Earlier this afternoon, CMC President Pam Gann sent out an email detailing the outcome of CMC’s review of the verbal altercation during the SJP street theater event outside of Collins dining hall on March 4th. In it, she summarized the events that occurred as well as the subsequent informal grievance made against CMC Economics Professor Yaron Raviv. Since the informal grievance process failed to resolve the issue, President Gann published Dean Mary Spellman’s full report on the incident.
Some main points included:
- Raviv’s statement was not in compliance with CMC’s Statement on Professional Ethics, but was not severe enough to violate the Harassment Policy.
- The demonstration was not in compliance with demonstration policies because it was blocking access to Collins Dining Hall
- Raviv did not improperly interfere the event by requesting the event not impede dining hall access
Below is Dean Spellman’s full report:
President Gann accepted the findings of the report and suggested moving forward by intiating discussions on how to “improve the campus climate for Arab and Jewish students and other members of the community.”
In light of last week’s Vigil for the Death of Student Rights outside of Collins and their requests for resolution, the question now remains how the student involved in the incident, SJP, and the Claremont community as a whole will respond.
Below is the full text of the email sent from President Gann:
April 19, 2013
Dear Members of The Claremont Colleges Community,
I am writing to update The Claremont Colleges Community on the outcome of CMC’s review of the verbal altercation that occurred between a CMC faculty member and Pitzer student outside of Collins Dining Hall last month.
On the evening of Monday, March 4, the Claremont Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) held a street theatre event at Collins Dining Hall. CMC and Pitzer College received reports of a verbal altercation that occurred between a Pitzer student and a CMC faculty member at this event, including allegations that the CMC faculty member used inappropriate language toward the student. Both CMC and Pitzer took these reports seriously, and acted immediately to cooperate on reviews of this matter through their respective Dean of Students Offices.
On Friday, March 15, 2013, before CMC completed its review process, the Pitzer student filed an informal written grievance against the CMC faculty member under the College’s Grievance Procedures. Honoring the student’s decision to pursue an informal grievance, the College suspended its review pending resolution of the grievance process. The CMC Dean of the Faculty, in close coordination with relevant administrators from both CMC and Pitzer, worked with both parties to attempt to reach a mutually satisfactory resolution to the grievance. It is important to emphasize that, during this informal process, the Dean of the Faculty acts as an informal mediator between the two parties, not as a fact-finder or a judge who imposes remedies. Although the Grievance Procedures contemplate that this informal process will take approximately one week, both parties mutually agreed to extend the informal resolution period until Friday, April 12. Ultimately, the parties did not agree to a mutual informal resolution by April 12.
Because the informal grievance process failed to resolve the dispute, and in view of the importance of addressing this matter promptly, I requested that Dean Mary Spellman complete her review. A summary of CMC’s findings and conclusions is attached for your reference.
Among other key findings, the review found that:
- The faculty member’s statements to the student were not in compliance with the expectations set forth in the College’s Statement on Professional Ethics, but these statements, when viewed in context, were not sufficiently severe or pervasive as to constitute a violation of the College’s Harassment Policy. The faculty member has acknowledged that his statements were inappropriate and unprofessional, and has apologized for his statements. Any additional personnel-related actions that may be appropriate will be confidentially addressed by the Dean of the Faculty’s Office.
- When impeding access to the main entrance of Collins Dining Hall, the demonstration event was not in compliance with CMC’s Demonstrations Policy and The Claremont Colleges Demonstrations Policy, and the CMC faculty member did
- not improperly interfere with or attempt to stop the event by requesting that the event not impede access to the dining hall.
As President of CMC, I accept the findings of this review, and I agree that the faculty member’s statements were unprofessional and did not reflect CMC’s values. As an institution of higher education, we strive to model an ideal community for civil discourse. In order to do so, we count on our community members—and especially our faculty—to conduct themselves in a professional manner that respects differences of opinion and robust, civilized expressions on controversial issues. That, unfortunately, did not occur here. With respect to the process applied to these events, I believe that the College acted promptly to review this incident, and that its review of this matter has been completed in a manner that has been fair and neutral while being respectful of the rights of both parties.
Although it is unfortunate that this incident occurred, it is my hope and intention that we collectively take this opportunity to establish a constructive and positive dialogue around these issues on our campuses. Toward this end, I will initiate a discussion with the Council of Presidents on approaches to improving the campus climate for Arab and Jewish students and other members of the community. Internally at CMC, I will also activate a discussion on these concerns with the faculty, the Dean of Students Office, and other interested groups to address these issues affirmatively moving forward. Our ultimate goal is to provide a campus environment that supports free speech and peaceful assembly while also insuring that the individual rights of all members of the community are appropriately protected so that all individuals feel safe and welcome on campus.
Pamela B. Gann
Claremont McKenna College
Addendum 4/22/13: On Sunday 4/21/13, Pitzer Student Senate Chair Jonathan Rice sent out the following email:
Dear Members of the Pitzer Community,