Education

Whites Need Not Apply For Geology Class At Pomona

Reuters

David Krayden Ottawa Bureau Chief

Enrollment is tight for professor Linda Reinen’s geology class at Pomona College.

So you had better be the right race or a member of some other perceived disadvanged group if you expect to make the grade.

Reinen plans to use a racial preference system to decide who gets to take a fall course that she will be teaching, Campus Reform reports, based on a story first reported in the Claremont Independent. She’s going to rank students on the basis of their colour, whether they’re immigrants or if they come from low-income families.

The course is entitled “Southern California Earthquakes and Water” and is a beginner geology class that looks at “the particular geologic challenges” of living in Southern California.  Although the course has nothing to do with racial politics or even social science, Reinen wants “students from a range of backgrounds whose varied perspectives will contribute to this course.”

Students can’t just apply to “contribute” either; they have to request to do so in writing and ask for “permission” to enroll. The professor then goes through the submissions and assesses whom she wishes to invite to attend her class.

Usually a by-permission, or PERM, course is filled on a first come, first serve basis. If students ask early, they will probably be included in final roster. Any degree of favoritism might surface in a professor weighting priority to students who need the course as a prerequisite for another class or require it for graduation.

But Reinen has taken the process beyond that and decided to create a small political earthquake surrounding her course about real earthquakes. She plans to fill the course with students from “marginalized” backgrounds, such as students “of colour” and low-income students. Whites need not apply. She believes the “disenfranchised” will gain a “particular benefit” from experiencing learning with a smaller and less intense group of students.

“I encourage students who PERM this course to indicate how their background, experience, and/or interests could contribute to diversifying perspectives in the course,” she instructs students interested in her course.

“In resolving PERMs I will strive to identify students for whom the small-section setting has the potential to be of particular benefit,” she says, meaning “I am especially interested in seeing PERM requests from students of color, first generation or low-income students, international, and students early in their college career (first two years); such students are especially encouraged to apply.”

Reinen makes no attempt to explain why only non-whites will particularly benefit from her course, why she seems to think they thrive in a small-class setting, or what her course on earthquakes has to with fostering a racial divide at the college.

Follow David on Twitter