The heads of every 5C student government events committee released a joint statement this week urging student performers and DJs to end their support of musicians “convicted of/on trial for/associated with sexual assault, domestic abuse, or other forms of maltreatment.” Included was a suggested list of artists to consider boycotting, including Chris Brown, XXXTentacion, and CeLo Green.
Kaya Mark SC ’18, vice president of student affairs at Scripps College, highlighted the symbolic precedent of the letter.
“There [has been] no widely documented time that the 5C student governments made a statement together,” she wrote in an email to TSL.
Mark stressed that solidarity is important to fight what she described as a feeling of helplessness that results from victim-blaming and other trivializations of sexual assault.
“One thing I can do is think about how I am supporting my peers and helping to change campus culture regarding sexual violence,” she wrote.
Pitzer College events board chair Elijah Pantoja PZ ’18 agreed with Mark, and expressed surprise about the lack of precedent.
“We wanted to establish this as a norm,” he said.
Pantoja said the letter reaffirms the 5Cs' commitment to supporting victims of abuse, and stressed the importance of other groups on campus embracing the same message.
“While it’s helpful for us internally in terms of programming we do, we’re not the only ones responsible for programming on campus,” Pantoja said.
Specifically, he said the letter can be seen as an indirect comment on the Hugh Hefner party hosted at Claremont McKenna College last weekend. Although the letter had already been finalized by the time of that party, Pantoja noted that the event was discussion by the events commitee heads, and said the letter is “not condoning the event that occurred at CMC.”
“We wanted to challenge other student organizations to think about the implications their actions could have,” Pantoja said. “The letter may be an important piece for the organizers to read considering the legacy that Hugh Hefner and Playboy left behind.” Hefner, the founder of Playboy magazine who died last week, had been accused of sexually assaulting women.
A party organizer, who asked to be quoted anonymously, said the party “was related to Hugh Hefner’s recent passing but was not meant to be a celebration of his life.”
“It was meant to be a lighthearted event,” the organizer said. They also expressed support for victims of sexual assault.
Mark acknowledged that the boycott is only one small step in supporting survivors, and recommended action on the individual level by suggesting students be more thoughtful and intentional regarding their music choices.
“We felt that this was a good way to start, as it is something that is fairly easy for students to particulate in,” she wrote.
The emphasis on music has significance in the collective effort as well.
“Controversial incidients that happen at the 5Cs” often occur at “social events related to music, festivals, and concerts,” Pantoja said.
Ultimately, Mark concluded, the letter does not address all relevant aspects regarding sexual and domestic violence, and raises additional questions to consider.
“It is also important to acknowledge the systematic problems with judicial proceedings and other racial injustices that occurs,” she wrote.
Both representatives encouraged students to send recommendations of artists to add to the list.