Pitzer profs conspire to 'shut...down' conservative newspaper
Several faculty members at Pitzer College recently discussed launching an “investigation” of a student paper for accurately reporting a student’s public comments about “cultural appropriation.”
After The Claremont Independent reported that Latino students at Pitzer College are demanding that white women not wear “hoop earrings,” professors and administrators at the Claremont Colleges took to public Facebook posts to vent their frustrations, proposing free speech limits on campus and an “investigation” to shut down the conservative student journal.
“We have a serious problem with The Claremont Independent media outlet bullying young women of color at the Claremont Colleges and illegally posting their emails exposing them to violence,” Suyapa Portillo, an Assistant Professor of Chicano-Latino Studies at Pitzer College, recently posted to her public Facebook page. “This is dangerous, irresponsible slander and [is] unacceptable. The minute one of our women of color students feels unsafe on campus ALL of our students of color and faculty of color are unsafe. #STOPBullying #TitleIX #ShutItDown #StopHate.”
As per her faculty profile on Pitzer’s website, Portillo’s research interests include “Gender and labor history in the Americas,” “Central American immigrants and migration,” and “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender human rights in Central America.”
In addition to being regularly active in anti-establishment and anti-Trump protests in the Los Angeles area, Portillo has published blog posts on such topics as the “Queer Contingent and the Politics of Inclusion” for the Huffington Post.
Portillo provided no argument or evidence for any of her allegations against the Independent, nor did she explain how reporting on free speech made in the public sphere could constitute “bullying” or merit removing the First Amendment rights to free press of her own students.
Just days after the original Independent article went viral and long before Portillo’s post, Vice President of Student Affairs at Pitzer Brian Carlisle clarified in an email to the student body that “comments on the Student Talk listserv” are public and are therefore “not protected from redisclosure by other students.” Beyond this clarification, Pitzer College’s website dictates that “Studentemail@example.com is an unmoderated listserv for general use, lost and found, social events and others. It is an optional list and students are not required to be subscribed.”
In spite of Dean Carlisle’s comments and public information available on Pitzer’s website, several administrators speculated alongside Portillo as to what might be done to “protect” speech by students from scrutiny by their peers.
Melinda Herrold-Menzies, the Associate Dean of Faculty at Pitzer College–again, after Carlisle’s email was sent, and in apparent ignorance of the Pitzer website page addressing this very question–asked in the comment section on Portillo’s post, “Does anyone [know] what the actual privacy policies are for posts on student-talk [the campus-wide email thread]? Is this an issue we should take up to better protect our students?”
Tricia Morgan, the Associate Director of the Community Engagement Center at Pitzer College, joined the conversation, stating that such a policy ought entail “protecting student names, images, email addresses, club associations, and social media from posting pictures of fliers, campus art, etc.”
Portillo expresses agreement with those sentiments, concluding that “a clear investigation is critical.”
None of the professors or administrators involved in the exchange have responded to requests for comment.
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