After receiving considerable media attention for a series of racist comments by members of his student body on the public listserv, Pitzer College’s President Melvin Oliver wrote a public message to the community regarding the aftermath of The Claremont Independent‘s publicizing the explicitly racist screeds .
Titled “Hate Speech is Not Free Speech,” Oliver stated that the students who publicly defended a graffitied message telling white people to stop wearing hoop earrings were “experiencing harassment and death threats” and that the subsequent article “ignited a cycle of violent hate speech.” He continued:
As a place of higher education, we strongly cherish and defend intellectual curiosity, productive discourse and opposing views that may broaden our perspectives as global citizens. However, when speech resorts to hate, violence and threats, we will not tolerate these acts nor the perpetrators of these actions. If you have information that will help us bring those responsible to justice, please contact the Office of Student Affairs and the Claremont Police Department.
Every individual is entitled to freedom from fear and stigma, and with the respect of others to pursue a life of meaning and purpose. Pitzer College supports greater acceptance, not less.
While initially alluding to the importance of the diversity of ideas, Oliver slammed speech that “resorts to hate, violence and threats” without addressing the nature of the speech that The Claremont Independent reported. He then mentioned that every student at Pitzer is entitled to “freedom from fear and stigma, and with the respect of others to pursue a life of meaning and purpose.”
After The Claremont Independent wrote about Oliver’s statement, the Associated Press picked up the story of Oliver’s statement and reported that Pitzer College “received threats after the earrings dispute.” The Associated Press and its affiliated news sources issued the following statement:
This story has been corrected to show that college President Melvin L. Oliver’s (statement) was condemning hate speech directed at students by outsiders, not speech between students.
The Los Angeles Times corrected its headline to say “Pitzer College president condemns hate speech from outsiders after anti-white message painted on campus,” following the story with a correction confirming that President Oliver was only condemning hate speech coming from “outsiders” without addressing any of the hateful speech articulated by members of Pitzer’s student body.
Even though progressive Pitzer students made several explicitly racist statements in the past week on a public server, President Oliver not only refused to hold his students accountable for their rhetoric, but also directed considerable scorn not only at The Claremont Independent but also the “outsiders” who made deplorable threats to members of the student body. Oliver’s double standard is egregious and telling. He also failed to teach his student body that one’s words and actions on a public server can have consequences. Even Brian Carlisle, the Vice President of Student Affairs, informed the student body that anything that is said on the student-talk listserv is public and it is not protected from “redisclosure from other students.”
Instead of using the past week’s events as a remarkable opportunity to honestly address racist speech in all its forms, Pitzer’s president defended the racist hate-mongering from his students, insulated them from the ramifications of their deplorable statements, and projected his quarrels at a student newspaper reporting the facts and individuals who are beyond the administration’s control. By labeling any legitimate criticism against left-leaning students as “hate speech,” he implicitly shut the door on the very diversity of ideas that he supposedly claims to cherish in his message to the community.
This is what happens when the Left takes over academia.