CMC Takes Party Shutdown Efforts to Facebook

In the aftermath of the Jan. 31 party
that was shut down by the Claremont and La Verne Police Departments at Claremont McKenna College, the issue
of unregistered parties at the college has been at the forefront of discussion
between students and administrators.

President Hiram Chodosh and Vice President of
Student Affairs Jefferson Huang emailed students Feb. 3 expressing “deep
concern” over
the party and the students’ nonconformity with the interim
guidelines regarding alcohol, which were released spring 2014 to outline
parameters for unregistered on-campus events. Dean of Students Mary Spellman
had emailed the guidelines to the student body two days before the party as a “reminder.”

“We are disturbed by this and
recurring patterns and reports of unacceptable, embarrassing and disrespectful
behavior,” wrote
Chodosh and Huang.

One issue at hand is a Facebook event titled “Big Ass Unregistered Party,” created Feb. 3 by Jake Bishop CM ’15.
The event description reads, “Just wanted to have a big ass party
with a bunch of people. Townies and alums strongly encouraged. Consider it a
+1, 2, or 5 event.”

Administrators became involved when
one concerned student sent screenshots of the event, including student
comments, to Huang.

The comments in question were posted
by Shelby Lane CM ’16 and Associated Students of Claremont McKenna College (ASCMC)
Social Activities Chair Jessie Thomas CM ’16. Thomas’s
comment reads, “$20 bucks for the first person to directly target a high
ranking official with a beer bottle.”

Chodosh and Huang had written in
their Feb. 3 email that “we observed the heckling of police
and a can was thrown in the direction of the highest ranking police officer on
the scene,” which
is a felony assault.

Lane has since deleted his comment,
which he said was “clearly a joke.”

The two students were called into
Huang’s office Feb. 5 to discuss their comments, which Huang
initially believed to be serious.

“I think most people involved knew it
was a joke,” Lane
said. “But clearly the humor was lost [on administrators]. Maybe my humor just isn’t funny.”

Lane was told that the Facebook
comments were discussed with other administrators and that the initial reaction
of one Senior CMC Vice President was that Lane, a student-athlete, should be
removed from his position on the basketball team for his comment.

Neither Lane nor Thomas were
disciplined after Huang learned of the factitious nature of the event. Lane offered to post a disclaimer on the event to make this
clear.

“In light of recent events, we
encourage everyone to cooperate with campus officials and help create a safer,
more enjoyable campus for all,” Lane wrote on the Facebook event page.

Thomas wrote in an email to TSL
that there seems to be a lack of trust between the administration and the student body, as
evident through administrative reaction to the Jan. 31 party.

“I believe that the administrative
response on Saturday in calling the police accomplished nothing but further
driving a wedge between the administration and the students,” Thomas wrote. “The
previous environment of trust that the students and the administration had
previously fostered seems to have disappeared entirely.”

Lane said that the Facebook incident
further exemplifies the misunderstandings that can occur between students and
administrators, particularly surrounding this contentious issue of unregistered
parties, and that students seem distrustful of the Dean of Students.

“I think it just goes to show just how
seriously the administration is taking the police presence and the presence of
unregistered parties on campus and how they’re trying to control them and limit
them,” Lane
said. “Given what I said and how it can be taken out of context I
completely understand why they would be concerned.”

Spellman could not be reached to comment.

Both Huang and Spellman attended the
Feb. 9 ASCMC Senate meeting to discuss the Jan. 31 party but did not mention
the Facebook incident.

“Was there a lack of student
understanding of the interim guidelines? I’d say yes,”
Sam Petersen CM ’18 wrote in an email to TSL. “Everything
seems fine in principle when you sign a [social responsibility resolution] that
basically says you won’t get rowdy, and 95% of people were just standing in
North Quad, doing nothing but talking.”

Other students emphasized the importance of communication between the administration and student body.

“I think that CMC needs to sit down
and have a conversation about what we want our party scene to look like and
agree upon the climate we want to create,” Kris Brackmann CM ’17 wrote.

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