In Defense Of Dr. Jonathan Higgins
An open letter to Miriam Feldblum,Vice President and Dean of Students and Jan Collins-Eaglin, Associate Dean of Students for Personal Success and Wellness at Pomona College from outraged Student Affairs Professionals

Dear Dr. Miriam Feldblum and Dr. Jan Collins- Eaglin:

We are writing this letter to express our outrage with the firing of Dr. Jonathan Higgins as the Director of Claremont College’s Queer Resource Center. We, a collective of Student Affairs professionals from across the nation and with a multitude of identities, are united against the actions you’ve taken and the impact that they’ll have across our field. We understand your choice to end Dr. Higgins’ employment to be a form of gatekeeping that keeps Black queer professionals out of key positions to create change in higher education.

The College Fix, a right leaning student written news website published a piece about tweets from Dr. Higgins reflecting on his lived experiences as a queer Black man. The website chose to focus on an April tweet in which Higgins replied to the question “who are you automatically wary of/keep at a distance because of your past experiences?” - “White gays and well-meaning white women,”. If history has taught us anything, we know that Dr. Higgins’ experiences and caution are valid. White gay men have become the primary enactors of violence toward queer people of color. Recently in Philadelphia, white gay men were angered because the city introduced a new pride flag with added black and brown stripes. The colors, according to the Philadelphia Office of LGBT Affairs’ More Color More Pride campaign, represent inclusion of people of color in the LGBTQ community. Dr. Mamta Motwani Accapadi has written about and presented on the ways white women have enacted violence on people of color and served to perpetuate and benefit from white supremacy.

Dr. Higgins’ work has always centered queer students of color and has spoken out about the harm of heteronormativity, homonegativity, White fragility and White supremacy in relation to queer students. As quoted from the QRC website, “The Dean of Students staff is committed to building and maintaining a vibrant community which is inclusive and open to new and differing experiences and viewpoints.” As a public serving institution, Claremont has the obligation to serve a broad constituency to ensure it fosters an inclusive and supportive campus environment where its members feel valued, respected, are able to flourish, and continue to be unobstructed in their pursuit of their fullest potential. The commitment to diversity has to acknowledge that there are differences that make a difference, with the idea that historical inequities, legalities, and legacies negatively impact marginalized students and their ability to thrive in many campus environments. With that in mind, when we aim to create an equitable space, we should strive to center those who have historically and contemporarily been marginalized and ignored by our institutions of higher education. Specifically, these spaces should value and celebrate the voices and lived experiences of those historically marginalized by systems of oppression as catalysts for institutional equity and social change, we can’t uphold the systems we seek to dismantle.

We would like to state in no uncertain terms that the firing of Dr. Higgins is a gross injustice and serves as an act of violence and silencing of queer black voices. The actions of Dr. Feldblum and the Dean of Students office at Pomona College goes directly against its stated mission of “[p]rioritizing lived experiences and centering voices of those who have multiple marginalized identities” It seems clear that this statement isn’t enforced through action. This is an example of representational diversity without a structure to support the lived experiences of those with multiple marginalized identities.. Our lived experiences as Student Affairs professionals inform and support our work with students with multiple marginalized identities.

The firing of Dr. Higgins sets a dangerous precedent for the field of student affairs--that those who directly and unapologetically challenge white supremacy, white fragility, and the multitude of problematic aspects of higher education and the dominant culture, will simply be discarded in favor of someone who will perpetuate the status quo. As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once stated, "...large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility & the status quo than about justice & humanity.” This has proven, time and again, to be true.

We refuse to sit idly by as Dr. Higgins, and by extension, countless black and brown queer and trans students, faculty, and staff, is denied his humanity and publicly shamed. To that end, we demand the following things as a response from Dr. Feldblum, Dr. Collins-Eaglin, Pomona College, and the Claremont Colleges:

1. The resignation of Dr. Feldblum for the gross missteps of both firing Dr. Higgins and continuously refusing to support marginalized students. For context, please visit
2. A public apology to Dr. Higgins from all involved parties that acknowledges the harm done.
3. A fully transparent search process while searching for Dr. Higgins’ replacement to ensure that queer and trans students of color will be supported and their perspectives will be actively included and valued.
4. A carefully thought out plan for supporting queer and trans students of color and queer and trans faculty and staff of color. This is crucial in minimizing the suffering of queer and trans students of color that is inevitable now that their advocate has been ousted.
5. A carefully thought out plan for addressing White fragility and White supremacy in the Claremont Colleges.

