CMC Report Calls for Increase in Diversity

The Campus Climate Task Force (CCTF) recommended in its 2011-2012 report that Claremont McKenna College improve its diversity in four areas: socioeconomic, ethnicity/race, gender, and sexual orientation.

Using data from admissions, the report emphasizes the fact that, from 2007-2011, African-American representation has dropped in both student and faculty to 3.3 percent and 2.4 percent, respectfully. The report also signals an almost 33 percent decrease in the Latino student body, while the Latino faculty rate dropped to 2.4 percent. In terms of gender, the data indicate that female faculty rates have remained the same at around 27 percent, which differs significantly from the about 42 percent national female faculty representation for private liberal arts colleges.

The CCTF released its report to all CMC students, faculty, and staff via e-mail April 8. The report looked at campus climate with a particular emphasis on diversity and recommendations that could enhance diversity initiatives and campus climate and inclusivity across the community.

The yearlong initiative was started by CMC President Pamela Gann and co-chaired by Vice President for Student Affairs, Admission, and Financial Aid Jeff Huang and Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculty Gregory Hess. The CCTF was composed of 15 students, faculty, and staff who met over the course of the 2011-2012 academic year.

CCTF member and CMC Director of Academic Planning Dianna Graves said that the task force was assembled because “the diversity committee had some concern that action was not keeping pace with the conversations that were being held around campus.”

“We needed more voice in the concept of campus climate and inclusivity in two different ways: to address the composition of the people at CMC and to address the experiences of the people at CMC,” Graves said.

Referring to the consequences that come from from a lack of diversity at the school, Graves said, “the biggest impact is that it scapegoats responsibilities onto other groups all the time instead of suggesting that everyone is responsible of upholding a safe and inclusive campus environment.”

To solve some of these issues, the report presents an array of recommendations that are both meant to address the problem at an administrative level while also providing a new campus environment. Some of the recommendations include the establishment of an endowed professorship for a prominent scholar who incorporates race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or gender studies in research and teaching; the continued support for the limited implementation of gender-neutral housing and restrooms; and bringing speakers to campus who reflect racial and ethnic diversity.

“This is exactly in line with our mission—to educate and to be a part of global leadership, which we cannot do in a diversity-lacking environment,” Graves said.

Graves said that she is enthusiastic that these recommendations will be implemented in the near future.

“We have students, faculty, and staff in place that are very committed to this and are empowered to make significant progress for the institution,” she said.

Jessica Yao CM ’12, a member of the CCTF, said that although there have been positive changes, more needs to be done.

“I saw a significant change in diversity since my freshman year, especially within the LGBT community. I had a lot of friends who weren’t comfortable at all at CMC, but much of that changed by the time I was a senior. However, I still don’t think CMC is where it needs to be,” she said.

Meagan Biwer CM ’12 was also part of the task force. She said she found the association between masculinity and aggressiveness to be especially troubling.

“A lot of people misunderstand CMC culture. They see its overtly aggressive student body as masculine and even patriarchal. As an aggressive female, however, I think that equating aggression with masculinity is erroneous. Arguing for female empowerment by claiming that our campus is too masculine in its aggressiveness is kind of self-defeating,” Biwer said.

When asked about CMC’s diversity, Nadeem Farooqi CM ’15 said that there is not a “dire need” to increase it.

“I think there’s a lot of ethnic and cultural diversity. Just in my friend group, there’s someone from Korea, Taiwan, the Valley, Washington, Hawaii, and they’re all different races,” Farooqi said. “In and out of class I see a lot of different people from different backgrounds, whether they’re from India or Indian from Rancho Cucamonga.”

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