This past school year has, in some ways, been a time of beginnings. In international politics, October marked the beginning of the #metoo movement. In national politics, the #NeverAgain Movement took off this past February. And in local politics, Whittier held its first multi-district election this past April. A lot has happened in these past few months at the College as well. The Quaker Campus (QC) is recounting the biggest news stories of the past year.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and California Majority Leader Ian Caldron held an open forum at Whittier College’s Ruth B. Shannon Center on Oct. 5. Their forum was disrupted by a number of Becerra and Caldron’s detractors — Trump supporters who showed up and shouted for the event’s duration, leading to an early closure. The forum was not actually a college event, it was just being hosted on campus. As such, it was Becerra’s choice to permit the protesters to remain. “We talked with the Attorney General about it and the Assembly Majority Leader,” said President Herzberger. “The Attorney General was adamant that this is a public event, they have a right to be here, they have a right to speak, and he was not going to prevent them from doing that.”
This year, Whittier College won its first rivalry game by default against Occidental in three years. This was meant to be Whittier’s homecoming game, also known as the “Battle for the Shoes.” The winner of this game would get a pair of bronzed shoes, once worn by Whittier College graduate Myron Claxton. Occidental was unable to play, due to a lack of players, so Whittier won the shoes.
The selection of Whittier College’s incoming President, Linda Oubre, was a year-long process; one the QC first reported on in late October. Whittier College assembled a Presidential Search Committee and, with the counseling of private consulting firm Witt/Kieffer, selected Linda Oubre out of 100 plus candidates. She will replace Whittier’s current retiring President, Sharon Herzberger, next Fall.
The Associated Students of Whittier College (ASWC) First-year Class Council (FCC) President stepped down in February, following the lead of the Campus Relations Director and Residential Hall Representative. All three members stepped down as a reaction to what they viewed as discrimination by certain members of the Whittier college administration. They were replaced in subsequent weeks, with FCC Vice-President Destiny Barrientos taking over as FCC President and Kole Joachim’s promotion to Campus Relations Director. As no one applied to become the next Residential Hall Representative, and with the school year nearing its end, ASWC chose to leave the position vacant.
Whittier College was not immune from the influence of larger politics. At 10:00, on March 14, roughly 200 students participated in the national walkout organized by EMPOWER, a youth-branch of the Women’s March social movement. Poets there signed posters to show their support, and third-year Taylor Charles gave a speech. Professor of Religious Studies Rosemary Carbine spoke as well, and played the protest song “Singing for Our Lives,” by Holly Near.
Whittier also played an unwilling host to an individual who, for unknown reasons, chose to burn an LGBTQIA+ flag on campus. On March 10, he came on campus and set fire to a flag that he had hung from a trash can. He was chased off campus by campus safety officers and escaped into Uptown. A number of students voiced disappointment that the school did not alert them to presence of this individual. “It’s always a tough call to make when you notify people, and I think it wasn’t a direct threat to any one individual,” said Whittier College Vice President Joel Perez. “I think we just felt at the time [that it] didn’t merit a lot of attention.”
On a different note, this year’s Whittfest was cut short. The event featured rapper Tory Lanez, who only performed for 34 of his contracted 60 minutes before abruptly ending his performance. Program Board assembled the event and though it went well, aside from the short performance. “We have heard concerns from students, mainly about the performance time, but have also heard from many that they greatly enjoyed the event,” said second-year Program Board Director Isabelle Zonni.
These are the biggest Whittier College news stories of the year. If you would like to read more about anything mentioned in this article, go to www.thequakercampus.org