Last month, the Associated Students of Claremont
McKenna College unrolled its Resolution on Social Responsibility, which is
currently being discussed by the ASCMC Senate. We believe the resolution is an
important step toward making the CMC community safer and more welcoming and that students across the 5Cs should take note of the resolution.
As Emily Wasserman CM ’18 reports this week, a special meeting of the
CMC Board of Trustees convened to address issues of personal and social
responsibility. (See News, page 1). And as Lauren Ison reports, CMC and Pomona College both created full-time positions for Title IX Coordinators (See News, page 3). We
support both developments as institutional steps toward promoting a safe campus
environment. However, change cannot only come from the
administration but must also be taken as an aim by students.
The resolution reflects a commendable attempt by
CMC’s student government to target concerns about the CMC campus culture,
including sexual assault and misconduct, lack of accountability by students for
the campus and “the perception of CMC party culture as a setting where
students feel obligated to drink.” With the resolution, ASCMC is calling on
students to sign a pledge to hold each other accountable, respect other
students’ bodies, agency and identities, consume alcohol and drugs responsibly and build inclusivity, among other actions.
Some have criticized ASCMC for pandering to the
wishes of the administration, which has indeed been moving to tighten party
restrictions and create a safer campus culture. However, we believe that the
issues in the resolution transcend any sort of administration-versus-student dichotomy. The issues that ASCMC has chosen to address are
important issues in their own right, no matter the administration’s opinion on
Given that relevance, we urge the ASCMC Senate to ratify the resolution—and,
more importantly, we urge all CMC students to sign the resolution. Participation
by all students would send a meaningful message that CMC students are committed
to ensuring that their peers are comfortable and safe at CMC, in many respects. It would also promote student support of the diversity that
exists in the CMC community. It is crucial, if the college looks to recruit a
more diverse student body in the future, that the college be a
welcoming place for students of all backgrounds.
To maximize the efficacy of the resolution, we suggest that the student
government allow for more discussion among all students about the items of
concern. In particular, issues of identity and inclusion—including
gender and sexuality, class and race—are so multifaceted that incorporating
them in the resolution will only be effective if students have a chance to
explore these topics in greater detail as a community.
One possible way to do so would be to follow the
model used by Scripps Associated Students, which frequently holds Be Heard
forums in the Scripps Student Union to allow students a space to discuss topics
of concern to the entire student body.
As we note that ASCMC might borrow from methods
used by SAS, we would like to urge all the student governments to
pay attention to this step that has been taken by ASCMC. Although no student
government need follow this exact model, we think discussions of personal
responsibility and students’ obligations toward the collective social atmosphere would be beneficial for the
consortium at large, even if each school has different specific challenges
within this broad category.
Our colleges have unique social cultures that we often, and rightly, identify with on a personal level. But that personal identification with the social norm should not prevent us, as individual students or as a community, from recognizing the ways in which those social cultures may be isolating, alienating or downright dangerous to others. This resolution, or other similar efforts, should not be seen as an attempt to fundamentally alter the spirit of a school’s social identity; rather, it should be understood as part of an ongoing project to enable as many community members as possible to feel the sort of personal connection that so many before have treasured.
In that light, we support ASCMC’s resolution on social responsibility. And we encourage all student governments, and the students at each college, to consider what we might do better to ensure that our campuses are welcoming and safe for all.