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Organized by Scripps’s Latinx group “Cafe con Leche”, the event was announced via Facebook (click here for archived description) under the claim of being the “first ever POC [person of color] pool party in [Clare]mont”.
The three-hour use of Scripps’ Sallie Tiernan House Pool is aimed at the creation of “a safe space for 5C students that identify as POC to come together and build community,” and will be open to only students identifying as POC attending the Claremont Colleges, a consortium which also includes Pomona College, Claremont McKenna College, Pitzer College, and Harvey Mudd College. The event is set to take place between 7:00 PM and 10:00 PM, after the pool’s normal hours of operation.
Cafe con Leche also advertised the event on its own Facebook page, adding in its post that the pool party will be “POC ONLYYYY.” Cafe con Leche is a registered student club at Scripps College. Its stated goal is to “provide a forum for the discussion of social, political, and economic issues that affect women, particularly those of Latinx decent.” The group also claims to be welcoming of all members of the Scripps College community:
“We welcome all members of the Scripps community regardless of racial and cultural heritage to join us in this pursuit.”
Cafe con Leche’s post advertising the event on its Facebook page.
The event, sanctioned by the college, appears to violate Scripps’s anti-discriminatory policy. The policy reads, “Scripps College is committed to a policy of equal opportunity, and no differentiation will be made based on race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, sexual orientation, veteran status, or the presence of a disability.” This event is clearly advertised as a party for individuals that identify as people of color to the exclusion of white students.
Even if the event is in accordance with Scripps College policy, it may run afoul of federal law. Because Scripps College receives federal assistance, it is bound by Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VI states, “Schools and colleges that receive federal funds must operate without discriminating when it comes to race, color, and national origin.” Educational programs and services that must abide by this law include recreational facilities such as Sallie Tiernan House Pool. Consequences for violations of Title VI can include loss of any sort of federal assistance. It is unclear whether hosting the pool party after regular hours affects the application of civil rights legislature.
Students on campus have expressed differing opinions about the party. One Scripps student who identifies as POC told the Independent on the condition of anonymity that the pool party is necessary to build community between POC and is indeed inclusive: “First of all, this is a POC party. No one is saying, ‘it needs to be all Latinx or all black students etc.’ The point of this event is to promote inclusivity and congeniality between ethnic minorities. Most POCs at any of the Claremont Colleges (which are historically PWIs (Predominantly White Institutions)) interact and enjoy interacting with people of all races (obviously including white people), but sometimes it’s nice to have a time to be with people who identify in the same or similar way that you do. And that’s also why no one is forced to come—if a POC identifies more with their white peers, they’re not forced to go to this party or any [racial affinity group] meetings. The fact that they’re holding this party after hours also shows that they’re consciously not taking away the right of their white peers to go to the pool on a hot day”.
However, one student attending Pomona College told the Independent that he believes the pool party is exclusive in nature: “I am white-passing with a diverse friend group, most of whom were invited to this party except for me.”
“Talking to my friends, I felt as though the hosts of the event had gone through people’s social media profiles to determine their skin color and then explicitly allowed or denied people admission to the event on the sole basis of their skin color,” he added.
The organizers also posted a link to a form to let those invited notify who the hosts should keep out of the pool party:
“Here’s a link to anonymously let us know of people that would keep this experience from being a safe and comfortable one.”
Self-segregated spaces and events exclusively for POC are increasingly common across the Claremont Colleges. Pitzer College’s Climbing Club is hosting an event later this month off campus for POC only. The event’s description begins by saying, “Are you a person of color? Have you ever wanted to try climbing, but felt intimidated by the predominantly white space that is the climbing community?” and tells members to “bring all of your POC identifying friends for a fun, FREE, night of climbing! … This is a closed event for POC identifying people only,” with the caveat that for white members being excluded, “expect another climb night in the near future open to everyone.”
The event description of the pool party ends with “It’s a great time to enjoy a pool party by the people and (more importantly) FOR THE PEOPLE!!”
The organizers have not responded to inquiries by the Independent at publication time.
Photo: Flickr / Alonzo Jeter