Letter from a reader

Defend the Claremont McKenna College Students

Students who shut down a fascist speaker are harshly punished

July 25, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us


Three students have been suspended for a year and two others suspended for a semester by Claremont McKenna College (CMC) for staging a non-violent protest and blocking the entrance where white supremacist, fascist Heather Mac Donald was scheduled to speak last April.  (See “Cheers to Claremont Colleges Students: White Supremacist Fascist Shut Down at Claremont McKenna College,” April 11, 2017, Revolution newspaper @revcom.us).  Two other students have been placed on probation.  The College, as of this time, has not named the students.  Four of the students were seniors and had their degrees revoked pending completion of the suspensions, which will affect their ability to compete for jobs that require a college degree.  Those who are not seniors face the loss of financial aid, which could leave them unable to complete their degree programs.

Further, the college, which is 40 miles east of Los Angeles and is one of the seven affiliated Claremont Colleges, turned over “evidence” to the other colleges of involvement in the protest by students at the other campuses, and CMC has banned four of those students from “non-academic” activities on its grounds.

CMC, which is known mainly as a school of business and economics, is by far the most conservative of all the campuses at the Claremont Colleges, with Scripps College and Pitzer College being known as some of the most progressive colleges in the county.

Nana Gyamfi, an attorney for the students said, “The students were being held up as, ‘this is how we’ll whip you at the whipping post if you dare to speak up.’”  Clearly this is a signal from the administration to other students in order to shut them up and shut them down.

These outrageous actions by the CMC administration were meted out at a time when the students and faculty were on summer break, which means the campus community is unable to respond immediately to these fucked-up, retribution actions by the college.

Before the students and faculty left for summer break in May nearly 800 signed an open letter to college officials expressing concern over the “criminalization” of the students who participated in the protest.

Mac Donald was scheduled to speak on April 6 when over 200 student protesters surrounded the entrances to the building where she was going to speak.  In a Facebook post the protest organizers said, “We CANNOT and WILL NOT allow fascism to have a platform... To protect the current police and prison system means that you are maintaining the racist system which constantly murders and dehumanizes people of color.”

We need many, many more actions like this from students across the country and we can’t allow these college administrations to put a choke hold on any campus movement to stop fascism.

This was clearly laid out by Raymond Lotta in a speech he gave at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) earlier this year, “It IS Fascism—and the University Must Be a Zone of Resistance.”  (See Revolution newspaper, January 21, 2017, @revcom.us)  After running down what is fascism and the fascist program of the Trump/Pence regime, Lotta said, “… if students decide to engage in direct nonviolent action and take over buildings, they need the encouragement and involvement of their professors. We are fighting fascism that is aiming to consolidate itself.”

Lotta called for the campuses to “be turned into a zone(s) of resistance. Not sealed off from but opening into society—setting an example and inspiring others to act—and joining with others in mass resistance. People cannot fall into—and it behooves everyone to follow out—the logic of ‘preserving’ what we have or ‘my work.’ That is the politically and morally unacceptable logic of turning inward and turning your back on what is demanded of us at this perilous time. It is the logic, whatever one’s intentions, of complicity, of going along with horrors you never imagined possible but helped make possible—because you didn’t raise your head and you didn’t raise your voice when the costs were high.”

The students at CMC must be defended and we need to demand that these outrageous punishments be dropped and that the other Claremont colleges do not punish any of their students who were involved in this righteous action against a fascist.


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