Thursday, March 25, 2004

CMC - still in the news - and not in a good way

I don't think I've posted on the resolution to the situation at my alma mater, Claremont McKenna College. There was a "hate crime," anti-hate rallies, a day of cancelled classes, and the the revelation that the targeted prof DID IT TO HERSELF, at least according to the FBI and Claremont PD.


There's been lots of ink spilled over this - in the LA Times and today in the Sac Bee.

Unlike milk, however, there is use in crying over spilled ink.

The thrust of this article is that justice will be hard to find in dealing with the accused professor. Hate crime laws weren't drawn with an eye to, well, I guess self-hatred is what you'd call it. So the cops are looking to nab her on a misdemeanor charge of filing a false police report.

It does seem a bit light, doesn't it?

The column goes on to quote the current ASCMC president Marc Bathgate (who'd have arrived at campus after my departure, so I don't know him). He says, rightly, "the cynics are out in force now." He says the issue has become (warning: understatement ahead) "a little divisive" because those who saw the rallies as an overreaction feel vindicated.

I feel vindicated - but not because I thought the rallies were an overreaction.

I feel vindicated because that's my college y'all are talking about. I was way too involved in nearly every aspect of campus life - save athletics (though I was the RBI leader for the 1999 Green Intramural softball team and damn proud of it - suck it, North Apartments). I knew the administration, the faculty, and the student body relatively well. And I raged at every incident of student misconduct that was inadequately addressed by the administration.

But these incidents - the destruction of dorm property, messing with sprinklers or fire alarms, dumping trash cans, and a general inconsiderateness that comes with trust funds - were far different in character from this alleged attack.

Plus, what the media covered as a "rash" of racially motivated, hate-fueled incidents, was really only 3 things - not all of which happened at CMC.

Now, before you get me for saying ONLY 3 hate crimes - I'm not that heartless. No "hate crimes" are okay. But CMC is not a breeding ground for tomorrow's neo-Nazis, despite what the pysch and lit departments say about the geezers in gov and econ (calm, I have friends in all of those departments and they know I love them).

I feel vindicated because despite the misbehaving, typically ass-like students we have - we aren't that kind of campus. I applaud efforts to addresses campus misconduct. I just wish it applied to every badly-behaved CMCer, of which there have been many. I feel vindicated because I am glad we aren't those people. That we do not hate like that.

So the professor won't suffer the long arm of the law. Fine. So long as her actions aren't brushed aside by those painting CMC with hate as being "besides the point." So long as she is immediately dismissed and never finds a home in any institution of higher learning again. So long as she never becomes a hero to anyone for her work in changing the landscape using hate.

I love my college with a passion I reserve for very few things outside my family and close friends. It will always be my home - and anyone who dares deface it or defame the family name . . . . well, I'll do my best to see that they are treated in a deserving manner.

The column poses two, nearly equally unappealing options:

If police are right, a respected group of liberal arts colleges has been turned upside-down, its young people frightened and manipulated by a person they had trusted.

If police are wrong, the reputation of a teacher who spoke out against hate is all but destroyed.

I never believed it to be a CMCer. I hope I'm right. And I think the facts are on my side.

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