CMC Plans Roundtable to Facilitate Social Scene Discussion

In response to complaints from students about changes in Claremont McKenna College’s social climate, CMC President Hiram Chodosh has created a targeted Committee on Personal and Social Responsibility and is coordinating a roundtable discussion with students to be held tomorrow. 

At the Nov. 18 Associated Students of Claremont McKenna College (ASCMC) Senate meeting, Chodosh announced the establishment of the committee, which will include four subcommittees: alcohol and drugs, sexual assault and Title IX, academic integrity, and identity and diversity. The committee, which Vice President Jeff Huang will establish along with students, faculty, staff, trustees, alumni, and parents, will begin meeting next semester. 

In the meantime, the announcement of the committee has given rise to a more informal and immediate forum for discussion: a roundtable event.

The goal of the event is to “facilitate discussion among all students, especially ones not necessarily representing what some more vocally consider the culture of CMC,” wrote Ben Turner CM ’16, who helped organize the event, in an e-mail to TSL. “The event will hopefully allow us as students to share a mature, informed and passionate, unified voice about how we hope to see our social and cultural landscape move forward.” 

While students have expressed concern throughout the past few years about the administration becoming stricter toward alcohol consumption on campus, dissatisfaction intensified last month when the administration canceled the “Rage in the Cage” dodgeball event and dispersed a gathering in CMC’s North Quad. 

“This propelled many students to feel that DOS [Dean of Students] and the students, as well as the president, were out of touch with one another,” Turner wrote. He wrote that after Chodosh encouraged students to contact him with concerns at the Nov. 18 Senate meeting, Turner and seven other students individually e-mailed Chodosh and then met with him as a group; from there, they arrived on the idea of the roundtable. 

“In our conversation with him, President Chodosh showed patience, understanding and appreciativeness, and seemed genuinely concerned with our input,” Turner wrote.  

According to the event’s Facebook page, the roundtable will begin with an address by Chodosh regarding student concerns and then open up to small group discussions among students, geared toward generating suggestions for improving the social climate. Conversations will be documented and sent to Chodosh and the Dean of Students office. 

“As a student at CMC, I hope that the roundtable on Saturday helps to create an open discussion,” Nicole Hohnstein CM ’16 wrote in an e-mail to TSL. “I think that in recent discussions the general population has been left out—for the most part discussions have just involved the administration and ASCMC.”  

“I’m glad that President Chodosh is interested in hearing our perspective on the changing social environment,” Henry Appel CM ’16 wrote in a message to TSL. “I think diplomatic efforts will produce a better resolution than passive aggressive ‘open letters’ or subversive efforts.”  

 Dave Saxon CM ’16 articulated a concern many students share about the administration’s stricter response to drinking on campus this semester.

 “Trying to remove alcohol is futile,” he wrote in a message to TSL. “It will lead to more binge drinking and sexual assault behind closed doors of dorm rooms. What we need is a sense of community, people watching out for each other so there’s minimal peer pressure and over drinking and sexual assault disappear.” 

“If our interests are passed over because they don’t conform with the administration’s goals of ‘reducing liability,’” Appel wrote, “it’ll be inevitable that students will lose faith in diplomacy, so it would be wise for Chodosh and DOS to heed our opinions.” 

The roundtable will be held tomorrow at 11 a.m. in the Marian Miner Cook Athenaeum and is open to all CMC students.

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