Professor Andrew Busch holds an endowed chair as professor of government at Claremont McKenna College. With John Pitney and James Ceaser, he is the author, most recently, of Defying the Odds: The 2016 Election and American Politics. He writes to comment on Paul Mirengoff’s post reporting on the disciplinary aftermath of the misconduct disrupting Heather Mac Donald’s appearance to speak on campus. Professor Busch writes:
I am a faculty member in the Government Department at Claremont McKenna College and would like to thank you for your post on the student disciplinary decision at CMC. I am the Director of the Rose Institute of State and Local Government at CMC, one of the organizations that invited Heather Mac Donald to campus last April.
Having arrived early for the talk, I was also one of a handful of people trapped inside once the “shut down” began. I can personally attest to the ugliness of the crowd that day, and I am gratified that the College has taken measures to enforce the policies designed to preserve freedom of speech on campus. There is one point that calls for some clarification, though it is hinted at in the post.
CMC is a member of a consortium of five undergraduate and two graduate institutions, sharing a roughly one square mile piece of land with Pomona, Pitzer, Scripps, and Harvey Mudd Colleges and the Claremont Graduate University. The policy on demonstrations which served as the basis of the disciplinary action is a consortium policy, but the rules of the consortium are that each institution is responsible for discipline regarding its own students.
CMC administrators contend that only about a dozen of the demonstrators that day were CMC students, and I believe it. The CMC students with whom I have discussed the events were uniformly appalled, regardless of their place on the political spectrum, and they volunteered to me that they could identify no more than a dozen CMC students among the crowd. This means that if there were 170 people involved, roughly 158 of them were beyond the reach of CMC discipline. CMC failed to discipline them not because it lacked the will to do so, but because it lacked the jurisdiction to do so.
Unfortunately, the commitment of CMC to freedom of speech is not matched by its sister institutions. At this point, the best response by those of us who value a free exchange of ideas is to commend the one place that has actually taken action, and begin to put the spotlight on Pomona, Pitzer, and Scripps, which contributed the vast bulk of the blockaders, to ask why they have such little regard for freedom and for the policies they, too, have put their names to.
Andrew E. Busch
Crown Professor of Government and George R. Roberts Fellow
Director, Rose Institute of State and Local Government
Claremont McKenna College