Southern California college dean resigns amid racial issues

In this Nov. 9, 2015, file photo, students cheer while listening to members of the black student protest group Concerned Student 1950 speak following the announcement that University of Missouri System President Tim Wolfe would resign at the university in Columbia, Mo. In the ouster of the Missouri’s president, leaders of student groups on other campuses dealing with racial strife see an opening to press their own university administrators for better treatment of black students. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, File)

CLAREMONT, Calif. (AP) — The dean of students at a small Southern California college resigned Thursday after protests linked to racial concerns on campus.

Mary Spellman, who held the position at Claremont McKenna College since 2010, announced her resignation in an email to students.

“I believe it is the best way to gain closure of a controversy that has divided the student body,” she wrote.

“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,” Spellman added.

Student protesters had demanded her resignation amid complaints that her office wasn’t doing enough to deal with the concerns of students of color and others who felt marginalized.

Last month, Spellman responded to a college newspaper piece by a Latina student discussing her concerns by saying that Spellman would work to help students who “don’t fit our CMC mold.”

“This was her decision. She did not consult with anyone in the administration before making her decision,” college spokesman Max Benavidez said.

However, “it was the right thing to do given the situation,” he said.

Spellman’s decision also follows Monday’s resignation of the University of Missouri’s president and chancellor in the face of racially tinged protests.

The liberal arts school east of Los Angeles has a high academic reputation and around 20 percent of its students are international students. School figures showed that as of last fall, the campus had 1,325 students, including 57 African-Americans, 180 Hispanics and 137 Asians.

Last April, about 30 students wrote to President Hiram E. Chodosh to say they felt excluded and among other things asked for a mentoring program and more diversity in hiring.

There also were tensions over a photo that appeared on social media showing the junior class president with white women who were wearing false mustaches, sombreros, ponchos and holding maracas at a Halloween party.

Spellman’s resignation came a day after the school president announced the creation of new “leadership positions” on diversity and inclusion in student and academic affairs.

 

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 

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