Prof to admit students into geology class based on race
A geology professor at Pomona College says she will prioritize students of color, immigrants, and low-income students for enrollment in a class with a strict 15-student cap.
A flyer advertising the course on “Southern California Earthquakes and Water,” an introductory geological science class with a particular focus on “the particular geologic challenges” of Southern California, expresses a particular desire for “students from a range of backgrounds whose varied perspectives will contribute to the course.”
Unlike most Pomona classes, the course is offered on a permission-only basis, which means that students must submit a written request—colloquially called a “PERM”—to the professor seeking “permission to enroll.” The professor sees all of these requests and may choose among them to fill his or her course.
Typically, professors treat PERMs as a waitlist, selecting students in the order in which they submitted their PERM requests. To the extent that preferential treatment is exercised, it is typically used to ensure that students majoring in a particular field of study are able to enroll in courses for their major ahead of others, who may simply be taking them to fulfill general education requirements.
Dr. Linda Reinen, who will teach the earthquakes course this fall, plans to use her approval authority to prefer students from marginalized backgrounds, such as non-whites and low-income students, whom she believes will derive “particular benefit” from a smaller and less competitive course.
“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 states in the flyer.
“In resolving PERMs I will strive to identify students for whom the small-section setting has the potential to be of particular benefit,” she adds, stressing that “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” [emphasis in original].
The circular does not explain how preferential approval on the basis of race, income, national origin, or age might provide a tangible benefit in a course on geological science or why the students she mentions would stand to benefit more from a small-section class than other students.
Reinen did not respond to the Independent’s requests for comment.
This article was originally published in The Claremont Independent, a conservative student newspaper affiliated with the Leadership Institute's Campus Leadership Program. Its articles are republished here with permission.
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