'Sacrificed on an Altar of Heated Rhetoric'

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

"This is a movement, not a moment." #claremontmckenna #concernedstudent1950

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A reader writes:

I’m a senior at CMC. Thank you for writing the recent note about the protests at Claremont McKenna, as well as the note about the potential effects of letting student activists run campus. It captured exactly what is happening in the aftermath of last week at CMC.

I just wanted to let you know that, while many of the articles about CMC did a very good job capturing the very real racial issues on campus, there is another side to the story that is only now finally being spoken out loud by students. As a student body, many of us were fearful of being labeled “racist,” and we let our Dean of Students take the fall for deeply rooted institutional problems, sacrificing her in the name of rhetoric.

Several students and myself began to share these feelings yesterday on social media and through our blog. We asked alumni, students, faculty, and administration to send in letters of support for Dean Spellman. Some alumni are currently drafting a letter to President Chodosh, requesting him to ask Dean Spellman back to her position. Our message is articulated more clearly in our post, but the sentiment is exactly the same as the piece you wrote.

Many of the letters we have so far received are from students who relied on Dean Spellman for serious mental health support, and they’re heartbreaking. It turns out that wrenching a dean out of the community in the middle of the year has some negative externalities, as this social experiment is proving.