There is a new controversy at Claremont McKenna College in California after the disclosure of a list by the activist group CMCers of Color of people who were viewed as insufficiently supportive or even questioning of protests over racism. Various minority students and teachers were listed as “shady person[s] of color” in a document that demanded various changes from the removal of the college dean to the creation of “safe spaces” for minorities. Critics have charged that such list of minority students engaged in protests would have produced calls for expulsions and investigations. I think that there is a danger of overblowing such an incident but there is a legitimate concern over differential treatment in such controversies that we have previously discussed.
There have been protests over alleged racism at the college this year. One version of the list of demands however included the list of “SPOCs” — Shady Persons of Color. The names were arranged as members of a royal court: King, Queen, Prince, “Ignorant” and Court Jester. The “King” SPOC was Brandon Gonzalez, the assistant dean of admissions, and the “Queen” SPOC was Hannah Oh — the editor-in-chief of the Claremont Independent, the campus paper. Oh merely criticized the protesters’ tactics in an op-ed.
One student newspaper said that the term “SPOC” has been used on campus for some time to ostracize minority students critical of the protests. Indeed, the newspaper quoted students who said that “Pomona’s new Latinx club was actually planning on creating a ‘SPOC calling-out’ committee” to target Latino students who were viewed as critical or unsupportive.
The question is what standard to apply to such incidents. Would Claremont have remained silent if the list was of “persons of color” who were seen protesting racism? What should be the response of the school to such lists in your view?