By Erin Delaney ‘20
Over 200 student protesters gathered outside the Athenaeum at Claremont McKenna College on Thursday, April 7th to protest that evening’s scheduled speaker, conservative political commentator Heather MacDonald.
Mac Donald, who is the author of several books including Are Cops Racist? and The Burden of Bad Ideas: How Modern Intellectuals Misshape Our Society, arrived at Claremont McKenna to give a lecture regarding her views of the Black Lives Matter movement and the role of law enforcement officers in the modern United States.
Mac Donald’s career path is varied, notably including several commentating appearances on channels such as Fox News, a position as the Thomas W. Smith fellow at the Manhattan Institute, and a contributing editor of the City Journal. She is known for her inflammatory positions regarding issues such as police brutality, racial profiling, immigration, terrorism, and welfare programs.
Many Claremont students were outraged at the prospect of Mac Donald’s presentation at the Athenaeum, organizing a protest via Facebook to call community members to action. The Facebook event, which has since been deleted, called for students to show up at Claremont McKenna in black clothing.
The organizers invited their classmates to “shut down” the lecture, emphasizing their disapproval of Mac Donald’s political stances, and saying that she “condemns the Black Lives Matter movement, supports racist police officers, and supports increasing fascist ‘law and order.’”
The protesters succeeded in shutting down the physical event. They congregated in front of the entrance to the Athenaeum and blocking students and faculty from entering the building to see Mac Donald speak, holding signs with slogans such as “No Justice, No Peace” and “Black Lives Matter.”
In lieu of the Athenaeum’s original programming, Claremont McKenna decided to live stream MacDonald’s lecture. Speaking to an empty room, Mac Donald gave her lecture in a video that has now been viewed over seven thousand times.
Claremont McKenna first-year Andrew Ciacci expressed disappointment in the results of the protest. A self-proclaimed supporter of “the first amendment and of BLM,” Ciacci expressed that “the most troubling thing for [him] was that the only person who really won the day was Heather Mac Donald. She was effectively able to receive money for her speech, spread her toxic views without being challenged by the brightest minds of Claremont, and walked away with evidence that can support her narrative of the repressive left to her viewers.”
This view was echoed by CMC President Hiram Chodosh, who published a statement addressed to the student body in which he stated that “the effort to silence her voice effectively amplified it to a much larger audience.” The President later sent a student-wide email declaring that “blocking access to buildings violates College policy” and that “CMC students who are found to have violated policies will be held accountable.”
The Scripps Voice reached out to various protestors at the Athenaeum, all of whom declined to comment.