More Campus Racism: Dean of School with 'Happiest Students' Resigns
Former Dean of Claremont McKenna College Mary Spellman resigned last week as more college students confront racial tensions on their campuses.
Yet another college official has resigned following protests from students speaking out against racial injustices on campus.
Mary Spellman, who served as a dean of Claremont McKenna College in Los Angeles, announced her resignation last Thursday following an email she wrote in which she seemed to infer minority students don't necessarily belong.
The school was ranked number three on the Princeton Review's colleges with the happiest students; however, recent events showcase a different side of the college and some less than happy feelings.
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CMC, a liberal arts college with about 1,300 students, has a more diverse population than the University of Missouri and Ithaca, both of which were at the center of protests over the past couple of weeks. According to its website, Claremont McKenna's student body is just 43 percent white. However, only 12 percent of CMC's students are Hispanic; meanwhile, nearly half of Los Angeles is Hispanic.
The tipping point for the call of the dean's resignation came following her response to the publication of an op-ed in The Student Life. Lisette Espinosa, a senior at CMC, published "Who Is the Happiest at the 'Happiest College in America'?" on Oct. 23. In the piece, Espinosa describes her difficulties on a campus where, in her words, the "institutional culture [is] primarily grounded in western, white, cisheteronormative upper to upper-middle class values":
Within the first weeks of school, I told an upperclassman Latino that I felt like I was admitted to fill a racial quota. Why would they want me here? Imposter syndrome is prevalent among first-generation students. … The week after classes started, I cried at the Chicanx/Latinx New Student Retreat, where I felt comfortable enough to voice my concerns about the school. Feelings of inadequacy have haunted me throughout my time at CMC, and my struggles with anxiety and depression first arose at the end of my second year.
In a response to Espinosa, Spellman wrote, "We have a lot to do as a college and a community. … [These issues] are important to me and the DOS staff and we are working on how we can better serve students … who don't fit our CMC mold."
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For many students at the college, Spellman's description of students "who don't fit our CMC mold" proved just how much the college still has to do to be more inclusive.
However, Spellman's email serves as just one example of the campus's battle with diversity and inclusion. In April, "a group of approximately 30 students of color at Claremont McKenna College" wrote a letter to the university's president, Hiram Chodosh, with numerous proposals "to better support students of color," according to the letter. Some of the proposals included the creation of a diversity chair in the dean of students office, more diversity in the staff, required racial sensitivity training for professors and a wider variety of courses that discuss different social justice issues.
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Last week, Chodosh revealed in an email to students that the college was creating two new positions to support diversity and inclusion. But having such positions does not always guarantee progression in diversity and inclusion, as demonstrated by the University of Louisville, where the school's president hosted a costume party deemed very offensive to the Hispanic community — despite the fact that the university houses an Office of Hispanic and Latino Initiatives.
Diversity initiatives have fallen flat at CMC in recent years as well, even though the university has a Diversity Committee, according to the school's 2011-2012 Report of the Campus Climate Task Force: "In the summer of 2011, members of the Diversity Committee voiced concern that the active role of the Committee had decreased in recent years and that the existing model by which the members gathered for ongoing dialogue about diversity had become stale and limited in effectiveness." No matter how many committees, diversity chairs or offices dedicated to initiatives a school may have, it means nothing if meaningful dialogue or effective action is not taking place.
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At a protest Wednesday afternoon, organized by a group called CMCers of Color, junior Taylor Lemmons announced she would engage in a hunger strike until Spellman resigned. Spellman insisted she still would not leave her position but evidently had a change of heart by the following day. In her resignation email, Spellman said she hoped her departure would "enable a truly thoughtful, civil and productive discussion about the very real issues of diversity and inclusion facing Claremont McKenna, higher education and other institutions across our society."
Indeed, Spellman's departure only signifies the beginning. Student Jessica Jin wrote an op-ed regarding last week's events:
I'm not interested in contesting the justification or merits of her resignation. Whether or not she truly was unfit to serve as Dean of Students due to implicit racial bias is a debate that, though important, is beyond the scope of what I see as the real issue at hand. To be distracted by her departure is to take the easy route by debating extraneous consequences rather than contemplating our own actions and behavior.
Just like at Mizzou, the resignation of inadequate campus leaders does not solve the problems at hand. It is up to the rest of the college to use this as an opportunity to start the appropriate dialogue on how to achieve the diversity and inclusion CMC's students are fighting for.
Mike Espy, a Black man, in a runoff election against Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith said her comment has "no place in our political discourse, in Mississippi, or our country."
U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) will face Democratic candidate Mike Espy, a Black man, in a runoff election. In a video clip, which went viral on Sunday, she jokes about attending "a public hanging" — a method of domestic terrorism that killed hundreds of Black people in the state.
Her racist comments cost Susan Westwood her job, her apartment, and gave her a criminal record.
Susan Westwood's racist rant landed her simple assault and criminal threats charges and a warrant after leaving the scene where she harassed the Garris sisters outside their Charlotte, N.C., apartment complex, threatening them with concealed weapons.
The fake 911 call she made saying that the sisters were trying to break in also earned her a misdemeanor warrant for misuse of the 911 system, according to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department.
Westwood was booked by Sunset Beach Police on Saturday and transferred to the Brunswick County Sheriff's Department. She was later released.
