CMC alumni are actively committed to robust student support and their individual experiences make them vital participants in The Initiative. United in their enthusiasm to ensure that all voices are represented and that every member of our community can take full advantage of the CMC experience, our Alumni Steering Committee members are asking difficult questions and seeking answers together.
What are you hoping to offer the Presidential Initiative on Anti-Racism?
Timothy Wright ’77: I felt it was important to assist in this courageous and important initiative instituted by President Chodosh. This was particularly so given my own race and ethnicity as an African American, and my present ability to speak to what I experienced as a student at Claremont during that time, and my experience with the changing landscape of race relations in America today.
Camille Griep ’99: The broader CMC community alumni, parents, trustees, faculty, and staff must actively support the ongoing groundwork to ensure CMC is not only fostering leaders in the making, but welcoming the best and the brightest and ensuring every student benefits from the broad CMC experience, beyond academics and into the wider world. I wanted to support this continued effort to unite in actively engendering an anti-racist campus to continue CMC’s legacy of excellence.
Bradley Pine ’85 P’21: I can’t think of anything more important than to actively and purposefully take steps to stop racism and begin to diminish its deleterious impacts on our school and our society. I am also certain that many of the issues that ail CMC (e.g., very few Black faculty and students; and a lack of knowledge among CMCers about the negative experiences of our Black students, alums, and faculty/staff) can be resolved if we are honest in identifying them, and specific, active, and timely in making changes to eliminate them. I want to work with fellow alums to push the school and the CMC community to assertively, affirmatively, and honestly move forward to stop the racism that leads to negative experiences for our Black classmates. And make our school a better place.
Does anything personal about your CMC experience resonate with its goals?
Antoine Grant ’07: CMC is full of critical thinkers, people that love “solutioning.” I was lucky enough to spend two years in constant debate with my PPE cohort, and our sessions brought me back to those days — a group of people in search of an answer, a group unafraid to question. It was a refreshingly authentic CMC exercise and reminded me of late nights in the quad, lunches at Collins, and talks at the Ath. The thoughtfulness and mutual respect were inspiring and re-ignited my love for the school.
Carrie George ’80: As one of 37 women out of 800 students arriving on campus when I was a freshman in 1976, two things stand out. First, while most of my experiences at CMC were incredibly positive we were celebrated more than disrespected I also experienced plenty of what we would now call microaggressions. Please note that I don’t begin to compare what I experienced to the constant drip, drip, drip of bias, intentional or otherwise, that most Black people experience over a lifetime. However, when it happened, it stung and was uncomfortable and it was most uncomfortable when the men I was with didn’t recognize it. So I feel as though I have at least a little insight into that feeling.
Griep: When I arrived at CMC, a first-generation student from an extremely non-diverse part of the country, I benefited from the grace of other students who were generous enough to share their perspectives from their own cultural viewpoints. But students of color cannot be expected to continue to shoulder that responsibility. To ensure all students are welcomed into the greater CMC experience beyond academics and into the lasting framework so many of us are proud to be a part of those of us who deeply care about CMC must take on the duty of educating ourselves to re-structure the narratives that have omitted or actively neglected students of diverse backgrounds.
What is your advice to students or alumni who want to become more engaged and feel more empowered?
Grant: Do or do not. There is no try. There are plenty of areas to plug in. There is plenty of whitespace to create and have impact. To start, get involved in the activities designed for alumni. Over the years, I have joined a few talks and a few happy hours, which kept me loosely informed and connected. When ready, reach out to the Alumni Association and discuss your desire to get involved.
Wright: I say: Get involved, it’s good therapy! I believe CMC to be one of my most impactful experiences ever, but until I became re-involved with the school, the CMC experience was muted, subsumed somewhere in the back of my mind, not existing as a meaningful experience because of some of my more dark moments whilst there. But involvement is not just about the past. CMC has evolved into a very enlightened institution that values freedom of ideas and the challenges of examining a better us in this country. I believe that President Chodosh has challenged us to imagine a world where racial and economic justice prevails and a campus that allows for the intellectual curiosity to achieve that which some believe to be unachievable, and the courage to pursue it.
To be empowered we must participate in the empowerment of America. Today, America can be likened to an eight-cylinder Chrysler riding around on three working cylinders. We need to figure out how to get fuel to those other five diverse cylinders so as to achieve full power.