“Pacific Islanders-Only” Dinner Desegregated After Media Enquiries

Last Tuesday, a Facebook event invited students of the Claremont Colleges, a college consortium in southern California, to a Friday dinner hosted by the Asian American Resource Center (AARC) of Pomona College, the flagship member of the Claremont Colleges. The event description stated that “[t]his event intends to create a space for the Pacific Islander student community, so we ask that only Pacific Islander-identifying students attend.”

The segregated dinner was hosted at the Asian American Resource Center—a college-funded organization—on Pomona College’s campus last Friday.

After the Independent reached out to Mike Manalo-Pedro, the director of the AARC for more details, the event description on Facebook was changed to state that “[t]his event intends to create a space for Pacific Islander-identifying students,” omitting the sentence asking “that only Pacific Islander-identifying students attend.”

Screenshot of event description before change.


Upon reading this event description, a Pomona junior said “if a group were to request that only people who are [C]aucasian show up, there would be an uproar and I can almost guarantee you that Pomona wouldn’t fund it.” Due to the racial sensitivity of this topic, this student spoke to the Independent on the condition of anonymity.

Just before the dinner last Friday, correspondents from the Independent met with Manalo-Pedro to inquire about the decision-making behind the change. Manalo-Pedro told the Independent that “all events in AARC are inclusive and open for those wanting to build community,” and therefore that any students are welcome to the dinner regardless of background, describing the dinner as “a space for PI [Pacific Islander] community members to connect with one another.” Manalo-Pedro also remarked that he had only started his position this week, and that the event had been organized by students affiliated with AARC, rather than him organizing it directly. The Independent also enquired if he had asked the students to remove the discriminative request upon receiving an enquiry request from the Independent. Despite the alteration being made after the Independent sent out its enquiry email, Manalo-Pedro denied requesting the event description be changed.

This is not the only case of attempted college-sponsored racial segregation, as earlier this year Scripps College hosted a pool party initially for “persons of color” only, though that event was later opened up to all students and then postponed.

The Claremont Colleges Consortium also includes Harvey Mudd, Claremont McKenna, Scripps, and Pitzer Colleges.

 

Photo: Flickr/Tom Hodgkinson

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