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rockin’ the boat

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dec 10 | vol VIII iss 2

Lethal Concoction The FDA may disapprove of the popular “blackout in a can,” but what do 5C students think? >> Survey results inside pages 12—13

in(side) the port(side): campus, national, international news TRANS STUDENTS An evaluation of queer issues and policies at the Claremont Colleges

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GANGS AT HOME A culture of violence has plagued the Inland Empire for decades volumeVIII issue2

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MULTICULTURALISM Europe’s struggles to integrate immigrants parallel America’s |

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Claremont McKenna moderated me. In my past five semesters here I’ve undergone a substantial transformation: from an impassioned first-time voter who painted the iconic Obama “O” on the back windshield of her beat-up Hyundai (dubbed “the Obamobile”) and who dreamt of devising media strategies for top-tier candidates; to an historian-in-training, who accidentally ditched class in mid-November because she lost herself examining German-language primary sources in Honnold-Mudd’s World War I section. (And I wonder why my friends call me a librarian.) I suppose I’ve never been much of a radical, but I never expected to turn into an historian. If anything, I thought I’d pursue a career in investigative journalism and fight “the man” through stealth reporting and Pulitzer-winning pieces. At CMC, however, I began thinking that I was “the man.” I realized this a mere month into my freshman year, when, donning a suit on the way to Karl Rove’s Athenaeum talk, I became the target of protesters from the other colleges. In response, I did what any other proud CMCer would do: I brushed them off as “crazy Pitzer kids.”

Some say CMCers work within the system to promote meaningful change, but I think we can, and do, work without it. Like my 18-year-old self, many of us strive to hold, or help others attain, elected office. Countless others aspire to lobby for a cause, devise policies, or evaluate the government’s potential courses of action. While this commitment to public service is admirable, it should not limit our definition of purely pragmatic activism. Too often does the binary trope “CMCers work within the system, and Pitzer kids try and fail to work without it” cloud our acknowledgment of our campus’s hidden activism. Senior Ashley Scott, for instance, stands outside Collins Dining Hall without fail every Friday morning – 35º or boiling – and sells challahs to benefit Sudan relief and local charities. More broadly, last summer’s 24 Human Rights Fellows, and others with humanitarian internships around the globe, bettered society through extragovernmental channels.

Many criticize CMC’s dearth of activism – and they have a point. We neither act nor look like activists. When injustice runs rampant on our campus or in our nation, where are our carefully orchestrated megaphone chants? Where are our picket signs, our wristbands, our ever-stylish “Save Darfur” t-shirts?

And here at the Port Side, we practice activist, progressive journalism that panders to no administration. Like me, this publication has undergone a transformation. Throughout my tenure as Editor-inChief, we have elevated our content from what often amounted to a regurgitation of New York Times editorials to an increased focus on campus news and opinions. Why? Because trying to change what we can actually change makes us much more realistic activists.

These visible signs of discontent, I think, are deliberately absent. If we truly view ourselves in opposition to “crazy Pitzer kids,” our means of protest must necessarily evolve into something different.

So, as I say goodbye and departwww.claremontportside.com/blog for my historian-in-training semester in Vienna, I know that my activist spirit will live on in the Port Side’s pages – even if my appearance and actions scream, “Librarian!”

the CLAREMONTdecember 10 | vol VIII iss 2

editor’s note

Where Picket Signs Go to Die

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EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Michelle Lynn Kahn PUBLISHER Alyssa Roberts EDITOR EMERITUS MANAGING EDITORS Andrew Bluebond CAMPUS Alex Heiney WEB EDITOR NATIONAL Nicholas Rowe Jeremy B. Merrill INTERNATIONAL Russell M. Page COPY EDITORS Kayla Benker, Sara Birkenthal, Derek Ha, Jacinth Sohi, Andy Willis ILLUSTRATORS Laura Bottorff, Chelsea Carlson, Jack Flannery The Claremont Port Side is dedicated to providing the Claremont Colleges with contextualized, intelligent reports to advance debate among students and citizens. This is a progressive newsmagazine that offers pertinent information and thoughtful analysis on the issues confronting and challenging our world, our country, and our community. Each article in the Claremont Port Side reflects the opinion of its author(s) and does not represent the Claremont Port Side, its editors, its staff, or the Claremont Colleges. Letters, Questions, Comments? editor@claremontportside.com

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Campus Progress works to help young people — advocates, activists, journalists, artists — make their voices heard on issues that matter. Learn more at CampusProgress.org.


Inside the Claremont Closet Is being gay at CMC as difficult as the QRC says?

By Kimberly Ngai Sta f f Writer, CM C ‘ 1 4

The LGBT “invisible minority” usually copes with the difficulties of coming out by establishing and joining studentrun clubs or groups on campus. The Alliance for Queer Understanding and Acceptance (AQUA), CMC’s LGBT group, recently disbanded due to poor membership. Now, CMC is the only campus without an LGBT group.

what she had to say were valid points, but they very much overstated the situation.” According to QRC statistics of the 5Cs, CMC has the least number of students publicly out and the most still trapped “in the closet.” Zahner thinks that, because CMC has a high concentration of students from conservative upbringings, parents are responsible for these numbers. “Conservative parents are more likely to have negative views on homosexuality and would therefore make it harder for their kids to come out,” he says. Di Bartolo, however, attributes this phenomenon to a mentality stemming from the college’s men-only founding: the development of an unjust prejudice, which continues to pressure students into traditional gender roles.

Greg Zahner, an openly gay CMC junior, defends the school’s attitude toward LGBT students: “You don’t have to stay closeted or hide in a South Quad tower in order to get a lot out of your CMC experience.” He says his two years of living in North Quad and his having a football player as a best friend tend “to shock my friends at the other 5Cs, because they think homophobia runs rampant across our campus.”

