Readers comments: December 10, 2021
Regarding “We need to return to law & order,” published in December 3 edition of the COURIER
Kris Meyer is correct when he states “Lady Justice is supposed to be blind folded, but in present day society there seems to be different rules for different ‘classes’ of people.” When a boy is exonerated for murder, white collar crime is treated as “business”, and rape thought as “boys being boys,” it is clear justice is not blind and has been looking the other way. When we start treating crime as crime, we can stop looking at the statistics.
Response to “Tax-smart charitable giving strategies,” published in December 3 edition of the COURIER
I read with interest Don Gould’s Money and Investing column, “Tax-Smart Charitable Giving Strategies.” Although not surprising, it was nonetheless disappointing to read that the newly “reformed” tax code once again modifies or removes itemized deductions that benefited many middle income households, resulting in the selection of the standard deduction by many that previously itemized their deduction, including the amount given to non-profit programs and organizations.
Of particular concern to me, and I suspect many of our local non-profits that rely on receiving many small donations from residents, is the possible reduction in this donor group’s level of giving as a result of not having to perform the annual tally of itemized deductions.
Which leads me to propose a possible win-win outcome for both Mr. Gould’s clients and our local non-profit community based organizations (CBO) based on the donation strategy of Put Claremont First (www.putclaremontfirst.com). By describing the tangible benefits of a charitable giving strategy that targets local CBOs, and by providing a portfolio of local non-profit program and service providers that help our neighbors in need and enrich our quality of life, the financial advisors at Gould Asset Management would be facilitating a charitable giving strategy that meets their client’s tax and charitable giving objectives, while recognizing and sustaining the significant contributions local CBO’s make to our very special community.
Whether it be the individual or couple that itemize deductions their total qualified deductions exceed the standard deduction, or bunch their gifts in order to qualify their giving as a deduction, the functions served by donor-advised funds would allow scheduled gifting to one’s selected recipients, providing a stable and recurrent source of funding.
And finally, the roller coaster ride our community, nation, and world have endured for decades, and barely survived during the last five years, has not been without a negative impact on our community. By targeting our giving to local non-profit organizations that serve our most vulnerable and provide programs and services that enrich our lives, we can help re-establish their role as the heart and soul of our caring and sharing community.
Editor’s Note: The holiday season also brings out unique opinions from Claremont College students receiving class credit for publishing a letter in the COURIER. Their letters are always welcome… anytime during the year. — PW
Proud to be a part of McKenna volleyball
My name is Jenna Holmes and I am a student at Claremont McKenna College and I play on the volleyball team. I had noticed an article titled “Athenas near-perfect season ends in NCAA semis” and I wanted to elaborate on it since I am personally on the team.
This team is like no other team I have been on before. Coming in as a sophomore without a freshman season was a little scary, but once I stepped foot on the court, the girls were overwhelmingly nice and welcoming. I am sure from the outside anyone can tell we are a close team, however, this team cares about each other more than anyone could imagine. I feel that these girls have become my family.
At the beginning of the season, I never expected us to go as far as we did. I am so proud of the season that we had.
We are an incredibly young team and I know that we are going to have a shot at the championship in the next coming years (especially when we host the championship in 2023). Keep watching for CMS volleyball because we will definitely be back next year!
Claremont McKenna College
Class selection process: Is the current system inequitable to student athletes?
The clock hits 3:15 p.m. which marks the beginning of the late spring registration period that you were randomly assigned to even though you are a spring season student athlete. You log in on to the registration portal only to find out that half of the classes you were planning on taking are entirely full with 15 perm requests already submitted. Now you are stuck digging deep into your bag of “backups” for classes that will not assist in the completion of your major. What is making it even more difficult for you is that you are unable to take any class past 2:30 p.m. due to your practice schedule. You feel overwhelmed and frustrated that this is the process you are forced into. Especially in light of the fact that your parents are paying an exorbitant tuition for you to take classes that will be of little benefit to you because you couldn’t get into the classes you need.
Student athletes are at a substantial disadvantage during registration for the semester of their season and must rely on “luck” to get into the classes they need. It should not be this way. There needs to be an adjustment to the system to level the playing field and provide some sort of priority enrollment in early classes to athletes during season, as these student athletes have their pool of potential courses significantly reduced by being unable to take classes after 2 p.m.
