CMC Board of Trustees Joins Discussion on Campus Social Scene

Claremont McKenna College continued the Personal and Social
Responsibility (PSR) Initiative launched last fall by holding a Board of
Trustees Plenary Session on Oct. 9. At the session, trustees joined students and administrators
in a discussion about the college’s social climate. 

The PSR Initiative, launched by CMC President Hiram Chodosh,
aims to reassess behavioral issues on campus regarding four topics: substance
abuse, sexual assault, academic integrity and diversity, according to the
college’s website.

An extension of last year’s Mirza Summit, where the college
invited students, staff members, faculty members and alumni to talk about the campus culture
in small groups, the Plenary Session brought in the Board of
Trustees to join the conversation.

“The Board has been heavily engaged in considering
challenges facing colleges across the country, including CMC,” Director of
Academic Planning Diana Graves wrote in an email to TSL. “The trustees look forward to participating in the PSR
committee work and to talking to students at the plenary session to hear more
directly about how you are experiencing life at the College.”

In
addition to hosting the Plenary Session, trustees will serve on committees for
each of the four components of PSR. 

Graves wrote that the committees were
created to be “intentionally broad in membership … and will include several
students as well as a member of the faculty, staff, a graduate of the College,
a parent, and one or more trustees.”

Trustee
Steven Eggert CM ’82 spoke highly of the dialogue he witnessed in the session.

“I
think there [are] definitely problems, there [is] definitely a right way and a
wrong way to solve it, and it’s very positive that we’re having this dialogue
because the problems have been around for a couple of years now,” Eggert said.

Associated Students of Claremont McKenna College President Ben Tillotson CM ’15 said that the committees are responsible for motivating change across campus.

“The
initiative’s purpose is to make recommendations for how you can get students
engaged in these issues and make CMC as a whole better, in all these areas,”
Tilltoson said. “And I hope that the committees are able to come up with some
actionable items that can translate into better behavior on campus.”

Tillotson
said that he believes the most prominent issues on campus are substance abuse
and sexual assault.

“I think there’s some overlap between those two issues,” he said. “I
think the work those two committees are doing will be the most visible.”

In a separate effort to promote a more inclusive and safe campus culture, ASCMC released a social pledge called the
Resolution for Social Responsibility. Having discussed it for the past two
weeks, the ASCMC Senate will vote on the final version Oct. 13.
If approved, “the pledge will require 3/4 of the student body to sign it before
it kicks into effect,” ASCMC Vice President Will Su CM ’16 wrote in an email to TSL.

“The motivation behind the pledge is a call to action for
students to hold themselves and each other accountable for shared values that
the community holds to be conducive to creating a safe atmosphere for all
students,” Su wrote.

According to a draft on ASCMC’s website, the pledge will
ask students to refrain from any form of harassment, use substances responsibly and “build an inclusive community,” among many other components.

CMC’s
new Title IX coordinator, Nyree Gray, said that she is excited about the
efforts she has seen so far across campus and looks forward to involving
herself in the college’s responsibility initiative.

“To
me it says that I’m entering a community of people who are already thinking
about ways to treat each other with respect, and that’s a big part of what I
hope to add to as being the chief civil rights officer here,” Gray said. “And
I’m excited about a lot of the initiatives that are coming from the personal
and social responsibility agenda because I think … if you change the mindset, that impacts behavior.”

Gator
Adams CM ’17, a member on ASCMC’s Student Life Committee, said that many of
these problems come from a lack of accountability and responsibility on the
part of CMC students.

“They
are simply not accepting consequences for their actions,” Adams said. “There are two
extremes. There is either no consequence or there is a severe consequence.
There aren’t consequences constructive toward what the meaning of a being a
leader is, which is really what CMC is. If you’re going to develop a leader
there has to be [constructive] consequences.”

Adams expressed hope about the initiative. 

“I
feel maybe it’s a step in the right direction,” Adams said. “It’s better than nothing.”

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