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November 13 2015

Annals of Defenestration: Claremont McKenna Dean Forced to Resign for Actually Being Sensitive to Minority Student's Concerns

Charlotte Allen

Move over, Mizzou! Make way for Claremont McKenna College, new winner in the hysteria-driven defenestration sweepstakes.

At the University of Missouri the president and chancellor were forced to resign a few days ago because they were perceived as insensitive to students' complaints of racial discrimination. At least the students there had a few actual incidents to complain about:  a drunken frat boy and some apparent local rednecks who shouted racial epithets at black students. Plus, of course, the well-publicized "poop swastika" in the dorm bathroom whose meaning is still unclear.

But at Claremont McKenna, an elite liberal-arts institution in California, the dean of students was forced to resign--just yesterday--for being sensitive to a student's complaint of racial discrimination:

Dean of Students Mary Spellman announced her decision in an email to the campus community, writing that she believed resigning was “the best way to gain closure of a controversy that has divided the student body and disrupted the mission of this fine institution.”

Here's what happened. On Oct. 23 a Claremont McKenna senior, Lisette Espinosa, a self-described "Latinx" (that's the new, "gender-neutral" subsitute for "Latino" and "Latino") published a 2,000-word essay in the student newspaper detailing her chronic unhappiness and feelings of alienation as a student:

Within the first weeks of school, I told an upperclassman Latino that I felt like I was admitted to fill a racial quota. Why would they want me here? Impostor syndrome is prevalent among first-generation students. These feelings caught me by surprise as I had never known what it felt like to be the "minority" in my predominantly immigrant, low-income Latinx hometown. The week after classes started, I cried at the Chicanx/Latinx New Student Retreat, where I felt comfortable enough to voice my concerns about the school. Feelings of inadequacy have haunted me throughout my time at CMC, and my struggles with anxiety and depression first arose at the end of my second year.

Students of color often report feeling unwelcome at predominantly-white institutions, and CMC is far from an exception. Our campus climate and institutional culture are primarily grounded in western, white, cisheteronormative upper to upper-middle class values....

Espinosa sent a copy of her article to Spellman, and Oct 25, Spellman e-mailed this reply (reproduced below in its entirety):

Lisette--

Thank you for writing and sharing this article with me. We have a lot to do as a college and community. Would you be willing to talk with me sometime about these issues? They are important to me and the DOS staff, and we are working on how we can better serve students, especially those who don't fit our CMC mold.

I would love to talk with you more.

Best,

Dean Spellman

Nice, gracious reply to a troubled student, right? Uh-uh. Student activists decided that Spellman was really saying was that minority students didn't belong at Claremont McKenna:

At 2 p.m. this afternoon, a group of over a hundred students gathered around the Hub patio in a demonstration led by students in the CMCers of Color group. President Hiram Chodosh and staff from the Dean of Students office, including Dean of Students Mary Spellman and assistant deans Devon MacIver, Kristin Weyman, and others, were present at the demonstration, and students of color directly addressed their concerns to them.

Prior to the protest’s start, CMC junior Taylor Lemmons ’17 announced in a post on Medium that in protest of the lack of support she believes DOS has shown towards students of color and of other marginalized identities, she is undergoing a hunger strike until Dean Spellman resigns from her post.

That was on Nov. 11. The next day, Lemmons got her wish.

Well, they always say that no good deed goes unpunished.

Independent Women’s Forum’s mission is to improve the lives of Americans by increasing the number of women who value free markets and personal liberty. Sister organization of Independent Women’s Voice.
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