The Claremont Independent is: “too conservative,” “too libertarian,” “too controversial,” “not controversial enough.” Over the past year, we have heard it all.
When we joined the CI as staff writers some three years ago, we started a discussion about what we planned for the future of the publication. We wanted it to become more like us, i.e. classically liberal.
Thankfully, the CI has become something else entirely. Instead, it has served as a forum for discussion, a reserve of dissent, and a source of original reporting. With intellectual diversity at the Claremont Colleges so lacking and dissent from mainstream, left-wing views discouraged, it is essential that someone introduce the student body to a diverse array of different perspectives (especially those that are never heard of or ignored). Many know us as the “conservative” magazine; however, we see the CI as an entity that supports a free exchange of ideas for those willing to engage in the process. We have aimed to provide an intellectual space for those interested in pursuing the purpose of a liberal arts education, which is to prepare students for making the most of their time on earth through some combination of thinking and doing. We believe that the intellectual development of individuals and society occurs more through debate and discussion, rather than “safe spaces” and intellectual homogeneity. In other words, the CI has attempted to burst the Claremont “bubble” this past school year.
After the events of this year, it is safe to say that we have succeeded. We broke the story that George Will was disinvited from a speaking engagement at Scripps College. This original piece prompted a statement from the Scripps College President calling sexual assault an issue “too important to be trivialized in a political debate,” an editorial from us, one from the Scripps Voice, and a response to the Voice’s editorial. We published an opinion piece opposed to Plan B vending machines at Pomona College, which produced a series of responses varying from the less to more thoughtful (when the Voice published a similar piece two years ago it generated nary a gasp). In a move that showcased the variety of opinions in our staff, we also released piece that gave a free-market argument in favor of the vending machine. We exposed the rotten core of Scripps’s Core I, infiltrated Claremont’s Fight Club, discovered that CMC might as well rebrand itself as a School of Economics in a few years, and exposed issues in the appointment process for the Athenaeum’s new director. One of our current associate editors, who comfortably sits on the left, bemoaned the state of the campus progressivism in what became our most successful article of the year. And, as either the ultimate sign of our success or of their desperation, the Golden Antlers wrote way too many articles about us.
This year, we also saw our staff expand to over 30 people, with members from all five colleges (yes, even Pitzer). Web traffic to the CI site more than quadrupled year-over-year. Several articles were given national attention, being featured in the likes of National Review, Newsweek, and the Washington Post.
We are happy that, considering how few conservative, libertarian, classically liberal, and centrist students there are in Claremont, we inspired and engaged in some real debates that would not have occurred otherwise. At the very least, we helped provide space for those who want to debate and to grow intellectually.
Next year, expect a stronger, smarter, more engaged CI. With Hannah Oh as Editor-in-Chief and Steven Glick as Publisher, we are confident that the magazine will grow and mature into a more professional and permanent fixture of the Claremont Colleges.