But Zahner disagrees, citing instead CMC’s “focus on leadership, management, and pragmatism in fields like business, finance, economics, or politics.” Though these are traditionally more masculine qualities and professional pursuits, “gay people can be very successful,” he says. “They definitely fit into CMC’s hyper-masculine culture.”

A recent CMC graduate, who wishes to remain anonymous, agrees. “As an ‘out’ CMCer, I certainly had a different experience vis-à-vis my sexuality than others at the rest of the 5Cs.” It was not, however, as extreme as di Bartolo claims. This alum, who knew di Bartolo through the QRC, saw “a major anti-CMC bias with her. A lot of

While Zahner does believe that the QRC may exaggerate its claim that the recent suicides may lead to an epidemic in the Claremont community, he still takes the dialogue seriously. “Those at CMC are especially aware that suicide is a rare choice and always a wrong choice,” he says. “For every gay person I know, open or closeted, it gets better.”

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According to di Bartolo, “No one wants to be gay when they first understand they are. When you realize you’re different, it’s a mourning process.” After coping with internalized homophobia, students must accept their orientation, adjust to it, and move on. While di Bartolo thinks the process is universal, she concedes that “there’s something noticeably different at Claremont McKenna.”

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The Claremont Colleges’ Queer Resource Center (QRC) believes that 5C students face a similar problem. Emphasizing “the unprecedented number of deaths nationally and those who have come close to committing suicide within the 5Cs,” QRC Coordinator Adriana di Bartolo contends that this “epidemic is caused by unrealistic expectations of the community.” And Claremont McKenna students, she believes, are most vulnerable.

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From the beginning of the school year through October, six closeted students between the ages of 8 and 18 committed suicide nationwide. Each fell victim not to academic stress but to social ostracism, because they either identified as part of the LGBT community or “seemed gay” to taunting classmates. Far too many students continue to struggle to come to terms with their sexuality and to deal with it in the face of their parents and peers.


Green With Economic Envy

As China subsidizes green technology, America stands in the way By Samantha Morse Staf f Writer, Pit z er ‘ 1 4

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The Obama administration garnered enthusiasm from U.S. companies and contempt from the Chinese when it launched its recent 90-day investigation into China’s subsidizing the manufacture of solar and wind energy products, energy-saving batteries, and energy-efficient vehicles. Jim Lehman, Professor Emeritus of Economics at Pitzer, is intrigued by the attention that Americans are giving to what he sees as a relatively small issue. He also notes an important difference between being a worker and a policy-maker: while the workforce primarily focuses on the economy, policy-makers need to see the larger picture and be aware of environmental factors as well.

“President Obama showed again today that fighting for U.S. workers and their jobs is his top priority.”

ties between the Chinese and U.S. subsidy practices, is the Obama administration’s intense scrutiny merited?

Yet many in Congress think the inquiries are not extensive enough. Senator Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) stated that “an investigation into China’s illegal subsidies for its clean energy industry is overdue, but it’s no substitute for dealing with China’s currency manipulation.” Moreover, in September, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a resolution threatening China with tariffs on a variety of exports.

Claremont McKenna freshman Nicholas Hobbs attributes the administration’s harsh scrutiny to China’s emergence as a major power. “I think China right now is under the spotlight, so they will be criticized no matter what they do,” he told the Port Side, adding that the subsidies are positive. “With China having over one billion people, they need to be a lot more concerned about environmental problems, namely carbon emissions, than a country of 300 million.”

Zhang Buobao, head of China’s National Energy Administration, calls the U.S. hypocritical, saying, “What America is blaming us for is exactly what they do themselves. If the U.S. government can subsidize companies, then why can’t we?”

So far, though, jobs have taken the focus. U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk called green technology “an engine for the jobs of the future” and noted that “this administration is committed to ensuring a level playing field for American workers, businesses, and green technology entrepreneurs.” The investigation was met with the quick approval of the American Iron and Steel Institute and the nation’s largest industrial firm, the United Steelworkers, which on Sept. 9 was the first to accuse China of violating World Trade Organization regulations through unfair subsidies. Together, the organizations declared, page 4

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Indeed, environmental conditions in China have come under much scrutiny. In 2007, a scathing New York Times article entitled “As China Roars, Pollution Reaches Deadly Extremes” revealed that 500 million Chinese people lacked access to clean drinking water and that only 1% of them breathed clean air by European Union standards. Just three years later, China has made great strides toward embracing environmentally friendly policies. It has signed the Kyoto Treaty, which the U.S. still has not done. China also produces more solar panels than the U.S. Yet, U.S. policy-makers still react furiously to the Chinese government’s subsidization of green technology.

Buobao is correct. The Obama administration has proposed $60 billion in subsidies for clean energy industries. There are also hidden “buy American clauses” on certain clean energy products. Given the similari-

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Amid the noise made by the United Steelworkers, the Obama administration, and legislators, there seems to be only one explanation for our hypocritically negative outlook on China’s green energy policy: we want China’s policies to be eco-friendly, as long as they do not hinder our economy.


The Oakland Riots, in Retrospect Violence stemmed from racial tensions and legal injustice

By Danielle Holstein Sta f f Writer, Pomon a ‘ 1 4

Then, in early November, the former officer received the minimum sentence of two years in prison. Though the jury recommended a longer sentence, the judge overruled, and Mehserle is not expected to spend any extra time in prison. Given that a white officer killed an unarmed black man who was lying on the ground, the short sentence surprised many. Hal Fairchild, Pitzer Professor of Psychology and Black Studies, explains, “The African American community has been besieged with assaults to its human dignity for centuries.” The Mehserle case, he says, was particularly egregious. “When a murderous cop gets two years – with time served – for killing an innocent black person, it is time to rebel.” And that is what happened. The perceived racism within the justice system spurred another violent outburst on the streets of Oakland. In addition to reports of personal and public property damage, many

The police arrested 152 protesters for reasons ranging from “disturbing the peace” to “vandalism.” Over a third of those arrested were not even from Oakland, but had travelled there to demand racial justice within the court system. Indeed, Grant has become the poster child for racial injustice: not only was he a victim of police violence when he was unarmed and on the ground, but his assailant was granted an abnormally short punishment in light of the crime. Neither peaceful nor quiet, Oakland’s uprising was a direct response to the court’s ruling and highlights the violent nature of the crime at stake.

