Thursday, July 7, 2016

Student Activists Bring Demands to the Table. Not Everyone Leaves Satisfied.

The Chronicle of Higher Education
By Arielle Martinez
July 8, 2016

hen Patrick Elliott came to Claremont McKenna College last fall for his freshman year, tensions at the private liberal-arts institution were reaching a boiling point. In November protests over the college’s racial climate — including two hunger strikes — erupted on the campus, eventually leading to the resignation of the dean of students.
Those efforts "sparked a ton of conversation," said Mr. Elliott, a rising sophomore who is now chair of the diversity and inclusion board for the student government, the Associated Students of Claremont McKenna College. "It sparked a lot of dissent, but it provided CMC with the catalyst to have these conversations."

Mr. Elliott is a member of a steering committee for the college’s Personal and Social Responsibility Initiative. He and other students on the committee — which also has representatives from the faculty, staff, administration, and Board of Trustees — work with administrators to develop new diversity projects on the campus.

Now the administration is confronting the challenges of meeting student demands. While administrators stress the importance of compromise, patience, and careful planning, some students say there isn’t enough communication on what the college is doing to promote inclusivity.

Claremont McKenna is far from the only campus that is grappling with months-old student demands; dozens find themselves in similar situations. But the small Southern California campus was one of the first to begin responding to its students’ cries for better inclusivity. The slow negotiation that ensued illustrates just how difficult it will be for students and administrators across the country to satisfy everyone involved.

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