Moving forward, we, and those who join us through their signature refuse to apply to positions within the Claremont Colleges, as this environment is clearly not safe for anyone who fights for, promotes, or supports social justice.

In Solidarity,

Celeste Demby
Caley Logsdon, Arizona State University
Nicole J. Johnson, Virginia Tech
CJ Venable
Kayla Tyson, Emory University
S.R. Gibson, Gonzaga University
Meghan Dooley, University of Missouri - Kansas City
Alden Jones, University of Texas-Austin
Robert Alberts, Arizona State University
Tim Dufresne
Bradley Brooks, Northern Virginia Community College
Amanda Baker, University of Maryland
Dawn Morgan, African American Cultural Center, NC State University
Gayatri Sethi, (Former) Agnes Scott College
Simone Medley, MA, University of San Francisco School of Education Alum 16
Brittany Harris, Med, Washington University in St. Louis
Nick Thuot, Iowa State University
Steven Kendrick, Berkeley College
Emily Holub
Ramona Gupta
JLP Prince, Agnes Scott College
Lona Davenport, University of Missouri - Kansas City
Lena Tenney, The Ohio State University
Dr. Michael D. Hoffshire, University of New Orleans
Ashley Rizzotto, Nova Southeastern University
Amanda Vasi, Agnes Scott College
Ariel Owens
Erich Pitcher, Oregon State University, Diversity & Cultural Engagement
Nina M. Sichterman, University of North Texas
T.J. Jourian
Vanessa Johnson, University of Utah
Atiya McGhee, Area Coordinator for Multicultural and Identity Based Communities, Oberlin College
Cameron Breither, Suffolk University
Mark Chung Kwan Fan
Felicia Walker, UWRF
Chelsea Fullerton, Lehigh University
Rowen Thomas, University of Northern Colorado
Scott Burden, Lehigh University
Sarah Watkins, Independent Scholar
Tyler Fultz, Colorado State University
Washieka Torres, Bowling Green State University
Stephen John Quaye, Miami University
Sean Smallwood, University of Minnesota - Twin Cities
Washieka Torres, Bowling Green State University
Sara Mata, NASPA LKC Co-chair
Tristan Morton, Edgewood College
Mariah Deguzman
Jessica Newman, Cal State Monterey Bay
Mark Smiley, Muhlenberg College
Emelyne Woessner, Oregon State University
Britt Semenow, Eastman School of Music at University of Rochester
David Polizzi
Ashley Maitland, Assistant Director of Residential Life at Amherst College
Jessica Boor, Columbus State Community College
Antonio Duran, The Ohio State University
R.B. Brooks. University of Minnesota Duluth
Molly Hall-Martin
Becca Hammond-Cahill, UC Davis
Jose Arce, University of Florida
Krista Benson, Grand Valley State University
Evan Thornburg
Kim Martin
Katie Schmitt, Berklee College of Music
Michael Brick, University of Maryland
Christine Nguyen, University of Colorado Denver
Romeo Jackson, University of Utah
Quin Rich, Emory University
Maia Butler, University of North Carolina Wilmington
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Esther Wallace, UC Santa Cruz
Catherine Jermany, CSU Dominguez Hills
Beth Hopkins, Aurora University
Dafina-Lazarus Stewart, Colorado State University
Ramy Abbady, Graduate Student, University of San Francisco
Grace Wojcik
Tonya Hale, Hendrix College
Elle Trusz, University of Maryland, Baltimore County
Dio Aldridge, School of the Art Institute Chicago
Eli Kean, Michigan State University
Alyssa Voyles, DigiPen Institute of Technology
Becky Mohn, University of Minnesota - Twin Cities
Nicki Viso, Humboldt State University
Ben Walter, Yale University
Libia Marqueza Castro, University of Utah
Immanuel Golden, Nova Southeastern University
Grace Eggers, Binghamton University
Elijah Stucki, Oregon state University
Candace Lamb, University of Texas-Austin
Z Nicolazzo, Northern Illinois University
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Courtney Campbell, University of Portland
