CMC To Hold Black-Only Event, Black Student Groups Demand Further Action After Racist YikYak Posts
On Wednesday, the President of the Associated Students of Claremont McKenna College (ASCMC) announced that ASCMC and the Dean of Students Office (DOS) will host a black-only event at the CARE Center Thursday night.
This comes in response to backlash regarding the content of anonymous social media posts and private group chats. On her personal Instagram page, the ASCMC president announced, “A lot of you all know/saw the racist [Yik Yak posts] in response to the Monte Carlo fundraiser. ASCMC and DOS [are] putting a space together for us to support each other and unpack how we are feeling.”
The Monte Carlo fundraiser this year was focused on “incentivizing students to take active participation in solving the issues around the world. This year, we picked one issue: anti-Blackness in the migration system.” To attend the Monte Carlo party, students were asked either to donate to the Haitian Bridge Alliance or the Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI), or to attend one educational event.
The link for donations to the Haitian Bridge Alliance is connected to ActBlue, an organization described by some as “a permanent part of Democratic politics” that has helped generate funding for candidates like Bernie Sanders, John Ossoff, and others.
The ASCMC president went on to “condemn the anti-Black and racist sentiments shared on [Yik Yak] and [in group chats].” Her announcement on Instagram stated that Thursday's event would be for “Black students only!”
Since CMC receives federal funding, exclusion of students on the basis of race would be a violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which says, “No person in the United States shall, on the ground of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”
This is not the first time a student organization at the Claremont Colleges has hosted a segregated event. In 2018, Scripps’ Latinx student affinity group, Cafe con Leche, organized a pool party exclusively for people of color (POC). In 2020, the Claremont Consortium’s Queer Resource Center (QRC) held a networking event exclusively for “black queer, trans, & intersex students, staff, & faculty at the 7Cs [Claremont University Consortium].” Both events were later desegregated after significant public outcry.
In response to what they referred to as “anti-Haitian, anti-Black, and xenophobic [Yik Yak] posts [which] encapsulate a racist culture on this campus that makes Black students feel unsafe and unwelcome,” CMC’s Black Women’s Collective and Black Student Association demanded CMC “uphold [its] commitment to supporting and advocating for Black Students.” The two organizations have devised a list of “proactive steps” for CMC to implement in order to deal with the “dark underbelly” the organizations claim the Yik Yak posts have revealed.
The list of demands includes a ban on “YikYak use at the Claremont Colleges by blocking access to the server on all internet servers affiliated with the Claremont Colleges”; the “[c]reation of an anonymous form students can use to report any information they have pertaining to the identity of those involved in racist YikYak incidents”; a “commitment to 2-4 mandatory workshops/events to educate the student body on Black/immigrant issues”; a “Town Hall discussing the state of anti-Blackness on campus”; and several less significant provisions to be implemented within the month.
The organizations have also demanded that the college take several more significant actions in support of Black people within the next six to eighteen months. These include “[a] commitment to diversity by the Admissions office that outlines the direct steps they are taking to increase diversity on this campus”; “[i]nvestment in resources to support Black students on this campus”; “[t]he creation of a physical Black student space/room on Claremont McKenna College’s campus”; “[a]ppointment of a full-time staff member to oversee Black students at Claremont McKenna College”; “[a]ppointment of a full-time Black therapist to support Black students at Claremont McKenna College”; and “[e]xpedited implementation of the Race and Ethnic Studies GE, by the 2022-2023 school year.”
Shortly after the publication of the list of grievances and demands, ASCMC's Diversity and Inclusion Chair forwarded the list to the wider student body along with a statement in solidarity from CMC's Civil Rights Task Force. In its statement of solidarity the Task Force affirmed that "[t]o the students who have been impacted by these recent events, know that the Civil Rights Task Force is here for you as a confidential resource. We are accessible through our confidential instagram direct messages (@cmc_taskforce) or through the confidential report form in our instagram bio."