I recognize that during an athlete’s offseason there is no need for an adjustment and they should not be given any sort of preferential treatment. However, during their respective in-season semester, there simply needs to be some improved method of allowing student athletes to be able to enroll in the early classes they need to graduate.
Claremont McKenna College
CMC dining in the Claremont Village
For years, an integral part of the Claremont Consortium to the student experience has been the interconnectedness of cross-campus dining. However, I am curious as to why the leap to further integrate the local community through dining plans that include restaurants in the Claremont Village have yet to come to fruition.
Prior to the pandemic (I was a freshman at the time), the importance of interacting with the local community became quite apparent to me. Although the consortium has a wonderful way of enabling students to leave the small bubble of their respective schools through a variety of means (the most relevant in this case still being cross-campus dining), the result is not exactly an absolute broadening of horizons. Rather, the bubble still exists: implicitly excluding the rest of Claremont from the consortium. Understandably, this might be perceived as an exaggeration by most students at the 5Cs due to the high activity the local restaurants in the Village get from them. However, there is still a case to be made about integrating their restaurants into the CMC dining experience.
For one, the cost per meal at Collins Dining Hall can easily match those at any of the lovely establishments the Village has to offer. For example, prices per meal can range from about $14 for those on the 16-swipe plan to a whopping $25 for those on 8-swipe plan (the lowest option) (sourced from an article in the CMC Forum). Furthermore, this is not necessarily an uncommon practice in higher education dining systems. Many institutions have “dining dollar” plans (not too dissimilar to Claremont Cash) that enable students to purchase food items at local eating establishments on (or even near) campus. Naturally, I imagine that there are more nuanced reasons that I am unable to address, but I believe that the reasons above, at the very least, warrant consideration of revising CMC’s existing dining hall packages.
Claremont McKenna College
Claremont Village should be utilized more for college students
As students grow more and more frustrated with the COVID restrictions and campus life at the Claremont Colleges, it begs the response that the Claremont Village should be utilized more for college students. I recorded a sample of 20 students, two males and two females from every college, and 18/20 answered that they are underwhelmed with campus activities and would like to spend more time in the Village.
Before the pandemic, the Claremont unemployment rate and economic activity of the businesses in the Village were on a slow incline. However, following a full year hiatus of student life, the Claremont Village still seems eager to cement itself as an up and coming, live, suburban college town. The city of Claremont has recently released their plans for the expansion of the Claremont Village and emphasizes construction/renovations to Indian Hill street, making it a downtown avenue, along with expanding smaller retail stores and restaurants into larger more inviting social gatherings. The addition of multiple fun social eateries seems to come as a necessity; most college towns survive off of students spending all nights downtown, going to bars, restaurants, and socializing. The Village has unbelievable potential to act as a part of the Claremont Colleges student life. A town that clearly needs a bit of modern push, additions and renovations to make for a more lively and slightly younger crowd could be just what the Village needs to roar again.
Claremont McKenna College
Pedestrian safety around the Claremont Colleges
The Claremont Colleges have always been a safe space for people to walk around, whether students, faculty, or community members. Most cars drive slowly on campus and almost always yield to pedestrians. However, there is a specific location where I have noticed dangerous encounters between vehicles and pedestrians.
The Sixth Street and Amherst Avenue intersection is extremely busy, with hundreds of people and cars passing hourly. Though there are many stop signs for pedestrians along Sixth Street, there are none at the intersection with the most foot traffic. Sixth Street is a road numerous students and faculty cross to get to south Pomona campus. Additionally, Amherst Avenue is a road that divides Claremont McKenna College and Pomona, and it can get very hectic as well. Especially at night, where it may be hard to see pedestrians, the need for a stop sign is quite evident.
For the safety of all pedestrians at the Claremont Colleges, I call for the City of Claremont to install a stop sign at the intersection of Sixth Street and Amherst Avenue to ensure the community’s safety.
Claremont McKenna College
Elitism and athletic programs
For small liberal arts schools, the Claremont Colleges have surprisingly robust (albeit D3) athletic programs. Future hall of fame NBA coach Gregg Popovich even called the 6th Street rivalry between Claremont-Mudd-Scripps and Pomona-Pitzer his most intense experience as a coach. Despite this, little to none of the enthusiasm seems to come from the fulltime residents of the surrounding areas. I can’t remember a time I saw any sizeable contingent of local parents and kids coming out to watch a Claremont College’s athletic event. I believe there are two reasons for this: The elitist nature of the Claremont Colleges, and a lack of effort to bridge the ever-present gaps.
