Members of the Dean of Students and Administrative offices spoke at Senate on Monday and answered questions about the administrative response to the Heather Mac Donald protests. Assistant Vice President for Strategic Initiatives and CMC Alum Dianna Graves led the discussion alongside Assistant Dean of Students & Director of Student Activities Devon MacIver. They clarified CMC’s protest policy and discussed how controversial speakers might be handled in the future.
Graves began by summarizing the decisions taken by the administration leading up to and during the protest. Although the school had known about the protest and reached out to Campus Safety and Claremont Police Department, the number of students demonstrating rendered the preparations inadequate. As students barricaded the entrances, the administration considered calling reinforcements, but “it was ultimately determined in consultation with the Claremont Police Department that any sort of forcible removal of students at that juncture given the numbers and sort of the frenzy of the protest was going to be dangerous,” Graves said. “So, a decision was made at that point to not take that course of action and rather live stream the presentation. That presentation ended up being viewed in live by about 250 people, and that has subsequently been viewed over 2,000 times.”
Graves then briefed Senate that CMC would be using footage and photographs from the event to identify students who were in violation of policies, and there will be the normal conduct process. “You bring people in, there’s an investigation, there’s a finding, a responsibility or not responsibility, and there are sanctions,” she said. “We will be going through that process over the next several weeks.” Cases of students from other campuses will be adjudicated on their home campus.
According to Graves, the goal at CMC is to allow talks to happen, so some steps will be taken to ensure programming at the Ath continues as planned in the upcoming weeks.
MacIver said there was a lack of programming to offer a counterpoint in a productive way. He gave examples of policy-compliant protests such as allowing the students who had prepared to sit at the head table or walk out. MacIver than asked several questions about the prestige and legitimizing power of the Ath, and whether there needed to be more scrutiny about speakers. “All of these are questions that I don’t really see us asking,” MacIver said. And when there is another contentious speaker, hopefully “we’ll have had these conversations as a community, and hopefully the rallying cry will be to present the opposite side of the argument rather than attacking something to shut down speech in general.”
The floor opened for questions, some asked by students in person and others through an anonymous messaging form. Many questions centered around how the deans are protecting free speech of speakers and protestors alike. Both MacIver and Graves emphasized that protests are allowed and welcomed, but blocking access to a building is not. Additionally, any allegations of policy violations will be investigated and processed. A full live stream of the question and answer session is on ASCMC’s Facebook page; questions start at 12:00.
In weekly updates, class presidents are soliciting feedback on quad-specific Snapchat geo-filters, and the Student Engagement Committee presented a survey to ask students their perception of and preferences for ASCMC. Senior Erica Rawles’ request for $290 to print her thesis on 24 yards of fabric and exhibit it at the Art Thesis Show on April 28 was funded in full. Senate voted to fund about a little more than half of the 5C Women’s Rugby team’s $2,000 request to cover costs to compete at nationals in Pittsburgh.