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Alex Gradine, Humboldt State University
Kristen Hogan, University of Texas at Austin
Luke Lavera, The College of Saint Rose
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Megan Rush, MPH, CHES, University of California Riverside
Brittany Nefcy, Oregon State University
Becky Swem, University of Vermont
Katie Kidwell, MassArt
Katherine Charek Briggs, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Kameron Winters, American University
Cynthia L. Konrad, Oregon State University
Carol Taylor-Shim, University of Kentucky
John Hernandez, Northwest Missouri State University
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Niki Messmore
Tracy Garcia, UC Santa Cruz
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Brian Hamilton, University of Kentucky
Kalyn Stroik, Colorado State University
Lauren Moreno
Liv Parks, Vanderbilt University, LGBTQI Life
Melinda Lee, University of Minnesota - Twin Cities
Emily Erwin
Dayspring Mattole, Reed College
Amissa Miller, University of Texas- Austin
Karyn Dyer
Mary Heu, University Of California, Santa Cruz, Women's Center
Luis H. Garay, Virginia Tech
Shonté Thomas, University of California, Santa Cruz
Jacob Velasquez, UC Santa Cruz
Myra McPhee, Sarah Lawrence College
Julia Golden-Battle, Co-Chair of NASPA's Gender&Sexuality KC
Scarlet Bowen, University of Colorado at Boulder
Bret Koch, College of Charleston
Annie Greaney, Vanderbilt University
Jonathan Gonzales, California Lutheran University
Appy Frykenberg, The Ohio State University
Megan Krone
Dawn R. Johnson, Syracuse University
Kelly Garrett, Brown University
Janet Athanasiou
Sonya Wilmoth, Penn State University
jana clark, Indiana University Bloomington
Constanza Cabello
Jarvis McCowin
Donna Braquet, University of Tennessee
Kelli Campa, Binghamton University
Yvette Lerma Jones, University of Maryland
Dian Squire
Zack Rubinstein, Michigan Tech University
bee coston, Assistant Professor, Gender, Sexuality and Women's Studies VCU
Andy Cofino, Princeton University
Oronne Nwaneri, Cal Poly Pomona University
Jamie Gonzales, University of Houston
Hope Denese Freeman, Tufts University
Adrienne Conley, University of Minnesota Morris
Thomas Walker, University of Denver
Kelsey Murray, Western Oregon University
Noha Elmohands
LeRoy Ford
Daniel Anzueto, NASPA
Patrick J. Hale, Co-Chair Elect, NASPA Gender & Sexuality KC
Maria-Victoria Perez, CalArts
Marcela Ramirez, UC Riverside
Dr. Saby Labor, Resilient Campus
Gabriella Blanchard, University of Utah
Chris Linder, University of Georgia
Lissa Stapleton, California State University Northridge
Benjamin Mendoza, University of California, San Diego
Daniel Tillapaugh, California Lutheran University
Jay Wilson,
Mary L. Bankhead
Michael Akeem Riley, DePaul University
Steve Ross, Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo
Xiong Xy, University of Minnesota
Steve Ross, Membership Chair for Indigenous People Knowledge Committee (NASPA)
David Wright, University of Connecticut
Luz Burgos Lopez, University of Minnesota - Twin Cities
Owen Marciano, Oregon State University
Brandi Douglas, DePaul University
Hannah Retzkin, Chapman University
Michael Gamez, University of Minnesota Twin Cities
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Brian Boughton
Rachael Johnson, Colorado State University
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Matt Nazario-Miller, UC Davis
Joliana Yee, Loyola University Chicago
Jordan Dixon
Tiffany Leschke, Mount Mercy University
Sheltreese McCoy, Radical Higher education Innovations, LLC
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Amber Barnett, Goucher College
Chaz Cruz, Anti-Oppression Educator
Joshua Brown, University of Missouri
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Vigor Lam
