Scripps College Hosts Segregated Pool Party

Alec Sweet, Claremont Independent, April 12, 2018

Tomorrow night, Scripps College will be hosting a pool party (click here for archived event) at the Sallie Tiernan Field House pool that only non-white people will be allowed to attend.

Organized by Scripps’s Latinx group “Cafe con Leche”, the event was announced via Facebook (click here for archived description) under the claim of being the “first ever POC [person of color] pool party in [Clare]mont”.

The three-hour use of Scripps’ Sallie Tiernan House Pool is aimed at the creation of “a safe space for 5C students that identify as POC to come together and build community,” and will be open to only students identifying as POC attending the Claremont Colleges, a consortium which also includes Pomona College, Claremont McKenna College, Pitzer College, and Harvey Mudd College. {snip}

Cafe con Leche also advertised the event on its own Facebook page, adding in its post that the pool party will be “POC ONLYYYY.” Cafe con Leche is a registered student club at Scripps College. Its stated goal is to “provide a forum for the discussion of social, political, and economic issues that affect women, particularly those of Latinx decent.” The group also claims to be welcoming of all members of the Scripps College community:

{snip}

The event, sanctioned by the college, appears to violate Scripps’s anti-discriminatory policy. The policy reads, “Scripps College is committed to a policy of equal opportunity, and no differentiation will be made based on race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, sexual orientation, veteran status, or the presence of a disability.” This event is clearly advertised as a party for individuals that identify as people of color to the exclusion of white students.

Even if the event is in accordance with Scripps College policy, it may run afoul of federal law. Because Scripps College receives federal assistance, it is bound by Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VI states, “Schools and colleges that receive federal funds must operate without discriminating when it comes to race, color, and national origin.” Educational programs and services that must abide by this law include recreational facilities such as Sallie Tiernan House Pool. {snip}

Students on campus have expressed differing opinions about the party. One Scripps student who identifies as POC told the Independent on the condition of anonymity that the pool party is necessary to build community between POC and is indeed inclusive: “First of all, this is a POC party. No one is saying, ‘it needs to be all Latinx or all black students etc.’ The point of this event is to promote inclusivity and congeniality between ethnic minorities. Most POCs at any of the Claremont Colleges (which are historically PWIs (Predominantly White Institutions)) interact and enjoy interacting with people of all races (obviously including white people), but sometimes it’s nice to have a time to be with people who identify in the same or similar way that you do. And that’s also why no one is forced to come {snip}”.

However, one student attending Pomona College told the Independent that he believes the pool party is exclusive in nature: “I am white-passing with a diverse friend group, most of whom were invited to this party except for me.”

{snip}

The organizers also posted a link to a form to let those invited notify who the hosts should keep out of the pool party:

“Here’s a link to anonymously let us know of people that would keep this experience from being a safe and comfortable one.”

Self-segregated spaces and events exclusively for POC are increasingly common across the Claremont Colleges. Pitzer College’s Climbing Club is hosting an event later this month off campus for POC only. The event’s description begins by saying, “Are you a person of color? {snip} This is a closed event for POC identifying people only,” with the caveat that for white members being excluded, “expect another climb night in the near future open to everyone.”

The event description of the pool party ends with “It’s a great time to enjoy a pool party by the people and (more importantly) FOR THE PEOPLE!!” However it’s clear that “for the people” actually means for the people—of the race(s) the organizers deem acceptable to let into this party.

{snip}

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