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In July 2010, Mehserle was convicted of involuntary manslaughter instead of the graver charge of second-degree murder. To many, Mehserle’s luck in court seemed the product of racial favoritism. In response to the rulings, sporadic protests exploded abruptly, resulting in the destruction of residential and commercial property.

complained about the aggression toward the police attempting to quell the rioters. A car hit one officer; another’s gun was stolen and used against him.

Yet few acknowledge these parallels to Oakland’s legacy of racial tension. Given the media attention surrounding Grant and the smaller protests that occurred before November, the underlying issues leading up to this outburst were well-publicized for over two years. In the court case itself, a clear gap exists: a white judge ruled in favor of a white officer, and the length of his prison sentence seems to suggest racial acknowledgment and consideration. This gap in justice correlates invariably to a gap in perception. As Fairchild explains, “The powerless have few means to challenge authority, and so they resort to strategies that look, to some, like a ‘riot.’ To others, it is a ‘rebellion.’”

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On Jan. 1, 2009, transit officer Johannes Mehserle shot and killed Oscar Grant, whom he was trying to arrest at a train station. Grant was lying face down on the ground, defenseless, when he was shot, and Mehserle claimed that he mistook his gun for a taser. Despite his rationale, the violence triggered a strong emotional response. Here, again, was the all-too-familiar incident of a white cop shooting an unarmed black man.

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Massive and violent riots sprung up in Oakland, California this November. Despite citizens’ surprise when encountering broken windows and other forms of vandalism, these revolts were not sudden: they were the result of extended racial tension in the city.


Policies in Trans ition

A look into queer issues at the Claremont Colleges By Veronica Salas C on t r ibu t in g Wr it er, C M C ‘14

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In mid-November, Claremont McKenna’s Dean of Students Office sponsored a community dinner in the Village for queer students, faculty, staff, and their allies. While this event demonstrated commendable outreach to the trans student population, it also underscored a persistent problem at the 5Cs: the lack of integration of queer issues into conversations about the quality of student life at the Claremont Colleges. The email invitation for the dinner was sent only to those who had previously been involved with queer ally work at CMC. As it turns out, this email list included just a handful of students and faculty, which suggests that many either do not know how to become an ally, choose not to engage in outreach, and/or are unaware that a trans community exists at each of the Claremont Colleges, including Scripps. A 2008 report on LGBT student needs by the California Postsecondary Education Commission points to the importance of institutional and peer

Many either do not know how to become an ally, choose not to engage in outreach, and/or are unaware that a trans community exists at each of the Claremont Colleges. support for LGBT students. The report found that students who identified as LGBT reported lower levels of satisfaction and belonging than nonLGBT students. Not surprisingly, the Commission pointed to “campus climate,” or perceived levels of peer, faculty, and institutional support, as a major factor affecting LGBT students’ academic success. This finding demonstrates how apathy and ignorance about queer issues on campus can seriously alienate those who identify as gender variant and do not conform to societal expectations about gender. Among these are inter-sex, transgender, gay, lesbian, bisexual, and “genderqueer” individuals, the last of whom identify as neither male nor female. page 6

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This alienation may manifest in two ways: in a classroom setting, when a professor fumbles for the correct pronoun with which to address a trans student or expresses brazen confusion over perceived dichotomies between a student’s appearance and declared gender identity; or outside the classroom, in the derision of a gender non-conforming/gender fluid student or in the event that a trans staff member needs to use the restroom but does not have access to appropriate facilities. From both a humanitarian and human rights perspective, such alienation is deeply unsettling. Aside from depriving trans people of their right to dignity as human beings, this ill-treatment poses grave health and safety risks. Bullying can jeopardize a person’s – particularly a trans person’s – mental, emotional, and physical well being and lead to depression and/or poor academic performance. As a whole, the Claremont Colleges have embraced a remarkably progressive stance towards queer issues by providing queer students with services and facilities unique to their needs. This fall Pomona joined the ranks of Pitzer, Harvey Mudd, and only about 50 other colleges and universities nationwide that have adopted a gender-neutral housing policy, whereby males and females may room together, allowing for more comfortable housing assignments for many trans students. The 5Cs have further demonstrated sensitivity by allowing trans students to change their names on internal documents, school email addresses, and ID cards so that names correspond with gender identities. Still, more can always be done to accommodate queer students and foster a more welcoming environment. Here are some suggestions: 1. Some college forms include sex and gender identification questions that alienate the trans community. CMC’s check-box system, for instance, reinforces the gender binary, or the idea that there are only two genders, by offering only the categories of “male” and “female.” Pitzer, on the other hand, provides students with a blank line on which they can write their gender identities – a much more “transfriendly” approach.

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The forecast for change in these areas appears hopeful. QRC Coordinator Adriana di Bartolo assured the Port Side, “I’m in very close contact with all the Deans of Students and I have their full support.” The lingering question, however, is whether students and faculty can commit to becoming trans allies in the months and years to come.

3. The entire Consortium could better serve its trans community by switching its optional student medical insurance plan to one that covers hormone treatments and sexual reconstruction surgeries. The current plan lacks these procedures, which many trans students find integral to their gender expression and mental/ emotional well being. 4. Perhaps most importantly, the 5Cs could cultivate a more welcoming environment for the trans community by all adding “gender identity” and “gender expression” to their nondiscrimination policies. CMC and Scripps do not currently extend this protection to queer students, faculty, and staff.

scrutinizing the school’s transgender policy and calling for changes in many facets of student life, from housing policies to school-provided health insurance.