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Tolu Taiwo, Pacific Lutheran University
Bre Huizar-Arellano, University of Colorado Boulder
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Minerva Munoz, TRIO Student Support Services, University of Minnesota
Crissi Dalfonzo, University of Maine
Andy DeRoin, GLBT Center, North Carolina State University
Sam Benson, Cornell University
Tiffany Thompson, University of Penn
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Nikki Laird. Henderson State University
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Ginny Jones Boss, Kennesaw State University
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Elizabeth Webb, Texas A&M University-Commerce
Elisabeth M. Beardall, Graduate Student, University of Missouri - Kansas City
Amber Barnett, Goucher College
Christopher A. Nemecek, Virginia Commonwealth University
Timothy Valdez, Adult
Olivia Muñoz, Mills College
Matt Le Brasseur, The Chicago School of Professional Psychology
Parker Chalmers, California State University, Long Beach
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Bill Huff, Georgetown University
Purvi Patel, Washington University in St. Louis
Travis Tucker, Washington University in St. Louis
Betsy Whited, ASU
Isabel Simon, Pomona College
Andrew Erdmann, Georgetown University
Chris Reinhardt, Johns Hopkins University
Robert Hill, Michigan State University
Sydney Epps, Louisiana State University
Kathleen E. Hobson-Bond, University of North Texas
Karissa Longo, Michigan State University
Petey Peterson, Director for the Office of LGBTQA Affairs Wright State University
Jennifer K. Guyett
Lauren Irwin, California Polytechnic State University
Latesha Fussell
Heather Brothers, Michigan State University
Diane Cooper
Darlene Alugbue, California State University, San Bernardino
Jordan Jackson
Tabitha Wiggins, The University of Iowa
Roger Becker, Residence Life Coordinator, UC Irvine
Tyler Hargis, College Access Advisor In RI
Jianna Mader,
Roxie Patton
Jill Pecoraro, Ohio State University / Kent State University
Jordan S. West, Pan African Network Chair
Khalia Ii, University of Southern California
Andrew Perkins, University of Kentucky
Travis Tucker, Washington University in St. Louis
Latesha Fussell, Director of Campus Life for Diversity & Inclusion
Amanda Gilliam
Dolan, UC Santa Barbara
Courtney Jones, Syracuse University
Charlie J. LoGiudice, Wright State University
Cherrish Robinson
Winona LaDuke, Honor the Earth director
Beserat Kelati
Nicholas Taylor, Anoka-Ramsey Community College
Tara Sonali Miller, Reed College, (Pomona College Alum)
Nu'Rodney Prad, Temple University
Monique Atherley
Elicia Epstein, Pomona College Alum
Clare Lemke, Iowa State University
Marygrace Swarts, Sonoma State
Coty Behanna, University of Maryland
Justin Hua, Georgia State University
Saraí Jiménez, Pomona College '14
Kristen Reynolds, Oberlin College
M. Vitek
Matthew Blankers
Amber Barnett
Margy Frazier
Bri Serrano, NASPA Gender and Sexiality KC & Latinx/a/o KC Latinx Inclusion Co-Chair, Consortium of Higher Education: LGBT Resource Professionals People of Color Co-Chair
Valerie lopez
Curtis Kimberlin, University of North Texas
Staci D. Gunner, Stanford University/San José State University
Victoria Dickman-Burnett, Graduate Student, Education and Community-Based Action Research, University of Cincinnati
Alfonso Ruiz
Travis S. Becker, Director, Lionel Cantú Queer Resource Center
Julie A. Gorman
Phoenicia Herring, University of Southern California
Allie Triglianos, Arizona State University
Desiré Campusano, Outreach Specialist, Adult Education- GWC community college
Kevin Pajaro, Michigan State University
Stephanie Blair
Derron Borders, Cornell University
Tara Partow, Scripps College '17
Elijah Balogh, Michigan State University
Anthony Ungaro
Sonia Fang, Pomona College '08
