When releasing the results of the student conduct process regarding campus policy violations during Heather Mac Donald’s Ath talk War on Cops on April 6, Claremont McKenna College’s administration made sure to address all possible responses and questions.
The email, featured a link on the school’s website to frequently asked questions. The page is split into four sections: Claremont McKenna College, Freedom of Expression, and the Athenaeum; College Security Preparations and Notice; Blocking Access at the Athenaeum on Thursday, April 6, 2017; and Student Conduct Process.
The first section provides previous examples of the Board of Trustees, President Hiram Chodosh, and Dean of Faculty Peter Uvin expounding their respective commitments to free speech. It further details the Athenaeum’s mission and history of hosting diverse views and explains CMC’s relationship with its neighboring colleges.
Notably, questions six and seven under this category clarifies that the College does not endorse the views of invited speakers and has never cancelled or disinvited one from attending its scheduled event. Last year, ten speakers, including Mac Donald, spoke at the Athenaeum to address the topics of race and law enforcement. As with all Athenaeum events, students had the opportunity to ask these speakers questions during a Q&A session following the talk.
The second section reports the safety and security protocols that were employed during the April 6 protest. After becoming aware of the scheduled protest, the administration employed a security plan that entailed the following: closing the event to the public and restricting access to registered guests; fencing the north side of the Athenaeum; adding extra Campus Safety and two additional Claremont Police Department officers; and attempting to contact the apparent organizer of the event. When these measures failed to secure a suitable atmosphere for the event to take place, the college employed live-streaming to hold the event virtually.
The third section provides a detailed timeline of the events that unfolded. It concludes that despite the volatility of the situation, the on-site CPD officers advised against arresting the protestors. While a precise breakdown of the Blockade Group is not disclosed, roughly 10 CMC students were involved in obstructing the Athenaeum doors. It was explicitly the blocking of access to the building — not the protest in and of itself — that was deemed a violation of Sections 1, 3 and 8 of the Student Code of Conduct and the Claremont Colleges Policy on Demonstrations.
In response to the question, “Could students have reasonably concluded that the blockades of entrances and exits of College buildings were permissible as a proper exercise of their rights to free speech and protest?,” the webpage simply responds, “No.”
The final section concerns the disciplinary proceedings for those who were accused of breaking the Student Code of Conduct. In this case, a three-member panel (consisting of one faculty member, one staff member and one student) made the final findings of fact based on the evidence.
After this process, a sanctioning officer sentenced three students with leadership roles in the protest to full year suspensions, two additional students who blocked the Ath entrance to one semester suspensions, and two other students who blocked the doors under mitigating circumstances to conduct probation. In total, seven students were found responsible for conduct violations.
When asked to speak with administrators on the decision, the Forum was advised to reference this page with no further comment.