Claremont McKenna College has suspended five students in connection to a protest in April where they blocked the entrance to a speaking even on-campus. Three students were suspended for a full academic year while two were suspended for a semester, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The incident in question took place on April 6 at the Athenaeum and Kravis Center while Heather Mac Donald was scheduled to speak. Mac Donald is a writer, author and commentator mostly known for being an avid supporter of police officers and highly critical of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Claremont McKenna is being criticized for overreacting and placing the future of these students in jeopardy. Some of the original 10 who were charged were on track to be graduating seniors, who had their status placed on hold pending an investigation. Others are at risk of losing their financial aid and not being able to return to school.
“Universities should be places where students learn about the power and limitation of civic engagement and this completely shuts that down with the hot-button issues of our current time,” said Nana Gyamfi, co-founder and lead organizer of the L.A.-based group Justice Warriors 4 Black Lives. “You don’t have to be a student to find that concerning.”
It’s especially damning for Claremont McKenna that students from other institutions were identified in the protests but their respective schools chose to not discipline them. Still, Claremont McKenna has banned them from appearing on campus for any non-academic reasons.
The school’s officials defended their actions by saying “students had an opportunity to be heard, pose questions, ask for further investigation, and raise objections throughout the process.” Despite this plea, a open letter circulated and gained more than 800 signatures condemning the school’s actions.
None of the penalized students have come forward or been identified as of yet.