The Other McCain

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Campus Insanity: Why Does Claremont Need a ‘Queer Resource Center’?

Posted on | September 29, 2016 | 3 Comments

 

In a review of protests last year on the campus of the Claremont Colleges (which include Scripps, Pomona, Pitzer, Harvey Mudd and Claremont McKenna), I was intrigued by something in this story:

“We need to be less afraid of being called racists, classists, and ableists, and more afraid of actually being those things,” lamented one student at Scripps College’s BeHeard Forum. The subject we had gathered to discuss was Silencing and Tone Policing — two phrases I had never heard until the week prior, when several Facebook comment wars exploded over supposed racialized and transphobic event titles, descriptions, and surveys. People’s actions and intentions soon became irrelevant because only language, and those who got to wield it, mattered.
Such encounters do not come as a surprise. We live in a time when extreme political correctness and campus movements — started mostly by minority students in an effort to silence any speech that they find hurtful or offensive — are raging across the country. The BeHeard Forum, intended to be a forum for resolving differences, quickly became an opportunity for people identifying as “victims” to complain about their pain and suffering while stifling constructive discourse concerning what constitutes appropriate campus debate. The forum highlighted the desire of some campus groups to ensure that those individuals with whom they disagree not be heard at all.
This particular forum was held in response to a Scripps Voice poll. The writer asked, “Are you aware of any Scripps stereotypes? Do they affect you?” The stereotypes in question essentially boil down to “promiscuous student” or “earnest feminist.” Somehow, this too became an issue of race when students began questioning if “fitting in” to a Scripps stereotype meant belonging to a certain race.
And then there was the outrage over a feminist event which served cupcakes decorated with vulvas, at which a former employee of the Queer Resource Center became incensed, stating, “How dare you associate vulvas with being a woman. I feel so violated.” Despite apologies from the event organizer, the conversation devolved into accusations of insensitivity towards trans women. . . .

You can read the whole thing. Probably your initial reaction, like mine, is to wonder why Scripps College (annual tuition $50,983) employed someone so deficient in knowledge of basic biology that they don’t understand why vulvas are associated with being a woman.

 

We need not wonder why vulva-decorated cupcakes are being served at a “feminist event” at Scripps, a West Coast version of those pricey women’s colleges like Bryn Mawr and Mount Holyoke where rich parents send their lesbian daughters. Scripps made the lesbian blog Autostraddle’s listing of top “LGBT-Friendly College Campuses”:

The environment at Scripps is extremely safe and friendly for queer womyn and our growing number of trans students . . .
[The Queer Resource Center] is a friendly, welcoming, accepting and affirming space. Queer women of color should be on the lookout for Queer People of Color Brunches and monthly gatherings.
Nearby gay clubs include The Hookup, Oasis, Alibi East and Menagerie.

We may conclude that snacking on vulvas is a popular pastime among students at Scripps, if not yet a mandatory part of the curriculum. However, the known prevalence of lesbianism among Scripps students (and the “LGBT-friendly” climate at Claremont more generally) gives rise to the question of what purpose the Queer Resource Center serves. Given how famously gay Claremont is, one assumes that no student who finds homosexuality objectionable would ever enroll there.

If everyone on campus is already “LGBT-friendly,” what exactly is the Queer Resource Center’s mission?

The QRC has something for everyone
Whether you identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, asexual, omnisexual, pansexual, or as an ally, the QRC has something to offer you! Our space houses a great collection of over 1,200 LGBTQIA-related books and movies, which can be checked out for free and used as textbooks for classes or research material for papers. The QRC’s student staff members work hard every semester to hold a number of fantastic programs in addition to co-sponsoring many other events with various organizations.
Our lounge and lobby (aka rainbow ski lodge) can be used for organizational meetings, doing homework and studying, or simply hanging out with good friends in a safer and more welcoming space. The lounge also includes two computers for 7Cs student use. Come on by to write a paper, do research, check your email, or what have you, all in the relaxed and welcoming environment of The QRC!
In addition to the student staff members . . . and a graduate assistant from Claremont Graduate University, the QRC Director and Program Coordinator are both available for drop-in hours. If you are dealing with issues of sexual orientation or gender identity, coming out, research, or just to say hi — their doors are open!

Yes, their doors are open at the QRC, where the staff “strive to embody” such principles as “Using Social Justice as a Framework and Queerness as a Lens.” This is why parents pay $50,983 a year in tuition, so their kids can learn to think in terms of social justice and queerness. That the QRC may be superfluous at such an LGBT-friendly school is not an idea that is likely to occur to elite liberal arts students, who are accustomed to having college administrators and faculty indulge their whims. If Daddy’s paying $66,664 a year (tuition plus $15,681 for room and board) to send his daughter to Scripps, we may assume that he expects the school to pander shamelessly to whatever his precious princess demands.

When they’re not busy snacking on vulvas, the girls at Scripps College can pursue Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies:

We offer an interdisciplinary framework through which to explore the social construction of gender and sexuality and the material impact of these constructions. We offer historical, contemporary, and transnational analyses of how the formation of gender and sexualities emerge in different contexts such as colonialisms, nationalisms, and globalization. From our engagement with, and critique of, disciplinary practices in the arts, humanities, natural sciences, and social sciences, we forge new critical paradigms and methods for generating feminist knowledges. Our creation of new critical paradigms relies on the linking of knowledge formation to activism and social justice movements. Our courses satisfy campus breadth requirements, develop critical analysis and writing skills, and transform students’ understanding of and engagement with the world around them.
A student who majors in Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies will gain a strong liberal arts training in critical theory and social justice.

Critical theory and social justice — very much in demand at Scripps College, although not so much in the profit-making private sector where the student’s Daddy earned that $66,664 he’s paying to send his daughter “to explore the social construction of gender and sexuality.”

And also, eat some vulva cupcakes.




 

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