On Monday, February 17, the gentlemen of campus fraternity Kappa Delta invited students of the five Claremont Colleges to attend an event titled “America Pub” via Facebook. (Pub is a weekly Wednesday night social gathering hosted by Kappa Delta.) In response to the original Facebook description, which alluded to American imperialism and superiority, several students responded negatively, asserting the belief that by venerating America, students would be implicitly celebrating human rights issues such as slavery, genocide and oppression. Over the course of the week, debate regarding the Pub theme escalated. Students on both sides of the issue explained their reasons for supporting or condemning an America-themed celebration. Recently, several news blogs picked up the story, spurring further debate. On one hand, students claim that the United States’ past, filled with atrocious acts of inhumanity, is indirectly commended in an America-themed celebration. On the other hand, other students state that the celebration is one of the present and the future, a cause to focus on the incredible privileges students enjoy as members of the Claremont community, located in the United States.
Still others view the social gathering as a lighthearted affair, neither celebrating nor condemning political or social acts of the United States of America. These students believe that Pub provides a safe, fun, communal space in which students may enjoy the company of their peers. This Pub just happens to be centered around the colors red, white and blue.
I hold my own personal views regarding the subject. My personal opinions aside, the fact that Pomona College emboldens students to debate topics of social concern, in relation to a commonplace social gathering, is inspiring. In Pomona College’s recent campaign launch, President David Oxtoby claimed “the world needs daring minds.” Daring minds change the status quo. Daring minds improve the future. Daring minds seek knowledge. Daring minds explore frightening or intimidating territory. Pomona College fosters an environment conducive to the daring-ness of minds. Whether or not the Pub theme is politically correct, Pomona students have the privilege and the space and the administrative support to discuss the matter.
And for such a privilege, Pomona students are truly blessed.