By Megan Keller ’18
Iended up in my first CMC class only because I had almost the worst course registration slot a freshman could. I was a first-year at Scripps, and in a panic to fill one of my GEs found a seat in a CMC class called The Logic of War.
When I got there, I was grateful I had chosen it. I had somehow stumbled into a place where the people around me - the professor and the students - cared more about our human relationships and seeking the truth than ideological orthodoxy. I could express my opinions and dispute those I didn't agree with, regardless whether I was in agreement with what most people in my class or on campus thought. So that semester I applied to transfer to CMC and by the next fall I was enrolled.
My initial impression of CMC has held true for the most part. There have been times when CMC has been shaken by controversies related to free-speech, but each time I the majority of CMCers acted like the people in my first class. The most recent occurred last fall, when a crowd blocked access to the Athenaeum. Though most CMCers I know disagreed with Heather MacDonald's stance on American police and Black Lives Matter, they wanted to debate her, not her presence. And I think this was reflected in the fact that the crowd itself was composed largely of non-CMCers.
CMC does not perfectly protect ideological diversity. I have my disagreements with how the administration does some things and I spend a fair amount of time at the Claremont Independent criticizing them along with the other four Claremont Colleges. But CMC stills seems uniquely free-speech oriented to me, particularly for a liberal arts college.
After the Heather MacDonald incident, one of my friends told me he was frustrated that people outside of the Claremont Colleges would not understand that it had been mainly those from outside of CMC imposing on our culture of free expression. I would take his argument still further. The reason there could be a protest of Heather MacDonald was that CMC hosted her in the first place. We experience outbursts of anti-free speech hostility because, we actually prize intellectual diversity.
CMC stands out for trying to defend my right to say and think what I like. It's worth noting that I'm not the only one who says this. CMC still has more diversity of thought than our peers and is the number one liberal arts college in the Heterodox Academy's ranking.
Which is why, though I criticize its failings, I'm very proud to be part of CMC. It was a refuge for me when I could not easily speak my mind and it still is.