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.
Seven Charles' mother said he was teased for his medical condition, choked and called a "n****r" by a peer.
Jefferson County Public School District is under fire because Seven Charles, a 10-year-old Black boy, killed himself after he endured constant bullying at Kerrick Elementary School in Louisville, his mother says.
"I did pull out my gun, but I never pointed it at them," Mark Allen Bartlett said. Video footage shows otherwise.
Mark Allen Bartlett of Hollywood Beach, Fla., pulled a gun on several Black teens, repeatedly calling them the n-word, as they were taking part in a "Bikes Up Guns Down" event on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in Brickell.
Update: Student Wearing MAGA Hat Standing Face-to-Face With Native American Veteran Releases Statement
"I was not intentionally making faces at the [protester]," said Nick Sandmann.
UPDATE: Monday, Jan. 21, 2019 at 7 a.m.
Nick Sandmann, the Covington Catholic High School Junior who stands in front of Nathan Phillips, an elder with the Omaha tribe and a veteran, in a viral video that has sparked outrage, made a statement through a lawyer and spokesman on Sunday night.
Sandmann said the students decided to raise their voices to drown out the comments against them by four protesters who identify themselves as Black Hebrew Israelites. A video has been released of the incident.
"A student in our group asked one of our teacher chaperones for permission to begin our school spirit chants to counter the hateful things that were being shouted at our group," Sandmann said in his statement. "The chants are commonly used at sporting events. They are all positive in nature and sound like what you would hear at any high school," he said.
Phillips walked up to the students and said he started drumming and singing a song to encourage unity trying to quell the argument.
"There was that moment when I realized I've put myself between beast and prey,'' Phillips told the Detroit Free Press. "These young men were beastly and these old Black individuals was their prey, and I stood in between them and so they needed their pounds of flesh and they were looking at me for that.''
But said at one point, he claims the teenagers started saying "Go back to the reservation'' and broke into chants of "Build that wall.'' He also questioned why chaperones did not get involved.
"I was scared," Phillips told CNN. "I don't like the word 'hate.' I don't like even saying it, but it was hate unbridled. It was like a storm."
Sandmann claims he was "not intentionally making faces at the [protester]. I did smile at one point because I wanted him to know that I was not going to become angry, intimidated or be provoked into a larger confrontation."
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Covington in Kentucky is currently investigating the incident.
ORIGINAL STORY Published Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019
Students wearing "Make America Great Again" hats, who attend Covington Catholic High School in Park Hills, K.Y., were in Washington, D.C. on Friday for the anti-abortion March for Life rally. In a video, it appears that Nathan Phillips, an elder with the Omaha tribe and a veteran, was being mocked by the students at the Lincoln Memorial.
The incident occurred as the Indigenous Peoples March was ending. Videos showing their behavior went viral on social media on Saturday.
One of the students, standing less than a foot away, appears to be trying to intimidate Phillips by staring him down with a mocking smirk on his face. Phillips was in the midst of drumming and singing a song of unity:
I've seen that look before — on the MAGA boy's face as he taunts a participant from the Indigenous Peoples March. Fueled by ideology and a desire to dehumanize, it frightens me and reminds me of other cruel youth groups from history.
(anyone know original source of video?) pic.twitter.com/Ka6t5HKmCz
— Melissa Chan (@melissakchan) January 19, 2019
Kaya Taitano, who shot the video, told CNN that MAGA hat-wearing-students and four Black teens, who'd been preaching about the Bible nearby, started yelling and calling each other names. That's why Phillips started drumming and singing a song to encourage unity trying to quell the argument.
President Trump, whom the students apparently idolize, posted a tweet last week to mock Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who plans to run for president in the 2020 election.
Trump made fun of the 1890 Wounded Knee massacre in response to a video Warren posted on Instagram.
If Elizabeth Warren, often referred to by me as Pocahontas, did this commercial from Bighorn or Wounded Knee instead of her kitchen, with her husband dressed in full Indian garb, it would have been a smash! pic.twitter.com/D5KWr8EPan
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 14, 2019
Phillips, a Vietnam Era veteran who said he served between 1972 and 1976, is in tears as he explains in a video how the incident on Friday made him feel:
"I heard them saying, 'Build that wall, build that wall.' This in indigenous land. You know, we're not supposed to have walls here. We never did …"
He continued, "Before anybody else came here, we never had walls. We never had a prison. We always took care of our elders. We took care of our children. We always provided for them. We taught them right from wrong."
He said he wishes the young men who taunted him would use "that energy to make this country really great."
Thank you to @VinceSchilling of @IndianCountry and many others who identified the proud Native man who is being harassed. He is Mr. Nathan Phillips. I'm reposting this video from “ka_ya11" on IG. This man's words pierce my heart. The grace. The wisdom. The hope. pic.twitter.com/BKOA40SVq5
— Ava DuVernay (@ava) January 19, 2019
Robert "Bob" Rowe is the principal of Covington Catholic High School (email: firstname.lastname@example.org).
An investigation is now taking place, and the MAGA teens could be expelled. The Diocese of Covington and the high school issued the following statement on Saturday:
"We condemn the actions of the Covington Catholic High School students towards Nathan Phillips specifically, and Native Americans in general, Jan. 18, after the March for Life, in Washington, D.C. We extend our deepest apologies to Mr. Phillips. This behavior is opposed to the Church's teachings on the dignity and respect of the human person.
"The matter is being investigated and we will take appropriate action, up to and including expulsion.
"We know this incident also has tainted the entire witness of the March for Life and express our most sincere apologies to all those who attended the March and all those who support the pro-life movement."
More than 10,000 people have signed a petition on Change.org demanding changes at the high school.
Many are saying on social media that the actions of the Covington Catholic High School students mimics how whites tried to intimidate Blacks during the civil rights movement:
The MAGA-hat wearing Covington Catholic High School students mocking Elder Nathan Phillips at the Indigenous Peoples March in Washington are direct descendants of the white privilege that empowered white kids to mock Elizabeth Eckford at Little Rock Central High School in 1957. pic.twitter.com/tQroBf6aPb
— Keith Boykin (@keithboykin) January 19, 2019
The dance team's choreographer told Camille Sturdivant that her skin was "too dark" to perform because she "clashed" with uniforms.
Camille Sturdivant has filed a racial discrimination lawsuit against the Blue Valley School District for the abuse she was subjected to as a member of the high school dance team.
"I am proud to use my voice to unite and represent our country in my hometown of Atlanta," Knight said. There's mixed reactions on social media.
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Kiah Morris resigned from her position because of the harassment, but Vermont's attorney general said he will not file charges against the perpetrators, including Max Misch.