Protests over racial tensions at another college campus in the US have led to the resignation of a high-ranking school official.
Mary Spellman, the dean of students at Claremont McKenna College — a private, liberal-arts school in Claremont, CA — has relinquished her post.
Spellman's resignation Thursday comes after students began protesting over a perceived racial bias on campus.
According to a report from the campus magazine, Claremont Independent, Spellman's resignation was the result of students' concerns that Spellman and other school officials "had not done enough to create a safe space on campus for students from marginalized backgrounds."
Claremont Independent reports the protests were bolstered by ongoing anguish over perceived racial prejudice within the small, private institution.
Spellman's response to those claims — sent in an email to one student — apparently set off a movement among students of color. In the email, Spellman wrote that the dean's office was searching for ways to better serve students "who don't fit our CMC mold."
That language was reportedly taken as a suggestion that certain students do not belong at Claremont McKenna College. Students responded with protests, and according to the local newspaper, San Bernardino Sun, two students went on a hunger strike.
Screenshot/Wesley Edwards for CMC Forum
Spellman's departure also follows an uproar over what some have called a racially insensitive photo that featured students wearing questionable Halloween costumes.
In the photo, students can be seen wearing sombreros, fake mustaches and ponchos. The attire was reportedly viewed as an attempt "to invalidate the experiences" of people of color, according to a Facebook post cited by the campus publication, The Forum.
Ethnically themed Halloween costumes are sometimes perceived as objectifying specific cultural groups for the purpose of entertainment.
In a statement, Spellman says her resignation "is the best way to gain closure of a controversy that has divided the student body and disrupted the mission of this fine institution."
Protests of a similar tone have spread throughout college campuses nationwide of late — most notably at the University of Missouri, where the school's now-former president, Tim Wolfe, stepped down this week. School chancellor R. Bowen Loftin resigned soon after.
Here's the full statement from former Claremont McKenna College dean Mary Spellman:
Since 2010 I have been privileged to serve as Dean of Students at Claremont McKenna College. Today I am submitting my letter of resignation, effective immediately. I do so with sadness beyond words, because these nearly six years have been the most rewarding and fulfilling of my life, but also with the conviction that it is the right thing to do for the school and the students I care about so deeply.I have been grateful for the support of the Administration and the heartening encouragement I have received from so many of my students, former students and colleagues. Among the calls, texts and emails I have received is a student who wrote:“You’ve inspired me in my time at CMC. Please stay strong and realize students like me need you to stay here…I will always be honored to consider you a mentor, a role model, and above all, friend.”And a faculty member who wrote:“I also recognize how much you have worked to make our community more inclusive… I know I join many fellow faculty members and students in expressing my full support and confidence in you as Dean of Students here at CMC.”To all who have been so supportive, please know how sorry I am if my decision disappoints you. I believe it is the best way to gain closure of a controversy that has divided the student body and disrupted the mission of this fine institution. Most important, I hope this will help enable a truly thoughtful, civil and productive discussion about the very real issues of diversity and inclusion facing Claremont McKenna, higher education and other institutions across our society.