5C Student Leaders Unite to Affirm Student Demonstration Rights

The Associated Students of Pomona College (ASPC) passed a resolution on Nov. 2 in support of student demonstration rights. The resolution was a response to a revision of the 7C demonstration policy that provoked widespread backlash among students across the colleges.

The revision to the demonstration policy, which was approved by the Claremont Colleges Council of Presidents on Oct. 6, stated that demonstrations in violation of the policy include “those that involve: fighting or other aggressive behaviors or actions; amplified sound that can be heard inside of classrooms or other TCC or CUC buildings during times of use; unreasonably impeding the ingress and egress of any facility; or the stationary positioning of demonstrators upon any roadway on or adjacent to any of the colleges that blocks passage.”

In response to student concerns about the policy, the Council of Presidents suspended implementation of the policy and instituted a comment period on Oct. 12.

ASPC's resolution demands certain rights for student demonstrators at the 5Cs, including the right to assemble and demonstrate peacefully without being threatened or harassed. 

Furthermore, the resolution states that ASPC “explicitly supports the use of chanting, noise amplification, and marching through the campuses during demonstrations” and demands that any attempts to discipline students for their participation in demonstrations must be validated with evidence suggesting the “threat of violence or significant property damage.”

Felipe Beltran CM '18, a member of the Associated Students of Claremont McKenna College (ASCMC) Consortium Affairs Committee, said that a special committee within ASCMC is in the process of reviewing ASPC's resolution in the hopes of negotiating one resolution that the Senates from all five colleges can pass.

“We’re going to try to find common ground if there are disagreements, and hopefully from there we can create joint resolutions that both of us can adopt and we can encourage the other three schools to adopt as well,” Beltran said.

The senates could also pass mirroring resolutions, but Beltran believes a joint resolution would be more powerful, since there hasn’t been a joint resolution passed in recent memory at the Claremont Colleges.

“I think it’d stand a lot bolder against the administration if we got this passed within all the 5Cs,” Beltran said.   

Scripps Associated Students (SAS) President Minjoo Kim SC '16 wrote that SAS will discuss the resolution at their upcoming meeting.

Additionally, a review committee comprised of two students from each college will evaluate the demonstration policy and bring recommendations to the deans' committee. The review committee is still collecting application from students who want to participate, according to a Nov. 5 email from ASPC to the Pomona student body.

“I'm hopeful that the student representatives will successfully advocate on our behalf and demonstrate how vital protest has been to our community in the past and how it will continue to be in the future,” Kim said.

Some students believed the language used in the revised policy was ambiguous and could potentially grant administrators wide latitude to shut down protests that did not align with their interests, as reported in an Oct. 16, 2015 TSL article.

“Protests are, by nature, disruptive, so we think the language needs to be modified,” Beltran said in an interview with TSL.

Students were also upset by the lack of communication between students and administrators during the the policy’s creation.

“Scripps students were certainly upset,” SAS President Minjoo Kim SC ‘16 wrote in an email to TSL. “SAS, in particular, was extremely disappointed at the complete lack of transparency from our Dean of Students.”

In an email to Scripps administrators, Kim wrote that the policy announcement was insensitive with regard to recent student demonstrations, such as the Black Lives Matter protests of last year.

“The vague, ambiguous language used in the revised version of the policy is inherently racialized and eliminates opportunities for marginalized voices to be heard,” Kim wrote.

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