By Will Gu
Update: The pool party has now been postponed. Scripps College President Lara Tiedens sent out the following email to students this afternoon:
“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.”
After the Independent reported that event organizers segregated Friday’s pool party at Scripps College, barring white students from attending, the organizers changed their event’s description to allow all students regardless of race at the Claremont Colleges—a consortium consisting of Scripps College, Pomona College, Harvey Mudd College, Claremont McKenna College, and Pitzer College—to attend the pool party hosted at the college’s Sallie Tiernan Field House.
In a previous version of the Facebook event description, the organizers made it clear that the pool party was open only to students who identified as persons of color (POC):
“This event is only to 5C [Claremont Colleges] students identifying as POC.”
However, after the Independent’s article about the POC-only event reached a national audience, the organizers changed their events description to be more inclusive, and allow all students, including those who identify as white, to attend the pool party. The current version of Facebook event description states that the pool part “is open to all 5C [Claremont Colleges] students.”
Unlike the old event description, the new description, which does not bar white students from attending, avoids violating national civil rights legislation such as Title VI, and Scripps’s own anti-discrimination policy. Title VI prevents education institutions receiving federal funds—which includes nearly all private colleges including Scripps—from “discriminating when it comes to race, color, and national origin.” Recreational facilities at education institutions such as Sallie Tiernan House Pool must also abide by this law.
Students who were previously barred from the pool party supported the event organizers’ decision. One Pomona College student told the Independent that he “feel[s] relieved that the event hosts decided to open the party to the entire community, including to white-passing individuals such as myself. This way my POC friends are not forced to decide whether they want to spend time at the party or with me, but instead can have a fun time in an inclusive environment.”
“I believe this was the underlying purpose of the Civil Rights movement, and it’s nice to see that even on such a radically political campus we can still ultimately adhere to those ideals, albeit reluctantly,” he added.
Café con Leche—one of the event’s organizers and a student club at Scripps College aimed at providing “a forum for the discussion of social, political, and economic issues that affect women, particularly those of Latinx decent”—also changed its Facebook post advertising the pool party. In a previous version, Café con Leche made it clear that the event was “POC ONLYYYY.”
Now, an updated version (since deleted) only describes the pool party as a “POC centering space,” instead of explicitly barring students who were not POC.
The organizers of the pool party have yet to respond to the Independent’s inquiries about why they felt POC should have a pool party to themselves, if people should understand why POC would feel uncomfortable in a “white-dominated” space, and if non-POC “allies” were allowed to attend.
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
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.