CMC Deans Cancel Event, Disperse Gathering

The cancellation of the Rage in the Cage dodgeball event at Claremont McKenna College two weeks ago continues to have ramifications for the Associated Students of Claremont McKenna College (ASCMC) and has renewed discussion on the evolution of CMC’s social scene.

On Nov. 2, the day of the dodgeball tournament, the deans informed the student body that the event was cancelled. Director of the Center for Civic Engagement Amy Bibbens’ e-mail stated, “The event has been rescheduled and is not happening tonight. You will receive more information when we have additional details.”

According to an article in the Forum, ASCMC registered the event 10 days in advance, and Social Activities Chair Mark Blumenfeld CM ’14 said that “all necessary parties signed off on the event.” 

However, according to Dean of Students Mary Spellman, the event was not registered on time. 

“We were unable to hire appropriate security staff for the event,” Spellman wrote in an e-mail she sent to the student body the following day. “Although we attempted to address these issues during the week, we determined that it was best to reschedule the event.” 

Three hours after Bibbens’s cancellation e-mail, Blumenfeld sent an message to the entire student body to address the cancellation of the dodgeball game. 

“RAGE IN THE CAGE IS NOT GONNA HAPPEN. LOL. You’re probably wondering why? Since when is dodgeball a circumspect activity…? My sentiments exactly. But, as it stands, no camp sec, then no dodgeball,” he wrote in his e-mail. “HOWEVER, in the wise words of Luke Mayer ‘its HallowWEEKEND!!’ SO, TEAM UP, DRESS UP, AND ENGAGE.”

Later that night, approximately 150 students gathered in CMC’s North Quad to socialize, but around 11:30 p.m. Spellman, Assistant Dean of Student Eric Vos, and Bibbens forced the crowd to disperse.

“As the evening progressed, the gatherings on north quad evolved into a large, unregistered party with several hundred people, the visible presence of alcohol, underage drinking, and public intoxication,” Spellman wrote in her e-mail the next day. “Ultimately, the Dean of Students staff determined that the gathering was unsafe and in violation of College policy and needed to be disbursed [sic].”

Spellman declined to comment further on the matter. 

At the Nov. 10 ASCMC Executive Board meeting, it was announced that Blumenfeld has been charged by CMC’s Judiciary Board for breaking four rules. According to the Forum, “the allegations against him are as follows: engaging in disorderly conduct, including actions that ‘threaten or endanger’ any student’s safety or well-being; damage to property, including unauthorized use or ‘mishandling’ of equipment belonging to the college community; actions which violate the college’s alcohol policy and event registration hosting guidelines; and failure to comply with directions of Campus Safety officers.”

Blumenfeld has been suspended from registering events and sending campus-wide e-mails. 

Many students have questioned the deans’ decision from the perspective of ensuring student safety, noting that shutting down large gatherings encourages students to drink behind closed doors. Additionally, students have expressed concern that the administration is restricting students’ independence. 

Pieter Cornel CM ’14 said the decision by the deans was a “sign of deep disrespect to students.”

“Neither our
democratically elected student body, nor the RAs [resident advisers] hired and trained by DoS [the Dean of Students], seem responsible enough to supervise other students in the eyes of DoS, despite the
claim that CMC students are ‘leaders in the making,'” Cornel said. “I call for DoS to engage
in conversation with all students about the limitations on social events, the
risks, and the options we have. We are trained for years to be critical
thinkers, problem-solvers, and leaders, yet DoS does not allow us to
participate in solving the problems they face.”

In addition, many comments on Forum‘s website have referred to a perceived shift in the administration’s approach to parties since Spellman became Dean of Students. 

Ben Turner CM ’16 responded to this assessment. 

“The vilification of Spellman to me has been the biggest overreaction on the part of CMCers,” Turner wrote in an e-mail to TSL. “They accuse her, and DoS in general, of trying to reshape the social scene of CMC to a less fun, more controlled environment. In some ways, the events of Rage in the Cage signal some of those changes. But the move to have a safer campus is one I can appreciate and respect, given that some of the behavior that can occur on campus is often times sketchy, to say the least.”

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