarship justifies the extrajudicial killings of Black folks and other violence against marginalized groups.

And yet, in the midst of such pain and violence, the April 6 protest was entirely peaceful. At no time were students informed that their protest could lead to discipline. At no time were students asked to disperse. Before and during the protest, the College gave students the impression that they were properly exercising their right to free speech. In fact, Dean Uvin stated in an interview with the CMC Forum that, “I must begrudgingly give the students some credit because they avoided the destruction of property and any outright violence, even at points where it got pretty tense.”

We continue to ask the administration to engage in a productive, inclusive dialogue with us, instead of investigating us through a punitive process that has caused an immense emotional and mental burden on all of us since the investigation began a month and a half ago. All we want is to feel safe on our own campus and to make this institution safer for students of all marginalized identities. We would like to work with the administration on this, as many of us have done in the past year. Please contact the College, sign our petition and share this site in support of our demand that we not be subjected to any discipline for the April 6th protest. Thank you for your support.