In an open letter to Pomona College President David Oxtoby, a group of students have demanded the school to send out a revised email from the one it sent out earlier in response to student protesters shutting down an event that hosted a conservative speaker on campus. In the email, President Oxtoby stated the school’s support for freedom of speech and academic freedom.
The university’s commitment to freedom of speech is wrong because it has been used to suppress minorities, according to the open letter:
“Free speech, a right many freedom movements have fought for, has recently become a tool appropriated by hegemonic institutions. It has not just empowered students from marginalized backgrounds to voice their qualms and criticize aspects of the institution, but it has given those who seek to perpetuate systems of domination a platform to project their bigotry”
The letter also claims “truth” does not exist and is a tool for white supremacy:
“Historically, white supremacy has venerated the idea of objectivity, and wielded a dichotomy of ‘subjectivity vs. objectivity’ as a means of silencing oppressed peoples. The idea that there is a single truth–’the Truth’–is a construct of the Euro-West that is deeply rooted in the Enlightenment, which was a movement that also described Black and Brown people as both subhuman and impervious to pain…The idea that we must subject ourselves routinely to the hate speech of fascists who want for us not to exist plays on the same Eurocentric constructs that believed Black people to be impervious to pain and apathetic to the brutal and violent conditions of white supremacy.”
The open letter ends with a call for the school to punish The Claremont Independent, an independent, student-run newspaper, “for its continual perpetuation of hate speech, anti-Blackness, and intimidation toward students of marginalized backgrounds”.
In a statement to Hypeline News, Claremont Independent writer Matthew Reade said the open letter’s charges are not true simply because the students have been unable to provide evidence to support the charges:
“[The] charges are obviously untrue, as is evident from the fact that the open letter fails to substantiate any of them. What we are guilty of is making the silent majority of sensible people on our campus aware of what is really happening around them. Covering stories like this—in this case, we have radical student activists who see free speech as a tool of oppression that should be suppressed if they find it disagreeable—enables us to shed light on these radical views and to force them into the public sphere, where they must compete in the marketplace of ideas. But having to defend these radical ideas from criticism is the opposite of what these folks would like to do, so they resort to unfounded attacks, name calling, and appeals for administrative intervention in an effort to silence us and their critics on campus.”
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