Pitzer dean lays out college’s position on encampment

Jan Barker Alexander, Pitzer College’s vice president and interim dean of students, division of student affairs. Photo/courtesy of Pitzer College

The following letter from Jan Barker Alexander, Pitzer College’s vice president and interim dean of students, division of student affairs, was sent to the Pitzer community on Wednesday, May 1.

Dear Pitzer College Community,

As we continue to navigate complex issues and strive to uphold our core and community values, I write to share some important information regarding disruption to last week’s Alumni Weekend events on campus and my hope and expectation for upcoming events.

Pitzer values the right to peaceful protest and expression and acknowledges the importance of advocating for change. These principles are central to Pitzer’s mission and core values. In order to protect everyone’s ability to engage in such activities and maintain a safe and productive learning environment for all, we must, as a community, ensure that campus demonstrations adhere to the Claremont Colleges Policy on Demonstrations and do not severely disrupt important College operations and activities. Unfortunately, on Saturday, April 27, protestors disrupted Alumni Weekend activities, causing several planned performances and events to be cancelled.

Protestors disconnected the power and took over the stage in the middle of a musical performance by an alumni band, refusing to let any performances continue. This, along with a blatant act of vandalism committed on College property, directly violated the demonstration policy. It was disrespectful to the artists, staff, vendors, and others who were unable to perform, work, or operate as planned. The inability to share their creative arts and expression deprived our community of an important educational opportunity. These actions also negatively impacted the livelihoods of external vendors who were unable to sell their products.

While activities around the encampment have remained peaceful, it (and those who established and occupy it) do not comply with multiple College and residential living policies. The encampment is also in conflict with the College’s reservation system, which requires individuals and groups to reserve space on campus for events. The tents located on the Commencement Plaza occupy an area that was already reserved through that system. It was cordoned off by the Facilities Department to set up for Commencement activities next week.

As of now, the College has not enforced the referenced policies so that we can support our students in demonstrating peacefully. Unfortunately, some protestors have repeatedly and negatively impacted others in our community and hindered the College’s ability to operate without disruption.

My hope is that the Class of 2024 and their loved ones can have the Commencement ceremonies they have been waiting for to celebrate and reflect on their journey to this moment. I sincerely hope that our entire community will support our graduating class and commit anew to the shared values of:

Ensuring Physical Safety — the safety and wellbeing of every member of our community is paramount. We are committed to maintaining a campus environment where everyone feels secure and protected.

Freedom of Expression – ensuring that all voices can be heard and are respected within our academic and residential community.

Respecting Rights While Ensuring Order: We value the right to peaceful protest and expression. It is also essential to maintain a balance that respects the rights of every member of our community, including those we might disagree with. Demonstrators must adhere to appropriate polices and not cause major disruptions that might interfere with maintaining a safe and productive learning environment for all.


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