By Bill Korach www.thereportcard.org
At Reed College, a mandatory freshman literature course focused on the works of great thinkers underpinning Western Civilization has come under fire from campus activists, who allege the mandate is systemically racist because the class only assigns the works of white authors and therefore perpetuates white privilege and racism.
Fewer and fewer colleges today offer Western Civilization courses, but historically they were a staple at all colleges. The course in question Humanities 110, “Greece and the Ancient Mediterranean,” an introduction to the works of celebrated Greco-Roman thinkers such as Aristotle, Plato, Epictetus and Ovid. An understanding of these philosophers as a key element in Western Civilization has always been considered a sine qua non for understanding America’s heritage of liberty.
Behind this effort are group of students calling themselves Reedies Against Racism who want curriculum changed. In their words, it must be “reformed to represent the voices of people of color.” Last fall they launched frequent protests against the class — an effort that continued through spring semester and prompted scholars to now consider revising the course.
Now, however, Reed’s administration is considering bowing to the wishes of “Reedies against racism.” “The current humanities course focuses on the Classical world in its ancient Mediterranean context; this has not always been the case and the faculty differ on how important they think this focus is to the course,” Reed spokesman Kevin Myers said via email, noting faculty make all curricular decisions.
“Among other questions, the review will consider the focus for the next iteration of the course. Regardless of its content, the main emphasis of the humanities course is for students to develop the skills that will help them succeed in their classes at Reed and their lives after graduation,” Myers stated.
What a load of blather. What the students will learn is how to say absolutely nothing of consequence with a maxim of words.
Reedies Against Racism is another iteration of a nationwide movement among student activists calling for greater ethnic and racial diversity on college campuses, and for special accommodations for students of color.
The group’s 25 demands, which can be found on their website, include a staff-maintained Black Student Union, and more black counselors at the Reed health center. When it comes to Humanities 110, they declare it should be “reformed to represent the voices of people of color.”
“Lecturers should structure delivery and analysis of content that is sensitive to and proactive for inclusive practices. There should be an articulated understanding that ‘foundational texts’ are subjective and that the importance of the course is to foster student’s abilities to read, write, and listen/respond,” the demand continues. “Before this is accomplished, Hum 110 should be conscious of the power it gives to already privileged ideas and welcome critique of that use of power. This could be done by 1) allowing alternative readings that critique texts on the current syllabus, 2) making Hum 110 non-mandatory until reform happens or 3) alternate options for Hum lecture.”
So, now kids families get to pay $50,000 per year to tell the colleges what to teach. That is not a strong reason to go to college.