Pomona Student Claims Harassment for Political Beliefs

Conservative reprimanded by administrators after penning article on safe spaces

Pomona College / AP
March 23, 2016

A student at Pomona College, a member of the Claremont University Consortium, says he was targeted by administrators for his conservative political beliefs.

Steven Glick, the editor-in-chief of the Claremont Independent, believes that administrators at the college’s writing center harassed him because of his connection to the campus’s only student-run conservative publication. According to Glick, the actions of the writing center staff eventually forced him to resign his position as a writing fellow.

Glick and other fellows at the writing center were charged with helping other students polish their papers. Glick, a junior studying Economics and Mathematics, said that the mission of the writing center had never before been political.

But Glick said he was called into the writing center late last year to discuss a news article about "safe spaces" at the Claremont Consortium that he had penned for the Claremont Independent, a politically independent newspaper that has historically been staffed by right-leaning students. While writing fellows commonly contribute to campus publications, he was the only one writing for the Independent.

"I got called in to talk about how my presence at the writing center might make people who came in feel unsafe, and how students thinking that the writing center might have some connection to the Claremont Independent would make them feel unsafe," Glick recalled.

After the meeting, Glick was summoned to the writing center again to have a discussion about safe spaces with a faculty member, who also assigned him readings and cancelled his upcoming shift so he could work on "administrative parts of the job." One of the readings Glick was instructed to review, called "Heteropatriarchy and the Three Pillars of White Supremacy," was written by an activist who falsely claimed to be Native American.

Later, Glick was called in again to meet with an administrator at the writing center about the readings assigned to him. Conversation turned instead to the hiring practices at the writing center, in particular the racial makeup of individuals the center hires to serve as fellows. The administrator mentioned that most writing fellows are white, whereas most of the students who seek help at the center are non-white.

"They were concerned about that, and I basically said that I didn’t think it was a huge issue and we should just continue to hire whoever the best applicants are," Glick said. "It was kind of just a back-and-forth about how we needed to have more people of a certain race. And I’m all for it if that’s just the way that the people who apply to the writing center happen to be. If the best applicants happen to be 100 percent black, I think we should have a 100 percent black writing fellow staff next year. I don’t think it matters."

The day after the conversation, Glick received an email alerting him that he was being placed on probation for missing a mandatory writing center meeting. While the accusation was merited—Glick missed the meeting to participate in a swim meet—skipping meetings had never been an issue for him before. He also had informed a head writing fellow that he would miss the meeting.

Glick was again summoned to the writing center to discuss his probation, though the missed meeting was barely brought up.

"The entire meeting was about my previous meeting about the hiring practices and the readings … which obviously led me to believe that the probation was not because I had missed the lunch meeting," Glick recalled.

According to Glick, faculty members at the writing center accused him of offending the administrator with his "tone" during the conversation about the center’s hiring practices. "They didn’t say that it was what I said; they said that they didn’t like my tone and that I had hurt her feelings and that needed to be acknowledged," he said.

Glick acknowledged that he had hurt the staffer’s feelings, but was unsuccessful in pressing the administrators for specific answers about what he had done wrong. They warned him that he would remain on probation and, in the event of another wrongdoing, would be fired.

The next day, Glick worked his routine shift at the writing center and met with two students. Both meetings appeared to go smoothly. "I soon received an email saying that an anonymous complaint against me had been filed and they were going to cancel my shift until further notice," Glick said.

After some research, Glick discovered that one of the students he met with was friends with the writing center administrator who he had argued with about racial preferences in hiring. The student had dressed as "White Supremacy" for Halloween, according to pictures on social media. Other pictures showed the student posing with classmates dressed up as "Steven Glick and his White Fragility."

"[I thought] ‘This is too much. I’m not really interested in doing this anymore.’ So, that’s when I resigned," Glick said. "I think I almost certainly would have been fired."

When asked for comment, a faculty member of the writing center said, "Pomona College cannot comment on a specific employment situation, as it is a personnel matter." A spokesman for the college also declined to comment on the "personnel matter."

Glick later chronicled his experience in an editorial for the Claremont Independent. While no one from the writing center has approached him about the accusations, he says he has received support from other classmates.

One of the individuals who approached Glick, a freshman at Pomona who describes himself as a conservative, told the Free Beacon that there was an "extreme" politically correct culture on campus. The student, who requested anonymity, said the culture makes it "very difficult and uncomfortable" to attend college at Pomona.

He pointed to a sociology class that barred students from calling themselves "freshmen" because the word contained "man" and was allegedly offensive to women. Instead, students were required to identify themselves as "first years."

During freshman orientation, students were asked in a group setting to disclose their names, their hometowns, and their "preferred gender pronoun." Terms reflecting "male superiority" are frowned upon on campus, the student said. He also said that wishing someone "Merry Christmas" or playing certain types of music sparks outrage.

Students go to extraordinary lengths to avoid offending anyone and promote an "inclusive" community, though individuals who are openly conservative are decidedly excluded.

"If you’re Republican, you’re all of a sudden a racist, a bigot, you support evil things," the student alleged. "It’s gone way too far."

The Claremont Independent has covered the emerging culture of political correctness at the five undergraduate institutions in the Claremont University Consortium. Students in the consortium have complained that campus safety tips promote rape culture, excluded white students from "safe spaces," deemed the word "dreamcatcher" as cultural appropriation, and rejected a proposed Yacht Club on the grounds that the group’s name was offensive.

"It is all over the place with students. Students are censoring like crazy. We’ve had so many issues throughout the course of the year," Glick said. "Literally, everything is offensive."

Published under: Education