Advanced

Heather Mac Donald, Claremont McKenna College

April 2017
Claremont McKenna College (Private college or university)
Claremont, California, USA

Identity of Speakers

  • Heather Mac Donald
    Faculty/Staff
    Invited for non-academic lecture

    Heather Mac Donald is an American attorney, political commentator and essayist. She has generally advocated for conservative views on criminal justice reform, policing, immigration, and race.

Resources

Additional Information

  • Incident Nature:
    University-sponsored lecture/address/panel
    Rally or protest
  • Incident Responses:
    University administration protective of speech
    University administration invoked formal speech code in response to incident
  • Incident Status:
    No litigation
  • Incident Protested
  • Was Speech Code incident

Summary

In April 2017, protestors at Claremont McKenna College blocked the door to a room on campus where Heather Mac Donald was supposed to speak about criminal justice reform. The students cited Mac Donald’s views on criminal justice reform and the Black Lives Matter Movement, which they perceived to be racist. Mac Donald was unable to give her talk in person, but later live-streamed it over the internet.

The college punished seven students involved with the incident: three were suspended for a year, two were suspended for a semester, and two were placed on “conduct probation.” About 170 students participated in the demonstration. College officials explained that, while students had every right to protest Mac Donald’s appearance, they had violated the college’s conduct code by preventing her from speaking. Some critics of Claremont’s decision to punish the students note that Mac Donald was still able to speak, as she later live-streamed her talk.

Mac Donald is a known critic of the Black Lives Matter movement. She attracted controversy in 2016 when she published her book, The War on Cops. In the book, she criticizes the Black Lives Matter movement, and claims that criminals have been emboldened by heightened levels of police scrutiny. In an interview after the student’s punishments were announced, Mac Donald commended the college for speaking out in favor of free speech and for holding the students accountable.