College dean condemns student clubs blacklisting students

The Pomona College Dean of Students Office sent out an email to students on Thursday condemning clubs at the Claremont Colleges (5C’s)—an undergraduate college consortium in California consisting of Pomona, Harvey Mudd College, Claremont McKenna College, Scripps College, and Pitzer College—that have been excluding individual students based on anonymous complaints to electronic lists attached to event invitations.

Deans Avis Hinkson, the college’s dean of students, and Sue McCarthy wrote that while they “recognize many factors may have led to the use of such lists on campus, the practice of barring, bullying or otherwise punishing students in this manner must end immediately.”

[RELATED: Student op-ed: Outdoor clubs are too white]

In practice, anyone who sees a Facebook event page hosted by one of these 5C clubs can anonymously blacklist another student through a Google Form or other attached electronic form submission, with no necessary evidence of wrongdoing, and as a result, prevent that person from accessing or attending said event. These lists could be used to de facto bar individuals based on race, gender, sexual orientation, or political beliefs. 

A recent example of this practice occurred at an event called “VIVA Latino-América”  hosted on Pomona College’s campus that celebrated Latin music and culture. Part of the Facebook event description reads: “If you do not feel comfortable with any person attending the event due to any reason, then they will not be allowed to attend.” The description then instructed people to anonymously enter names into a Google Document, for which a link was also attached.

The result was that if somebody did not like a certain student or deemed that student to be a threat to themselves, the student could be barred from the party for no reason apart from the subjective claim that a certain individual’s presence made them uncomfortable.

[RELATED: Scripps hosts ‘no whites allowed’ pool party]

However, while the deans acknowledged that the blacklists could be used to prevent sexual violence by certain students, acknowledging “the many challenges survivors/victims face here and nationwide,” they encouraged students to report such matters through the college’s established reporting procedures.

“Pomona is dedicated to providing resources for confidential support and promoting a campus culture of care and respect. For this and all forms of discrimination and harassment, Pomona is committed to providing a formal complaint resolution process that is equitable,” the email said.

The email sent by the Dean of Students Office added that “the use of anonymous allegations of misconduct to socially isolate or exclude students should not take the place of the College’s established procedures, which encourage reporting, provide support and ensure that all parties are treated fairly and that allegations of discrimination, harassment and/or sexual misconduct are confidentially handled and thoroughly investigated.”

[RELATED: Claremont students refuse to live with whites]

Jack Weber, a first-year student attending Pomona told the Independent that he “[doesn’t] think that clubs should be able to blacklist students. Pomona College should strive to push students outside of their intellectual comfort zone. Excluding students with different or ‘uncomfortable’ views works against that mission.”

The email included a warning that the college “will be contacting student leaders of all registered student organizations to remind them of their obligations under the College’s non-discrimination [policy] and other policies and that any future use of such lists may result in organizational and individual disciplinary sanctions.”

This article was originally published in The Claremont Independent, a conservative student newspaper affiliated with the Leadership Institute’s Campus Leadership Program. Its articles are republished here with permission.

Follow The Claremont Independent on Twitter: @CmontInd