Claremont University Consortium: Free Speech Silenced by Administrators

Category: Free Speech
Schools: Claremont University Consortium

At the Claremont University Consortium in California, there were several blatant attacks on constitutionally protected free speech. At Scripps College, flyers for a “white party” were criticized by the administration and a “cultural epithet and offensive drawing on the write and wipe board of a student’s room” was erased. At Harvey Mudd College, a student’s message on a whiteboard “Hillary is a foxy lesbian” was erased and campus security was notified. These and several other cases highlighted by student writers on campus shed light on potential systemic violations of student speech rights at the Consortium.

  • Group faults colleges over speech issues

    April 10, 2008

    An organization dedicated to defending individual rights at colleges has sent a letter to the Claremont Colleges objecting to administrative responses to student speech deemed offensive. In its March 18 letter, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education said it was concerned about the “chilling effect on free speech caused by several announcements … in response to student expression.” The letter outlined three messages sent by college administrators in response to recent incidents. In February, a dean at Scripps College called for a boycott of a student party at Claremont McKenna College after objecting to fliers for the event she […]

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  • Why the Claremont University Consortium Should Revise Its Policy on ‘Bias Related Incidents’

    July 28, 2010

    Last week, I wrote about an exchange between FIRE and Washington State University (WSU) that led WSU to promise to make changes to its “Bias Hotline” policy that would bring the policy into compliance with the First Amendment. I wrote that a revision along such lines would be a great benefit to students on WSU’s campus, and that more universities should do the same in light of the abuses of bias incident policies that we see each year. (Indeed, in our 2009 Spotlight report (PDF) on speech codes, we highlighted these policies and their proclivity for being used to restrict […]

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  • Student Op-Ed Confronts “Bias-Incident Protocol” at Claremont Consortium

    November 16, 2009

    The Claremont Consortium in California requires that an e-mail be sent to students at all five colleges in the Consortium whenever there is a report of a “bias-related incident.” A bias related incident is defined by Pomona College (the definition varies slightly between the colleges) as follows: Bias-related incidents are expressions of hostility against another individual (or group) because of the other person’s (or group’s) race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, gender or sexual orientation, or because the perpetrator perceives that the other person (or group) has one or more of these characteristics. Depending on the circumstances, a bias-related […]

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  • FIRE and Free Speech on Campus: Are the Claremont Colleges Violating the California Constitution?

    September 4, 2008

    CFN member Charles Johnson wrote an excellent article yesterday in The Claremont Independent, where he serves as assistant editor. Johnson is a sophomore at Claremont McKenna College, one of five undergraduate colleges (along with Pomona College, Scripps College, Harvey Mudd College and Pitzer College) that make up The Claremont Colleges. The article, entitled “FIRE and Free Speech on Campus: Are the Claremont Colleges Violating the California Constitution?” explores the state of free speech in the Claremont College system. Johnson begins by describing the case of Peter Musurlian, an independent filmmaker who posted a YouTube video critical of a lecture hosted […]

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  • Claremont Consortium Responds to FIRE’s Letter via School Newspaper

    April 29, 2008

    As we reported on The Torch last Friday, there have been several challenges to free expression at The Claremont University Consortium. FIRE wrote a letter to Robert A. Walton, CEO of The Claremont University Consortium, questioning the efforts by several Claremont administrators to censor speech and although we never heard back directly from the administration, they responded through one of Claremont’s student newspapers, The Student Life. In the article, Pomona President David Oxtoby acknowledges FIRE’s commitment to free speech, but also “feels these email notifications of bias related incidents do not suppress free speech at all and that these actions […]

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  • Double Standard at Claremont Colleges

    April 25, 2008

    Over the past few months, FIRE has been notified of several challenges to free expression at The Claremont University Consortium—a group of five undergraduate colleges and two graduate schools in California. In early February, Scripps College Dean of Students Debra Wood sent an e-mail to all Scripps students in response to flyers posted on campus for a “White Party,” where attendees were encouraged to wear white clothing. Photos on the advertisements included scantily clad African-American women. Wood’s e-mail claimed that the flyers harmed “not only women and African Americans, but all of us here at the colleges and undermines our […]

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