Widely regarded as some of the top small liberal arts schools in the country, the Claremont Colleges have a reputation for being elitist, and for good reason. A recent New York Times article revealed that both Claremont McKenna and Pitzer have more students from the top 1% than the bottom 60% of the income scale. Scripps, Harvey Mudd, and Pomona aren’t much better, with the bottom 60% on the income scale making up 4% more of the student body than the top 1% on average. The income gap between the families of the colleges and the residents of the surrounding areas is ever-present. Pomona and Montclair, the closest cities with sizeable populations, have average household incomes of around $60k and $70k respectively. Looking at this data, it’s not difficult to understand the lack of connection and ownership the nearby residents feel to the colleges.
While elitism factors into the equation, money and class status are surely gaps that can be bridged. Unfortunately, it seems that little is being done to change the relationship. Other schools have employed strategies such as giveaways, ball-people programs, and player-fan interactions to increase community engagement. In my experience, very few similar strategies have been employed by the Claremont Colleges. Allowing kids to shag balls or get posters signed by athletes and potential role models costs next to nothing, yet has the potential to mean everything. As a kid, I remember attending a club soccer night at my local state school and being motivated to follow in the footsteps of the players. I snagged a miniature soccer ball that was thrown into the crowd and treasured it for years. Programs and experiences like these not only inspire kids, but they make players feel appreciated and like valuable members of the community. It builds bridges and enhances the experience for players and fans alike.
The way things stand right now, the Claremont Colleges are more akin to colleges that just happen to be in Claremont. With a concerted effort, a stronger bond could be established between the athletic programs and the surrounding communities, to the benefit of all.
Claremont McKenna College
Do police in schools do more harm than good?
Children should be educated, not incarcerated. Do police protect schools or do they harm children, especially Black and Brown children? How should we ensure that our students are safe in schools?
The Pomona City Council recently approved a contract between the Pomona Unified School District (PUSD) and the Pomona police department, returning law enforcement presence in the form of School Resource Officers, or SROs, back onto school campuses. Pomona school officials said that unrest in schools as students transitioned to in-person learning resulted in an increase of calls to the police department, and a shooting in October outside Pomona High School, led to the reversal of the groundbreaking summer decision of PUSD to school police services from the budget.
The Claremont Unified School District (CUSD) also voted to eliminate SROs from their schools over the summer. However, the Claremont police recently announced that because the position is jointly funded by the City of Claremont and CUSD, a mutual decision on the future of SROs has yet to be finalized.
We know how exclusionary discipline policies — suspensions, expulsions, and in-school arrests, affect youth of color. Gente Organizada, a Pomona nonprofit, reported that over 22% of Pomona youth arrested were Black, despite only 6% of Pomona’s population being Black. Black and Latinx girls were also disproportionately arrested. This phenomenon is known as the school-to-prison pipeline.
The school-to-prison pipeline is a national trend in which K-12 policies and practices push students, particularly students of color, out of school and into the juvenile justice system. For immigrants and undocumented youth, school pushout can result in detention and deportation. So how does the school-to-prison pipeline relate to the decision whether to fund SROs in PUSD and CUSD? Do SROs make students safer or contribute to the pipeline?
First, we must understand that the disproportionate pushout of students of color, locally and across the United States, is not solely rooted in SRO presence in schools. The pipeline begins with separate and unequal learning environments, where students of color are disproportionately exposed to overcrowded classrooms, lack of qualified teachers, insufficient funding for counselors, and altogether inadequate resources in public schools. In fact, 14 million students are in schools with a police presence, but don’t have a single counselor, nurse, psychologist, or social worker.
Zero-tolerance policies also allow schools to act as institutions that reinforce existing power structures which disproportionately harm Black students and other students of color. These policies are automatically harsh and punitive, without understanding mental health and how systemic oppression impacts these students. The policing and surveillance of Black students and students of color reinforces hegemony — maintaining the status quo.
Police presence in schools is one of the most vital components of the pushout system. The number of SROs nationally has increased significantly since the mid-1990s. Although White teenage boys are most likely to initiate school shootings, schools that have a majority of students of color have the highest rate of implementing surveillance and police presence in schools, which reinforces the idea that youth of color need surveillance.
