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Pomona College Joins Other Claremont Colleges in Canceling Classes for One Day in Response to Hate Crime

Pomona College, Claremont McKenna College, Scripps College, Harvey Mudd College and Pitzer College have all canceled classes for Wednesday, March 10, in a show of solidarity in response to a hate crime that occurred Tuesday night in a parking lot shared by Pomona and Claremont McKenna colleges. The five colleges are all members of The Claremont College consortium and located on contiguous campuses.

According to reports, a car belonging to a Claremont McKenna faculty member who had just taken part in a forum on hate speech was vandalized sometime between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. Tuesday. The windows of the car were broken, the tires slashed, and the body of the vehicle spray-painted with racial, misogynist and anti-Semitic epithets. Claremont Police are currently investigating the incident, which has been formally classified as a hate crime. Claremont McKenna College has offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to a solution to the crime.

Pomona College President David Oxtoby urged students and faculty to use the day to come together to demonstrate their unity in opposing acts of intimidation and to discuss future steps to build trust and improve the climate of racial understanding on campus. “We must realize that education needs to take place outside as well as inside the classroom,” President Oxtoby wrote to the College community Wednesday morning. “I ask that each of you use this change in daily routines to further this education.”

A number of events have been scheduled for The Claremont Colleges campuses during this “Day of Solidarity and Teaching,” leading up to a rally at 8 p.m. tonight (March 10) on the Claremont McKenna campus.

Here is a list of scheduled events:

8 a.m.-Noon — Teach-in and gathering on Pomona’s Marston Quad, to give students an opportunity to discuss the incident and other incidents involving hate speech in recent weeks.

Starting at 9:30 a.m., continuing through the day — Film of the vandalized car may be viewed in the Rose Hills Theatre in Smith Campus Center on Pomona’s campus.

10 a.m. — A gathering at the Office of Black Student Affairs (East 7th Street). The gathering will move from OBSA to Collins Dining Hall at Claremont McKenna at 11 a.m. in an expression of solidarity with other campuses.

Noon-6 p.m. — A sit-in on the North Quad of Claremont McKenna College. All community members are welcome to sit and discuss their reactions, feelings and ideas as a show of support for those threatened by this incident and a stand against acts of hate.

5 p.m. — A Pomona College community meeting on Marston Quad. Students, faculty and staff are invited to continue the discussion of Tuesday night's incident and Pomona’s response to it.

6:30 p.m.-8 p.m. — Dinner for Pomona students, faculty and staff on Marston Quad.

8 p.m. — A culminating rally at Claremont McKenna College’s North Quad, with a range of student speakers.

Tuesday's incident came on the heels of a series of other events involving hate speech or racial insensitivity that had angered the college communities in recent weeks.

The first of those, which took place in January, during the colleges’ winter break, involved the theft of a student artwork in the shape of a cross from the Pomona College campus by a group of students from three sister campuses, who took the cross to Harvey Mudd College and burned it there. The event sparked a series of protests and forums on the campuses dealing with questions of hate speech and hate crime.

Another incident involved a campus group that organized a scavenger hunt, one item of which was a photograph including 10 "Asian" students. The group later publicly apologized. Subsequently, a letter from a Pomona student to the student newspaper explaining why he had found that incident offensive and troubling drew a flurry of racist and threatening responses on the newspaper's online bulletin board. Eventually, the responses were all traced to sources outside The Claremont Colleges.

A third incident occurred on the campus of Claremont McKenna College at the end of February, involving a calendar on a residence hall bulletin board that was defaced with a racial epithet.

"I am shocked that such an appalling crime has taken place in our midst." Oxtoby said. "A community like ours has a degree of fragility, and this action strikes at the community and makes all of us vulnerable. When some of our members feel threatened, we all do."

Related stories:
3/19/04: In wake of police report calling hate crime at CMC a hoax, colleges reaffirm commitment to improving our community.

3/11/04: Pomona College joins other Claremont Colleges in day of solidarity.

3/10/04: Pomona College joins other Claremont Colleges in canceling classes for one day on March 10 in response to hate crime.