Student “transactivism” has already begun to seek these changes. In spring 2009, students enrolled in the Feminist Community Engagement course at Pomona spearheaded a project called the Transgender Education and

Most recently, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of the Claremont Colleges has added transgender rights on campus to its agenda. Members of the ACLU have tried to meet with the Deans at CMC to determine where the school currently volumeVIII issue2

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The QRC offers Ally Training workshops that prepare students and faculty for ally work in everyday situations, such as using preferred gender pronouns and intervening when others are misgendered. This ally work is perhaps the most important and difficult task left for the 5C community to tackle; it forces people to analyze how their conceptions of gender-appropriate behavior might estrange gender variant people. If we ever hope to build a campus climate that is friendly to all students, faculty, and staff – regardless of gender identity or gender expression – we must change the way we think about gender and sex. The safety and dignity of the 5C trans community depends on it.

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A similar example emerged from last spring’s Feminist Theory Seminar at Scripps, in which students wrote a paper

stands on issues affecting trans students. Here, the focus is on housing options, non-discrimination policies, and gender identification questions on school forms.

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Advocacy Coalition, whose efforts included coordinating a film and speaker series for the Queer Resource Center (QRC) and engaging in dialogue with the various Deans of the Claremont Colleges about adopting more “transfriendly” policies.

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2. All of the colleges could enhance their facilities to better accommodate transgender students by installing more private changing spaces in locker rooms, more unisex bathrooms across campus, and more campus maps and signs denoting the locations of such facilities. Such enhancements would ease the harassment and distress that many trans students experience in public restrooms and locker rooms.


M O M , A P P L E P I E , A N D T H E H O M I E S : An Am By Rolando Gutierrez Contributing Wr it er, C MC ‘ 1 4 At the Claremont Colleges, the prospect of gang violence seems, quite simply, out of place. Many, especially those not from Southern California, would never suspect that the city of Claremont is nestled not only at the base of the beautiful Mt. Baldy but also amid several cities whose gang cultures have plagued their recent pasts and have only recently been brought under uneasy control. Deep ethnic divisions and lower-class neighborhoods continue to promote a thriving gang culture right in Claremont’s backyard. In the early 1960s, when Rancho Cucamonga was only Cucamonga and Los Angeles County was still covered with orange groves, my father entered this world of gang violence. Born to a Hispanic father and a German immigrant mother, he soon moved from his farm-like home in the fringe areas of the then-emerging city to the neighborhoods, or barrios, of Corona. There, in the now infamous-amonglocals community of Home Gardens, my father grew up learning a single rule that would shape the next two decades of his life: do anything to survive.

going into Pomona or Chino since he was a cholo, a Mexican gangster, from a Corona gang known as the Banditos. From Corona Junior High to Kimble Continuation School to Corona High School, my father saw the worst of the gang culture, though never quite completely falling into the culture himself. My father was in numerous fights and was shot at several times. In one instance, a drive-by shooting missed him and hit his cousin instead, the bullet tearing off part of her foot. He also saw the gangs’ sheer power, once witnessing the shooting down of a police helicopter as it circled Fourth Street Park, the local rendezvous point for the eight gangs in Corona. As my father got older and dropped out of school, his life seemed doomed to the vicious cycle of lawlessness. A single event, however, would soon cause him to leave the cycle altogether. One of my father’s best friends, a young man named Eddie, had seemingly escaped the violent culture of his hometown by joining the military. While on leave and visiting his family and friends, he decided to attend a local party. He stopped by my father’s house to ask if he were going. My father, working on his car, told him that he would go later – and then watched Eddie leave for the last time in his life.

The barrios of Corona, along with many similar neighborhoods throughout the Inland Empire, were culturally separate from the rest of the communities. The combination of low-income families and a lack of opportunities for the youth bred a gang culture in which education was not valued. Most simply accepted that they would be killed soon regardless.

At the party, a small group of cholos began to harass and beat one of Eddie’s friends. As Eddie tried to help his friend up from where the gang had left him lying, a cholo in Home Gardens shot him twice in the back.

My father quickly succumbed to this lifestyle. For him, it was the only way to survive in a world where he could be shot for

This mindless death shook my father, who sought revenge. Luckily for me and my siblings, one of his other friends got to the

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merican Dream emerges from a culture of violence in our own backyard cholos first, shooting Eddie’s murderer multiple times at point-blank range. My father then made perhaps the most important choice of his life: to leave this place. Not wanting to raise his family in the same environment where the weak were preyed upon and those who escaped were still subject to the culture’s brutality, he moved our family away from the Inland Empire to the desert town of Hesperia.

law enforcement statistics, Pomona has 200 different gangs. Again, while this does not

Not wanting to raise his family in the same environment where the weak were preyed upon and those who escaped were still subject to the culture’s brutality, [my father] moved our family away from the Inland Empire to the desert town of Hesperia.

There, he did what most men of his background could not, and still cannot, do. He raised four children in a place where they never had to worry about getting shot, where they could receive an education and not fear being beaten for being different, where they did not have to survive but only had to live. Two of his children hold doctorate degrees. One is on her way to culinary school. The last, his only son, is not part of a gang or in prison; he is here at Claremont McKenna, baffled by how such a place of learning and culture can exist in the bosom of cities that were not just plagued by the violence of his father’s stories, but still suffer from the violence of groups like Pomona’s “12th Street” gang and Chino’s “Sinners.” What has him more confused is how a young cholo from Corona rose from an existence of this pure, mostly forgotten violence and achieved an American Dream simply by choosing to leave.

necessarily mean that Pomona is a dangerous city, it does reveal something that many people often overlook, regardless of where they are: violence. The tales of my father’s experiences in the Inland Empire, including many more that were not revealed here, occurred a mere 25 years ago. While many of his past battlegrounds are now silent, gangs still boldly defy law enforcement, claim territory, and kill many. In the end, we must acknowledge their existence and attempt to mend the structural problems these communities face. As college students, we are the nation’s future leaders. We can help many more underprivileged individuals, like my father, make the fateful decision to leave the cycle of violence and the hopelessness that surrounds it.

