Safe Spaces Segregate the Claremont Colleges
In the wake of last week’s protests and resignations at Claremont McKenna College (CMC), “safe spaces” for students of marginalized identities are popping up all over the campuses of the Claremont Colleges. After protestors called for action, CMC President Hiram Chodosh stated his commitment to providing a permanent safe space for students of color in the near future. Until then, the Associated Students of Claremont McKenna College (ASCMC) have dedicated part of their office as a safe space for these students.
Safe spaces for minority students have appeared on the campuses of other Claremont Colleges as well. Last week, the Motley Coffeehouse at Scripps College issued a statement on its official Facebook page, “The Motley sitting room will be open tonight from 6-10 only for people of color and allies that they invite. Please feel free to come and use the space for whatever you need – decompress, discuss, grieve, plan, support each other, etc. In solidarity.”
The 5C Students of Color Alliance also held an event at Pomona College to provide a safe space for “healing” and “self-preservation” for students of color. “Come by to chat, work, vent, organize, express, and do anything else that will help sustain you with other students of color,” they write in a Facebook post. “As this is a space for students of color, please respect the space as such. I truly hope that organizations centering around different marginalized identities continue (or begin) offering spaces for intentional healing and preservation!”
Additionally, a “Hurting and Healing” event, described as “a *for POC, by POC* art show,” is scheduled to take place at Pomona College on December 5. “This show’s intent is to create a space that is pro-POC, pro-black, and anti-white supremacist,” states the event’s website. “While you may want to invite a white friend or ally, to make this a safe and comfortable space for other POC, we ask that you do not.”
Further, the editorial board of The Student Life, an official, student government-funded newspaper, expressed solidarity with the recent movement and issued a statement explaining that the publication will create a space in its next issue for students of color who wish to write about their personal experiences. “We are tired of going to protests, seeing White allies snap and clap and shout only to move on the next day like nothing happened,” the editors write.
“So for those who don’t feel all the messages of solidarity are enough, or who feel that mainstream media is misguided in representing people of color, or who feel compelled to speak and be heard, we would like to repurpose its influence by providing a space in next week’s issue for students of color to voice their experiences,” the editors continue. “We will proofread, but we will not edit your voice or content.”
In response to the abundance of racially segregated safe spaces on campus, two CMC students issued a statement of concern. “We are in support of every person’s right to associate, or not associate, with whomever they choose,” the students write. “However, we object in the strongest fashion to institution-sanctioned physical safe spaces whose purpose is to discriminate based on racial or sexual identities, and which physically bar certain students from their premises.”
They point out, “CMC guidelines forbid organizations associated with the college to deny membership based on sex, race, religion, national origin, ancestry, creed, sexual orientation or physical, mental, emotional or learning disability, as they ought to.”