Ashley DesLauriers, California Lutheran University
Alexander Rudy, Pomona College ‘11
Ignacio Alarcón, The Evergreen State College
Tommy Fenster, Pomona College ‘11
Carlton Smith
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Taylor Briggs, Graduate Student, Seattle University
Justin Muzzi, Fordham University
Joshua Guffey
Maya Ixel Cardenas
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Roman Christiaens
Tim Maggio, Shepherd University
Veratta Pegram-Floyd, Seattle University, SDA '13
Saida Bonifield, University of Kansas
Beth Little, Northwest Missouri State University
Colleen Sonnentag
Laura Casaregola, Scripps College
Sonya Satinsky, Princeton University
Tyler Treptow-Bowman, North Hennepin Community College
Irene Toro Martínez, UW-Madison (doctoral candidate), Pomona College '09
Abby Fite, Syracuse University
Tiffany Gray, In Solidarity
Mitchell Holston, Colorado State University
Liliana Delman, Colorado College
Chris Tanaka
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Connie North, CU Boulder
Katherine Scarritt, Pitzer College graduate
Xenia Rangaswami, Scripps College
Heather Johnson, San Bernardino Valley College
Dillon Dong, Pomona College '15
Nike Roman, Scripps College '16
Sarah Keene, University of Minnesota
karla m. zabaleta hinojosa, University of California San Diego
Laura Kent, Scripps College, Former student staff member at the Queer Resource Center
Jessica Rahim, Community College of Allegheny County
Nancy Jean Tubbs, UC Riverside
Efe Kabba, Pomona College '13
Haley Gibbs, Scripps College
Chrysanthe Oltmann,
Benjamin Pollard, University of Colorado Boulder, Pomona College '11
Tevin Noel, PRCC
Rachel Weber, Tulane University
Trina Tan
Justin Toliver, Ball State University
Ethan Grossmab
Rosalie McGurk, Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Carnegie Observatory
Evan Friedenberg, Scripps College
Claudia Hernandez, Scripps College
Sophie Wolbert, Scripps College
Taylor Silvestri, Binghamton University
Aaron Parayno
Dimitri R. Dounas-Frazer, University of Colorado Boulder
Joan Gabriele, University of Colorado
Shauna Mulvihill, Pomona College '91
Heather Johnson, San Bernardino Valley College
Jordan Howard-Jennings, BLAM (Black Lives at Mudd) Co-President, Harvey Mudd College '19
Bri Berrios, Pomona College
Liat Kaplan, Claremont McKenna College '17
Heather Johnson, San Bernardino Valley College
Cesar Orellana, HMC '17
Amy Oden, Pomona College
Casey Dworzynski, Iowa state university
Kaity Prieto, The Ohio State University
Carmen Abbe, Scripps College ‘18
Leya Solomon, Pomona College
Ekram Jiru, Pomona College
Guneet Kaur, Scripps College
Devin Mercier, Pomona College
Jennifer Murray
Julia Karpicz
Sarah Kinicki, Pomona College '12
Raja G Bhattar
Britany (BCash) Cashatt, Syracuse University
Keith D. Garcia, University of Minnesota
Roberto Orozco
Crystal Hamilton
Jenna Swartz, University of Wisconsin - Madison
Jay MacDuffie
Ian Morrow
Ronak Bhatia, Harvey Mudd College
Ijeoma Nwaogu
Hillary Montague-Asp, UMass Amherst
Jules Pashall, Pitzer Alum 2012, California Institute of Integral Studies
Cody Newman, Harvey Mudd College
Steph Kaneen, CSU-Northridge
Wanda Tyler
Matt Soto, California State University, Northridge
Arnold Lane, Clemson University
Aaron Marcuse-Kubitza, Harvey Mudd College
Bradley Brooks
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Cleda Wang
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Matt Banks
Demetrius Gary
Melissa Bader, University of Delaware
Megan Hurley, Misericordia University
Jen Fry, Duke University
Russell Morrow, Ohio State University
Jessica Migler
Britt Hudson, University of Northern Iowa
Gardy Guiteau, Rowan University
Tifaney Millwood, Kennesaw State University
Relius Johnson, University of Central Arkansas
M. McFadden
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