In an email from Professors Gaston Espinosa and Dan Livesay relayed through Dean Dianna Graves, Claremont McKenna College (CMC) students learned that faculty are debating a proposal to “revise the College’s General Education (GE) requirements for future students that would include a ‘Racial-Ethnic Understanding’ component.” The new curriculum would focus on racism and the social construct of race. The professors explained that “[i]n its current form, the proposal allows for this course to be an ‘overlay’ – meaning that it could also count toward another GE requirement, and therefore not automatically adding an additional course to the GE.” An online Zoom meeting will be held on Tuesday, February 9 from 5:00-6:30 pm PST for the faculty to hear student feedback about the proposed GE.
The push for this new requirement comes several months after the announcement of CMC’s Presidential Initiative on Anti-Racism and the Black Experience. The initiative was a “response to the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer and the persistent patterns of anti-Black racism.” The initiative requires all academic departments to “change any practices, policies and protocols which do not fully support the anti-racist campus environment we aspire to achieve” and established that professors will be judged on their “leadership in developing anti–racism pedagogy.” In addition, staff will be forced to attend “annual experiential learning workshops…[for combatting] racism.”
Similar policies have been implemented across the Claremont Consortium. This fall, the Honnold-Mudd Library released a statement on the summer’s #BlackLivesMatter protests, stating that “BIPOC [Black and Indigenous People of Color] faculty, students, and staff are focused on what they can do to support their own communities; they are not accountable to White people on the campuses who often show up only in times of crisis.” The library’s statement included a list of anti-racist and Black Lives Matter resources “to educate the community on issues surrounding the Black Lives Matter movement and protests. These issues include topics such as anti-racism, systemic racism, systemic oppression, police brutality, mass incarceration.” Alongside this list, the library posted a link to #BlackLivesMatter’s official website.
In June, Harvey Mudd College, another member of the consortium, was pressured by students to release a statement explicitly stating that “Black Lives Matter” following an initial email from President Maria Klawe that made no reference to Black lives.
Currently, CMC students need to complete at least 11 GEs. These include a freshman writing seminar, a freshman humanities seminar, a math or computer science course, a lab science, a third-semester foreign language course (or place out), and complete a senior thesis. Students must also take courses in three of the four social sciences and two of the four humanities disciplines offered by CMC.