The Pomona Unified School District also reinforces this. In PUSD, there were 1,711 incidents reported to law enforcement between 2018-2021. Only 18 students were referred to school psychologists or mental health specialists. The student body of PUSD is made up of mainly students of color — 86.5% Latinx youth, 4.6% Asian/Pacific Islander youth, and 4.1% Black youth.
Research on SROs nationally found that their increased presence in school has been one of the largest contributing factors to the formal processing of youth into the juvenile justice system and the increased rates of student citations in schools for actions that would not otherwise be seen as criminal but violate school rules; for example—refusing to follow dress code, using profanity with school administers, refusing to present ID, or misbehaving. The presence of law enforcement has blurred lines between education and criminal justice, as daily exchanges and interactions with law enforcement normalize the use of prison terminology and culture in school settings, according to research by Dr. Monique Morris. Approximately 76% of middle and high school students attended a school with lock entrance or exit door, which is an increase from 65% in 2011 and 38% in 1999.
In the end, this question is larger than policy and funding decisions. The heart of the debate surrounding SROs and safety in schools is how we want to care for our community. Should we focus on creating an environment where students can be safe to express their emotions, process traumas, take accountability for harm that they’ve caused, and heal? If this is what the community cares about, PUSD and CUSD should formally invest in restorative practices, school psychologists, and divest in police in schools — so children are free to be educated, not incarcerated.
What I learned as a fifth-year senior
I decided to take a gap year during what would have been my final year of undergraduate studies at Claremont McKenna College. The COVID-19 pandemic heavily affected my family’s income and I felt as the eldest child that I should take the year off and work to help my parents. During the year, I extended my post at my summer internship and worked part-time making pizzas at the local Domino’s.
At first, I was happy that I would get to finish school in person rather than on Zoom. Finishing up junior year online was rough. I loved going to class because of the meaningful interactions that I get to have with my professors and so learning over video calls and Zoom office hours did not feel right to me. Also, it felt good to make money and get more work experience. I was unsure about what I wanted to do after graduation and having an extra year to explore my interests to help make up my mind was good. Overall, the pandemic seemed like a blessing in disguise.
As the gap year was coming to an end, I was meeting up with my friends and classmates who came back to Claremont for graduation parties and pictures. For a week, I would finish my shift at Domino’s and drive over to hang out with my friends. As they were graduating, the topic of what they would be doing upon graduation came up in all of our conversations. While I was proud of them and aware of the sacrifice they made in finishing their last year of college online, I couldn’t help but feel left behind listening to their plans. The excitement of finishing college in person that got me through quarantine had fleeted away with the realization that I was stuck and without my closest friends.
For the first few weeks of school, I opted to spend my free time in my room. Seeing the same tables and fields that I used to hang out with my friends would make me miss them uncontrollably. Interacting with others would only make me sadder as I question myself why I was not happy about being back as I pretended to be.
It took a while for me to be honest with myself that I was on a downward spiral of depression and that I needed to change before I let another year pass by and regret it after it ends. I went to therapy for the first time in my life and started doing little things like making my bed first thing in the morning and trying to see the sun right after to make myself better. Here are some things that I learned this year.
I learned that it is okay to not feel happy all the time. Being brought up in a very religious household, I was constantly told to be grateful for the life that I have. And though I am no longer religious, that mindset had stuck with me and I would ask myself the whole year “How dare you be unhappy?”, especially during a pandemic year in which people lost their lives and were much more affected by COVID-19 than my family and I had been. How you feel matters and there is no need to feel guilty about emotions that you can’t control.
I learned that how I feel about a situation depends on my perspective, which will affect how I handle the situation, which will circle back to either improve or worsen how I feel. First step to feeling better is to change the perspective you have. When you are depressed, you will find it hard to find the positives as everything seems to be going wrong. What helped me was writing down a list of things and people that I appreciate having in my life. Regarding being a fifth-year senior, even though I no longer see my closest friends every day, I realized how lucky I was to be able to make new friends by coming back to campus.
Most importantly, I learned that change won’t happen overnight. The negative emotions that I was feeling were built up for months and doing a day of self-help regimens won’t rid them immediately.
None of these are groundbreaking, I’ve heard all of them before. However, they felt like revelations as I had to consciously apply them to make myself better. I hope they can help you if you have not been feeling yourself.
Claremont McKenna College