A student group at Scripps College in Claremont California planned a little fun over a weekend earlier this month, but not everyone was invited. The group, Cafe Con Leche, organized a pool party for students at the college and a host of other colleges in the area, but the event was only for people of color.
The party which was scheduled from 7 to 10 p.m. at a pool on campus was a way for people of color to come together and build a sense of community, according to the group. Critics of the party say that the event violated school guidelines and that it may actually have been illegal.
According to The Claremont Independent, a student run newspaper, “Because Scripps College receives federal assistance, it is bound by Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VI states, ‘Schools and colleges that receive federal funds must operate without discriminating when it comes to race, color, and national origin’”.
“Scripps College is committed to a policy of equal opportunity and no differentiation will be made based on race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, sexual orientation, veteran status, or the presence of a disability,” the school’s anti-discrimination policy reads.
The move comes a month after reports that the Annenberg School for Journalism and Communications, also in California, hung a mural that read, “Dismantle whiteness and misogyny on this campus.” The mural was created by a student artist. Professors defended the mural, saying that while students don’t have to agree with its message, they should at least acknowledge the experience other students have had.
“The signage is meant to offer grounding of terms and ideas,” communications professor Alison Trope said in a statement. “There is no expectation that everyone agree with the statement offered by the artists, but hopefully viewers can acknowledge the experience of peers on campus around these issues.”
Whiteness was defined as “…an unmarked and unnamed place of advantage, privilege or domination; a lens through which white people tend to see themselves and others,”the group responsible for the mural said. The statement was a part an art collective created by When Women Disrupt, a group whose mission is to raise awareness of “race, intersectionality and misogyny,” according to its Facebook page.
Some on campus argued that the location of the mural wasn’t public enough and that they wish more disruption would have been caused in order to foster more controversy. In fact, some believe the placement of the mural was intentional in order to limit its impact.
“It’s placed in a very hidden area of campus where it’s not usually seen and I think that speaks to the administration and how they want to frame and direct the conversation and the impact,” said communications major Claire Porter, a senior.
“The fact that it is inward-facing not outward facing — all of these factors are intentional from the administration and I think this project would have been much more powerful if the artists were given more freedom,” she added.
The pool party at Scripps was subsequently postponed because of safety concerns. “The pool party has been postponed due to concerns about student safety in the wake of numerous phone calls and emails from the public expressing hostility and threatening physical violence,” read an email by Scripps College President Lara Tiedens to students.
Organizers later desegregated the party voluntarily, opening it to people of all races and backgrounds.
The mural at Annenberg was challenged by an “upstart” poster that read “White male Privilege Is a Myth.” It was taken down shortly thereafter. It was unclear who removed the competing poster. The Daily Trojan reported that it was not taken down by faculty.
Photo by Lure Photography via Wikimedia Commons