Though violent crimes in the entire Inland Empire are below the national average, they still exist in some areas. According to the FBI, the average rate of violent crime per capita in the city of Pomona is higher than the national average. And, according to

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Is Multiculturalism Dead?

Europe’s struggles to integrate immigrants parallel America’s By Manassinee Moottatarn C on t r ibu t in g Wr it er, C MC ‘13

Merkel’s blunt exposition highlights what many have acknowledged for years: Germany is not a proactive multicultural society. According to the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, 55% of Germans deem Arabs “unpleasant” and over 33% believe that Integration cannot be mis- immigrants are taken for assimilation. There “overrunning” the country. The must be a way to maintain a bicul- study also noted that “far-right turalism that is a reality of today attitudes” are “at the center of ” but simply ignored by politicians. German society.

— Serap Öndüç, German Language Resident at Scripps College

Such negative attitudes reflect and may stem from Germany’s historical citizenship policy. Until 2000, migrant children born in Germany received their parents’ nationality and were not automatically German citizens. This nativism, embodied in the German principle of leitkultur (leading culture), alienated newcomers and persists today.

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In an unprecedented statement that sparked international outcry, Chancellor Angela Merkel admitted that German multiculturalism, in particular the 1960s integration of Turkish guest workers, has “failed utterly.”

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Amid these political pressures, much can be done to facilitate multiculturalism. According to Pomona German Professor Frederike von Schwerin-High, Europe’s historically respected public schools could play a large, socializing role. “It would be very informative,” she says, “to tap into the expertise of older immigrants and invite retirees of Turkish descent and other migration backgrounds into classrooms and ask them to tell the story of their adjustment to Germany, of good and bad aspects of their immigration.” Germany’s struggles with multiculturalism provide an interesting comparison to the United States. Alice Mirlesse, a Claremont McKenna sophomore from Geneva, Switzerland, experienced the difference firsthand. “I feel the U.S. has a tradition of welcoming newcomers,” she says. “Europe, apart from ex-colonial links, experiences far less of the ‘melting pot’ syndrome.” The American “melting pot” tradition is embodied in the symbolic slogan “e pluribus unum” (out of many, one). Defining the nation by the immigrants that land on its shores, the U.S. tends to celebrate, not simply tolerate, cultural differences. From foreign-language ballots to ethnic festivals and history months, multiculturalism has come to characterize American life.

Serap Öndüç, the German Language Resident at Scripps, shares her personal insight. While her Turkish immigrant parents “have worked all their life, adhered to the German Constitution… and paid their taxes,” they are now considered “superfluous and often experience treatment as second-class people.” Their accent, she adds, is an external barrier to acceptance.

But is it all just symbolism? Centuries of discrimination against and mistreatment of minorities still prevail, and within a generation, white Americans will no longer be in the majority. The most recent influx of Latino immigrants, who now constitute over 15% of the U.S. population, is being told it can never be truly American. While the U.S. accepts more legal immigrants as permanent residents than all the world’s other countries combined and is often hailed as the model “post-racial” country, it remains somewhat segregated – not by law, but by a grassroots nativism similar to Germany’s.

For the most part, Europe’s ruling elite has failed to acknowledge that a large percentage of immigrants are simply not integrated into European society. In an attempt to be politically correct, they have discouraged meaningful discourse and ignored deeper, structural problems. And by branding those who oppose multiculturalism as racial bigots, they have driven an increasing number of Europeans to extreme right-wing parties that promise to take action.

In both the U.S. and Europe, multiculturalism is a two-way effort. “Angela Merkel needs to acknowledge that integration cannot be mistaken for assimilation,” Öndüç says. “There must be a way to maintain a biculturalism that is a reality of today but simply ignored by politicians.” While this biculturalism may spur its own conflicts, it promotes a diverse, tolerant society – a society in which a Turkish-German, like Öndüç, can represent Germany abroad and teach its language.

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Picking on Plato

CMC should reevaluate its classical approach to political philosophy Emphasizing Greek classics and preRousseau thought, Claremont McKenna’s Government Department teaches introductory political philosophy differently than most. Whereas CMC prides itself on close reading of primary texts with no secondary interpretation, most schools expose students to a variety of mostly post-1900 secondary sources on subjects like civil responsibility and controversial government actions.

Nadon thinks that the discipline’s origins

So, rather than reading derivatives of Rousseau in order to understand critics of bourgeois, commercial society, Nadon advocates studying Rousseau because his analysis is more radical. Likewise, Nadon thinks that “no work challenges contemporary prejudices so much as Plato’s Republic, most especially the prejudice that ‘philosophy’ and ‘tradition’ can easily co-exist.” But if modern applications are possible, CMC professors generally fail to contextualize theories and explicitly highlight their contemporary significance. “Students should do that for themselves, and will do it better for having done it themselves,” says Nadon, who does not think it is his job to profess or preach. Many college students, however, need help understanding and evaluating dense philosophical texts. Weinberg believes that it is the professor’s duty to connect volumeVIII issue2

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contemporary events to theory, allowing students to truly understand the material. Whereas the Scripps class is more accessible, CMC’s tailors to a certain type of student. CMC professors seem to assume that undergraduates have the same level of critical thinking skills as graduate students. Though lecture-based courses may be the manifestation of professors’ high expectations, they often result in disinterest. Yet we should not eschew the classics altogether. They are worth learning. Pomona sophomore Michael Vassilevsky thinks that only few noteworthy political thinkers, like John Stuart Mill, came after Rousseau. He sees a contemporary split in political philosophy into two areas: political science, “which has some interesting insights but isn’t exciting,” and postmodern “critical” philosophy, “which is excessively influenced by Marxism.” If we truly want to educate well-rounded future leaders, we should give them the opportunity to learn all approaches. At CMC, that might mean incorporating an alternative to the current Government 80 course, required for all government majors, or even changing the original syllabus to better reflect the breadth of philosophical traditions. A mixture is needed.