The Garris sisters' attorney, Michael Phillips, brought up the safety issue in terms of concealed weapons and threats to residents to the Camden Fairview Apartments attorneys, and they agreed to evict Westwood.
"When I spoke with them and their legal counsel they agreed that that behavior was not going to be tolerated at their apartment complex," Phillips said.
Westwood had threatened to take out her concealed weapons after telling the sisters that she was white and hot, and that they didn't belong there.
The 911 call Westwood made was released by police:
"There are folks that are trying to break in. They're trying to get in the apartments. They are actually people that I've never seen here before ― but they are African American."
When the dispatcher said that police were already responding to a broken down car in that area, Westwood replied: "If you want to know my personal opinion, there's no car broken down. There's somebody trying to cause problems. Nobody breaks their car down in the best part of society."
"They just don't belong here. … Get them out of here," Westwood demanded. "I'll tell you what, I'll pay $2,500 to get them out of here."
In a recording of a call made by Garris, she told another dispatcher that she was still waiting for police while Westwood was harassing her.
Westwood was heard screaming, "You're not going to sell drugs here."
Garris had to call 911 twice to get a response about Westwood, and when they showed up Westwood had already gone. She was MIA for four days, before turning herself in.
"We are so distraught and still very upset about what has taken place only because of the color of our skin. It was so upsetting to know that today we still have this overt racism that's going on in 2018," said one of the sisters.
Cohen said Trump commented in 2016: "Black people are too stupid to vote for me."
Major corporations are pulling support over King's divisive rhetoric about race, ethnicity and immigrants.
Republican Rep. Steve King of Iowa's campaign is losing support from companies. In the wake of the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre, consumers and employees are pushing back against companies donating to King as they are fed up with his years of racist comments and association with white nationalists, even retweeting a Nazi sympathizer.
Trump continues to pander to his base before midterm elections.
President Trump said that he plans to sign an executive order to end birthright citizenship to children born in the United States to non-citizens and undocumented immigrants. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said it's an attempt to "fan the flames of anti-immigrant hatred" before next week's midterm elections.
Robert Paul Rundo leads the "overtly racist, violent right-wing fight club" based in California.
Robert Paul Rundo, the 28-year-old leader of the violent Rise Above Movement (RAM), who fled the U.S. earlier this month for Mexico and then Central America, is now in federal custody. Rundo and his group beat counter-protesters to a pulp at a "Make America Great Again" rally.
The victims, who are both Black, have been identified.
Jeffersontown police have released the names of both victims in Wednesday's shooting: Maurice E. Stallard, 69, and Vicki Lee Jones, 67 were identified by the coroner's office.
Stallard was the father of Louisville's Chief Racial Equity Officer, and Jones was a woman on her way from her home, just blocks away, to pick up some groceries.
Gregory Bush, the shooter in custody, has a criminal past, as well as one wrought with mental illness and racial hostility.
His ex-wife, who filed for protection against Bush, was reportedly called a "ni**er bit**" by him, according to court records.
Bush's social media pages say that he once was married to a Black woman, and had a Black son. He once posted: "All lives matter, not just Black lives."
In addition, posts were found criticizing Colin Kaepernick and other NFL players for kneeling protests, and the media for allegedly not covering a mass shooting committed by a Sudanese immigrant. Bush also shared a petition urging the governor to prevent confederate statues from being removed.
Bush has been charged with assault numerous times, and also with menacing a 15-year-old girl in a movie theater bathroom and said, he "thought we were family."
He posted about his diagnosis and how it had impacted his life as well saying, " [ I ] worked most of my life and battled mental illness throughout my life…I'm lucky I made it this far with all the trouble I've caused myself when I get off my medicine."
His wife wrote that in 2003 Bush had been diagnosed "paranoid and was put on medication," according to court records. "He stopped taking his medication."
Details about his history include court-ordered mental health treatment, being reported as a "suicide risk" by police, and being ordered to not own any weapons.
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said of the shooting: "Our city and our future have no room for anyone who looks at their fellow human beings with hate or discrimination."
He also took the opportunity to call on state and federal officials to address the gun violence "epidemic" in this country and the need for improved mental health care.
"The hard fact is that most violent crimes are committed with guns, and guns fall under the jurisdiction of the state and federal governments," Fischer said.
"Every time someone takes a gun and creates a tragedy, what's the response?" asked Fischer. "From too many of our leaders, the ones who have the power to make our country safer, our city safer, our schools and churches and groceries safer, they act as if nothing can be done. That doesn't sound like the United States of America to me — the most powerful, most resourceful country in the world. Why do we pretend that we're helpless?"
Of the loss of his colleague's father: "This one is especially painful because, as has been reported, one of the victims was the father of a member of my team," Fischer said.
A Kroger employee has started a fundraiser to help both families. Jones' family started a GoFundMe page to help long-distance relatives travel to Louisville for her funeral. Her brother just died two weeks ago.
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A video clip Gillum posted on Twitter of Wednesday's debate has gone viral.
A video clip that Florida Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum posted on Twitter has gone viral with more than 3 million views. In just 40 seconds of Wednesday night's debate, Gillum, who is the mayor of Tallahassee, explains why racists believe Republican former U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis is a racist.