Dear CMC Community:
As you know, in a coordinated attempt to shut down Heather Mac Donald’s lecture last night, a large group of students from the Claremont Colleges, including a small number of CMC students and some individuals from external communities, gathered to protest and blocked guests from entering the Athenaeum.
Based on the judgment of the Claremont Police Department, we jointly concluded that any forced interventions or arrests would have created unsafe conditions for students, faculty, staff, and guests. I take full responsibility for the decision to err on the side of these overriding safety considerations.
Notwithstanding these efforts to stifle a speaker, Heather Mac Donald was able to give her presentation to a small audience at the Athenaeum. We also live-streamed her talk. Nearly 250 people viewed the presentation live, and her presentation that is posted on our CMC homepage has already been viewed over 1,400 times. In the end, the effort to silence her voice effectively amplified it to a much larger audience.
Blocking access to buildings violates College policy. CMC students who are found to have violated policies will be held accountable. We will also give a full report to the other Claremont Colleges, who have responsibility for their own students.
Finally, the breach of our freedoms to listen to views that challenge us and to engage in dialogue about matters of controversy is a serious, ongoing concern we must address effectively. Accordingly, we will be developing new strategies for how best to protect open, safe access to our events.
I want to thank all of the staff, students, and faculty who worked to manage the evening at the Athenaeum, to keep everyone safe, and to ensure that Heather Mac Donald was able to communicate her presentation.
We will be in touch with further developments.
Hiram E. Chodosh
Claremont McKenna College
2016 CMC Convocation remarks of President Hiram E. Chodosh on our commitments to freedom of inquiry, speech, and association