Mary Spellman, who is both the Assistant Vice President and Dean of Students at the prestigious liberal arts college, resigned after protests and a hunger strike over an email that many believed was racially insensitive.
According to a report from Emily Shire of the The Daily Beast:
Spellman wrote to a student, Lisette Espinosa, after reading Espinosa’s article in The Student Life about her frustrations as a minority on campus.
‘We have a lot to do as a college and a community. Would you be willing to talk to me about these issues?’ Spellman wrote in her email. ‘They are important to me and the DOS staff and we are working on how we can better serve students, especially those that don’t fit our CMC mold.’
Those last words—’CMC mold’—kickstarted a campaign to force Spellman out.
Claremont McKenna student, Taylor Lemmons, was so upset by the email, she wrote an essay calling for Spellman’s resignation “due to her insensitive comments” and “her inaction in supporting marginalized students at Claremont McKenna College.” She then declared she was going on a hunger strike until Spellman resigned:
Therefore, as of today, November 11, 2015 at 1 o’clock PM I will begin a hunger strike of total fasting, depriving myself of all solid foods, and consuming only water, minerals, sugar and vitamins.
CMCers of Color then organized a protest on Claremont McKenna’s campus.
That same day, a protest was held on Claremont McKenna’s campus organized by CMCers of Color. During the protest, an Asian student, who voiced their opinion, was asked to leave. From The Daily Beast:
While the crowd focused their anger on Spellman, few in the crowd or the Claremont McKenna administration dwelled on an Asian female student who was attacked during the protest for talking about a racist incident in which a black person shouted “go back to your home.”
The Asian student said, ‘We should not distinguish people on their race. Black people can be racist.’ An audible sense of horror overcame the crowd with murmurs of ‘Oh no’ heard in the background.
A young black woman is seen approaching her, gesturing for the Asian student to leave and rolls her eyes on the sides. ‘How is this relevant to the college failing to provide a space for people of color?’ a person is heard shouting.