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CMC Political Philosophy Professor Christopher Nadon disagrees: “There is no new and complex way of thinking politics that supersedes the classics like a new scientific theory does.”

reveal most clearly the radical character of philosophical thought and its political implications. “The first thinker who stakes out a new claim often has a better understanding of its foundations and implications,” he says. “He can’t accept that premise as part of any tradition, but rather has to establish it and think it through for himself.”

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Introduction to Political Philosophy at Scripps, for instance, is more mainstream, incorporating various schools of modern thought and exposing students to valuable secondary interpretations. In her course, Professor Rivka Weinberg explores the divide between the public and private spheres that defines the scope of state power. This, she says, is “a modern question that should be informed by modern texts.” While canonical thinkers like Rousseau and Locke do handle this question, 20th-century philosophers better address the modern state.

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By Wendy Qian Sta f f Writer, CMC ‘ 1 3


The Legacy of “Liquid Cocaine”

Despite FDA regulations, survey shows students still “loco” for Loko

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By Anna Pickrell Staf f Writer, S c r ipps ‘ 1 4

and Drug Administration (FDA) gave Phusion Projects, the makers of Four Loko, 30 days to prove their popular Rewind back to 2005: Arrested Develop“blackout in a can” to be “generally recment was tragically cancelled, Madonognized as safe (GRAS).” The warning na came back to the real world with put Four Loko under nationwide scru“Hung Up,” Warner Brothers forced us tiny: Utah, Pennsylvania, Michigan, to watch Cedric Diggory’s death, and Oklahoma, Washington, Vermont, and a Chicago-based brewery introduced New York have since banned its America to Four Loko, a flavored sale. Additionally, as of mid-Noblend of caffeine and alcohol vember, Phusion Projects and 12% abv now sold in most states and parts three other manufacturers of of Europe and prevalent on the caffeinated alcoholic beverages caffeine Claremont Colleges party scene. were given 15 days to remove the caffeine from their products. The drink’s popularity, howtaurine ever, stops with college-aged The same week, Phusion Projects consumers. As its effects hospipublicly agreed to “reformulate guarana talize more and more underage its products to remove caffeine, drinkers, parents, school guarana, and taurine nationadministrators, and state wide.” Immediately fol12% abv 12% abv government officials are lowing this announcement, putting the product unFour Loko fanatics rushed caffeine caffeine der serious scrutiny. to liquor stores across America in a last-ditch atWhat makes Four Loko tempt to stock up on the taurine taurine unique among typical Satproduct before the core of urday night concoctions is its appeal disappears. guarana guarana not only its 6–12% ABV (alcohol by volume, One of critics’ biggest which is subject to concerns is that the 12% abv 12% abv 12% abv individual states’ young age group that regulations) but also Four Loko’s bright its potentially lethal colors and artificial caffeine caffeine caffeine inclusion of caffeine, flavors target does which encourages not fully understand taurine taurine taurine excessive consumpthe health risks. At tion of alcohol by the 5Cs, though, unguarana guarana guarana masking and delayderstanding does not ing its depresnecessarily lead sive effects. to boycotting.

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But this seriously “loko” beverage may be slowly becoming saner. In November, the Food p a g e 12

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According to a Port Side survey, 81% of Claremont students claim to consume less than one can of Four Loko per volumeVIII issue2

week. While 42% reported understanding the drink’s health hazards as greater than those affiliated with regular alcohol, they have not examined the issue closely enough to boycott the product. Most Claremont students think the extra dangers of caffeinated alcohol should be the responsibility of the consumer, not the producer. “It’s a problem, but people need to know their limits and boundaries,” says an anonymous Claremont McKenna junior and self-proclaimed frequent Four Loko consumer, who thinks the drink’s biggest problem is its targeting of college students. “You’re not going to drink Four Lokos outside of Camp Claremont. Many college kids are kind of experimenting with alcohol and don’t really know how much it can mess them up.” While Four Loko is a dangerous combination, he thinks “everyone makes their own choices.” This student sees no point to the FDA’s regulating the sometimes-lethal combination of caffeine and alcohol on the grounds that, well, students are crafty. “If you want to get messed up, you can always find a way to get messed up,” he says. “Four Loko is not a one-way street.” Although 23.8% of survey participants oppose regulating Four Loko, 42.9% think the FDA could involve itself more with its marketing. According to one survey participant, Four Loko cans should reflect the dangers associated with consumption. “[Phusion Projects] should be a lot more forward about how much caffeine is in its drinks,” one student contends. “But I don’t think that the FDA should alter the content because they consider it dangerous. People can make their own decisions.”


dents are looking for something cheap, full of flavor, and easily portable,” the new, uncaffeinated version will still sell. Creative party-goers, however, may try to revert to the original. “I think that people who have fallen in love with the caffeine-alcohol combination will buy the new Four Loko and simply add their own caffeine supplements,” says People who have fallen in love with the caffeine- the student, who raises an even more alcohol combination will buy the new Four Loko daunting question: simply add their own caffeine supplements... What “What else could you put in a Four could you put in a Four Loko? Loko?”

ARE WE GOING LOKO? The Port Side surveyed 5C students on their experiences with and attitudes toward Four Loko. Selected data are below.

19% 38% 24% consume at least one can of four loko every week

FELT EXCESSIVELY DRUNK FOR THE AMOUNT CONSUMED

HAVE BLACKED OUT AFTER DRINKING A FOUR LOKO

28% 45% 61% HAD MORE FUN WITH THINK THE FDA THINK THE FDA FOUR LOKO THAN NONSHOULD NOT SHOULD REGULATE ITS CAFFEINATED DRINKS REGULATE ITS SALE CONTENTS SOMEWHAT volumeVIII issue2

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SOME QUOTES: “Health hazards of Four Loko is a progressive myth.” “I’m a big, strong, virile man who needs no precautions in life.” “Going Loko makes you be on the move. I must have been to every campus at the 5Cs like three times in one night.” “The Founding Fathers would be disgusted that Obama and his Islamofascists want to take away our Freedom of Loko.” “The FDA should be abolished.”

