Following Pitzer College’s President Melvin L. Oliver’s announcement that he will veto the joint student-faculty vote to suspend the College’s study abroad program with the University of Haifa in Israel, the President has received onslaught from many students. This decision comes despite a 67-28 vote result in favor of suspending the program. Students across Claremont have taken to social media to name-call and slander Oliver, are planning protests, and Pitzer’s Student Senate has even drafted a resolution calling for his resignation.
The Editorial Board of the Claremont Independent would like to express our support for President Oliver’s decision. While the topic is a controversial one—as we have emphasized previously—we believe that an appreciation for all sides of the Israeli-Palestinian is essential to the intercultural understanding Pitzer holds as one of its core values. The exchange program with the University of Haifa enables Pitzer students to develop their own views by interacting with people directly affected by the conflict in question. This opportunity is an immensely valuable one; it should not simply be tossed aside. Oliver’s decision to go against the decision of the Council prioritizes the long term interests of Pitzer as an institution and of its students. By reversing the vote of the Council, Oliver has preserved for Pitzer students a once in a lifetime opportunity to gain a truly in-depth understanding of the Israel-Palestine conflict.
We would also like to make it clear that, while we are in full support of the right of students to protest any and all decisions made by the administration, resorting to name-calling is unbecoming of students of some of the world’s best private colleges. Referring to Oliver as a “b*tch boy” is simply inappropriate on principle. We’d also like to express our hope that any protests that do follow remain peaceful, civil affairs. Students have a right to communicate their grievances, but we at the Claremont Independent hope they refrain from using intimidation tactics and open hostility as tools to push their own agenda. Instead, we hope student protesters and representatives of the College make a concerted effort to engage in peaceful and productive dialogue with each other. As with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict itself, it’s important that both sides of this issue take steps to come to an understanding with one another. Pitzer cannot and should not be divided along student/faculty and administration lines. Disagreement and dissent are natural and necessary parts of any organization, but it’s important that the essential unity underlying them remains undamaged.
Just as the Claremont Independent, four years ago, dissented against student protesters forced the resignation of a Claremont McKenna College dean over a poorly-worded email, we stand against student activists who believe they know better President Oliver, and are demanding his resignation against the interests of their college and, by extension, their own academic pursuits. As students, we must remember to not discount the experience and long-term goals of our college presidents; while we are only in college for four years, they may have an attachment with the institution for far longer—there is a reason why colleges are not entirely student run.
To President Oliver, we at the Claremont Independent applaud your decision. It takes great courage to go against the mainstream opinion to do what one feels is right. In going against the decision of the Council, President Oliver has done just that. When the inevitable backlash comes, we hope it does so in the peaceful, thought-out manner suitable to the complexity of the topic in question. In any case, we urge the president not to reverse his decision. He has made a bold stand in defense of intellectual diversity today. It is in the interests of Pitzer College and the Israel-Palestine situation alike that his choice remain unaltered.
Alec Sweet & William Gu, Editors-in-Chief
Chris Rossi, Managing Editor
Liam MacDonald, Interim Editor
Ahlbie Squire, Interim News Editor