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The next question, much more specific to Claremont, is the extent to which school administrations can and and should regulate the consumption of else Four Loko on cam— a 5C student who participated in the Port Side’s survey Others are not as pus. While schools optimistic. Even if like CMC, with its homemade, Four Loko-based jungle relatively lax drinking policies, tend would you actually regulate it? Campus juice becomes the norm in Gatorade not to intervene as much in the party Security isn’t going to smell your drink coolers across the nation, its triumph scene, the extra health risks posed by and know it’s a Four Loko.” may be short-lived. As one CMCer caffeinated alcoholic beverages could puts it, “Four Loko is a passing fad raise some red flags concerning overall Despite the recent changes in product that will only be remembered when student safety. Does the added caffeine policy and content, many see a future we hear about it in ten years on VH1’s give the administration an excuse to for Four Loko. One surveyed student I Love the ‘10s: 2010.” crack down on consumption? writes that “because many college stu-

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Though the administration can change its alcohol policy as it sees fit, an effective solution may be hard to find. According to one CMC student, a Four Loko “shouldn’t be treated any differently than just a simple beer.” While he concedes that the school has a right to ban any substance, he wonders, “How

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While 38.1% of Claremont students disagree entirely, saying the FDA’s job description does not permit it to dictate a product’s marketing campaign and sales tactics, 19% deem such intervention both necessary and within the FDA’s jurisdiction.


Dirty Governments

Three most corrupt countries products of U.S. intervention

By Derek Ha Copy Editor, Pom on a ‘ 1 4

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Glenn Beck famously accused the Obama administration of being “the most corrupt of all time.” Unfortunately for Mr. Beck (but fine by the rest of us), the United States government has a long way to go before it can compete with the world’s most corrupt. On Oct. 25, Transparency International released its annual Corruption Perceptions Index, which gauges levels of “abuse of entrusted power for private gain” in 178 countries. Each country received a score ranging from zero (filthy) to ten (squeaky clean). Here are a few highlights (mostly low-lights) of the report. For the fifth year in a row, New Zealand took home the prize of least corrupt country, this time sharing the honor with Denmark and Singapore. Canada came in sixth place, and at least one country from every continent except Antarctica made its way into the top 40. Large developing countries, on the other hand, tended toward corruption. While economists predict that Brazil, Russia, India, and China (BRIC) will become the next economic superpowers by 2050, the corruption index indicates that they will not be leading the world in good governance; all scored under 4.0. Pomona Politics Professor David Arase offers a simple explanation: p a g e 14

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“Developing countries are developing. They may not have a full set of laws and regulations, and their justice system may not be working.” Corrupt governance, while never a good thing, may also be a symptom of growth. Arase says, “China doesn’t score very well at all, but who has lifted more people out of poverty?” Three of the world’s four most corrupt governments (Somalia, Afghanistan, and Iraq) are the products of American military intervention. “The [U.S.] Army’s very good on the battlefield, but has no apparent means of building governments from the ground up,” Pomona Politics Professor Heather Williams says. “We’re left to watch the mayhem that follows.” With a dismal score of 1.1, Somalia is the world’s most corrupt country. To be fair, during the 2006 invasion

Afghanistan, 1.4 on the index, shares the honor of the world’s second-mostcorrupt nation with Burma. Just recently, Afghan President Hamid Karzai admitted to taking “bags of money” from Iran. This, of course, comes in addition to his fraudulent 2009 presidential “victory.” As more American troops become entangled in the country, the situation in Afghanistan bodes poorly for U.S. foreign policy. So does Iraq’s. Seven years after the U.S. overthrew Saddam Hussein, Iraq still suffers from an ineffective (albeit somewhat less bloodthirsty) government. Between Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki obstructing corruption investigations and local security forces torturing civilian prisoners, the country’s score of 1.5 is more than justified. If the governments America creates abroad are the most corrupt, then what about our own? Most countries would be thrilled to be the 22nd least corrupt country in the world. For the United States, however, this year’s score marks an historic low. Much of perceived corruption stems from the financial crisis. The lack of oversight that facilitated Bernie Madoff ’s Ponzi scheme and the BP oil spill also factored. Still, the U.S. has never been the least corrupt country. “It’s because of the federal system,” Williams says. “We leave a fair amount of authority to the state and local levels, so there will always be a patchwork of clean and dirty.”

America did help topple the violent, militant, Islamist courts in power. But we replaced them with… no government at all. The country is now ruled by corrupt warlords who seize half the international food aid intended for desperately hungry Somalis.

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The next corruption index will be released in roughly ten months, hopefully showing improvements. But given the difficulty of seeing these studies actually spur real change, they may be little more than lists of numbers intended to make us feel dismayed with our world.


Majoring in the Middle East

CMC’s multidisciplinary focus on the region is expanding

Due largely to Franzel’s petition, Arabic became an option for 5C students in 2008 with the hiring of Professor Bassam Frangieh, who had taught for 14 years at Yale University, where he was a Senior Lecturer and Director of the Modern Languages Program. “We lucked out by getting Bassam from Yale,” Franzel notes. “He and Professor Haley really pushed for a Middle East Studies major.” According to Frangieh, students were the catalysts. “The creation of the Middle East Studies Program came at the demand of the students,” he says. “They were ready to take Arabic.” Beyond the mere curricular addition of another language, the creation of an entire Middle East Studies major reflects the CMC administration’s broader focus on the region. The major requires ten courses, composed of six core classes and four electives. Proficiency in a Middle Eastern language, usually Arabic, is a necessity, and students are encouraged to study abroad. But the real innovation occurs outside the classroom: the department invites writers, musicians, poets, dancers, and ambassadors to address the students. These weekly events seek to bolster students’ language skills and provide direct cultural experience. “We’re doing our best to give everything possible to students,” Frangieh says.

CMC is currently in the process of hiring an Assistant Professor of Arabic, and the History and Government Departments are hiring Middle Eastern-focused faculty as well.

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In Egypt, he also hopes to further his Arabic education. “Our program’s great,” says Franzel, who studied abroad at the American University in Cairo. “But Arabic is a tough language, and you need to be in a country, speaking the language daily to become fluent.” He thinks that while Arabic courses at CMC cannot guarantee fluency, they provide a “great foundation.”

But even this multidisciplinary approach might not be enough. “Very few schools have strong Middle Eastern Studies majors, and we need to expand to be stronger,” says Franzel, who recommends hiring three additional Arabic professors and offering three rather than one class per week. “We could also include Farsi and Hebrew classes.”

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When David Franzel ‘10 arrived at Claremont McKenna four years ago, none of the Claremont Colleges offered an Arabic course. Absent the option of continuing to learn the language, Franzel began to petition the administration to create what is now CMC’s Middle East Studies Program. Its first graduate, he is now teaching English, Mathematics, and History at an Egyptian high school.

Given the major’s popularity among 5C students, the program is expanding. In the past two years, three Arabic professors have been hired. “After my first year,” Frangieh recalls, “the students wanted to continue learning Arabic, so we needed another professor to teach the new firstyears. After that, we needed two more to meet student demand.”

As expected, further expansion is costly. But Franzel believes that, over time, the program will enjoy strong support from alumni, especially when students’ postgraduation achievements become publicized. “Once we have more graduates, we’ll have more donations to the program,” he concludes. Other potential donors include ambassadors, foundations, and fellowships. Beyond expanding the Middle East Studies major, Frangieh has other plans in the works, including a recently approved Arabic major “so students can take more courses in Arabic Language and Literature.” As for the program’s first graduate? “I’m not sure what I’ll do next,” Franzel confesses. “I prefer to wait to see all of my opportunities before deciding anything. Business school, maybe?”

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By Shree Pandya Co n tr ibuting Writer, C MC ‘ 1 4


Everyday Extremism: Part I

A three-part history of radical clashes in Claremont’s past the plank By Sara Birkenthal Co p y Editor, CMC ‘1 3 This is the first in a three-part series on Claremont students’ historical radical group activity. As the rest of the nation echoed with cries of conflict over issues as wide-reaching as the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights Movement, and the Sexual Revolution, so did the Claremont Colleges. The heated sociopolitical climate of the 1960s and ‘70s brought out the true, variant character of our campuses, especially during the 1969–1970 academic year. According to Ward Elliott, Claremont McKenna Professor of Government and the school’s unofficial historian, CMC (then Claremont Men’s College) was “the most conservative of the campuses, with the least militant students and the least permissive faculty and administration.” The other colleges – namely Pitzer, Pomona, and Claremont

Graduate School (now Claremont Graduate University) – “had most of the militants and the most pro-militant student bodies, faculties, and campus judiciaries.” The Claremont Colleges were “no exception to the antiwar activity going on at colleges across the country,” Elliott says. For example, in the late 1960s a Claremont Graduate School (CGS)-based “Committee on the Reconstruction and Reconciliation in Vietnam” attracted national media attention when it demanded that the Claremont Consortium adopt The University of Hanoi as a sister school in Vietnam. In a more direct confrontation, Pitzer Sociology Professor Inge Bell, along with a group of student followers, proposed that CMC’s Military Science Department be renamed the “Department of Mass Murder.” As Elliott’s Notes on CMC’s History explains, “many of these views were expressed as ‘nonnegotiable demands’ backed up by threats of violence.” CMC’s ROTC program, in which most students were involved, proved an inviting target for student radical groups. The tension between Pomona’s generally left-leaning students and administration and CMC’s generally right-leaning students and administration peaked during a series of anti-ROTC demonstrations in 1969.

to discuss with you the role of coercion in campus politics.” Surprised and defeated, the protesters left within ten minutes. The intercampus political conflict eventually reached its height when student militants “liberated” CMC’s ROTC unit, “camping out, ripping telephones out of the wall, turning desks upside down, and scrawling obscenities on the wall,” according to Elliott. Nine Pomona students identified among the “liberators” were tried before the Pomona Community Council on Dec. 3, 1969 in Pomona’s packed Olney Dining Hall. CGS student Mansour Farhang, later the Iranian Ambassador to the U.N., defended them. According to Elliott’s detailed description of the trial, “the defendants marched in lockstep, gave the revolutionary-power clenched-fist salute, and barked ‘not guilty’ in unison as each was charged by two of Pomona’s Deans.” After a defense that consisted of testimony from three Chaplains and a broadcast describing the My Lai Massacre, the “Pomona Nine” got off with essentially a slap on the wrist. These often-violent incidents demonstrated a fundamental weakness of the Claremont University Consortium. “Like the United States under the Articles of Confederation,” Elliott explains, the Consortium “had no central executive, legislature, or judiciary” to agree on a common set of policies and principles for disciplining student offenders.

A unified Claremont executive, legislature, or judiciary still does not exist. To this day, Pitzer and Pomona students cannot receive credit for military science courses taken at CMC; while During one particularly memorable they may technically accept ROTC scholardemonstration, Cadet Executive Officer ships, they cannot receive checks from the miliClayburn Peters, CMC ‘69, greeted 500 tary written directly to their schools. This policy protesters who had been trying desperdid not originate from nowhere. It is a product ately to interrupt ROTC drills. “I would of the Claremont Colleges’ tumultuous history like to welcome you all to the Claremont of political radicalism, which the Port Side will ROTC Leadership Laboratory,” he ancontinue to cover next semester. nounced. “In today’s class we would like p a g e 16 | d e c e m b e r 10 | c l a r e m o n t p o r t s i d e . c o m | v o l u m e V I I I i s s u e 2


December 2010