Initial thought on RuPaul Charles: It could have been worse.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
attended the student debate last night and have to say that I was a bit disappointed with what I heard.
In part, this was brought about by the rather distracting text message board placed up on the projection screen in the back room, which I confess to having had some (but not nearly enough) fun distorting for the sake of a few cheap laughs. But even was I was able to pay attention to the speakers, I wasn’t hearing what would have made the discussion worthwhile.
In such debates, I find it instructive to ground our understanding of what CMC is in its history. What did President George C. S. Benson have to say on the matter of what kind of college Claremont McKenna should be? Here I direct you once again to his masterful assessment presented in a speech entitled, “How Pink Are Our Colleges”? I recommend the reading as it is pretty clear that Benson did not see a distinction between teaching “practical affairs” and the liberal arts. Instead, this division, constantly cultivated, produced solid and effective custodians of the American system. “We are going to see that the graduates of one college in the country have a clear-cut conception of the values of American economic heritage,” Benson told Colonel J. G. Boswell.
And he saw the liberal arts widely enough to encompass Peter Drucker, a healthy appreciation for the American founding, Lincoln, Goethe, Tocqueville, and others as encouraging a kind of liberalization of American business elites. Most of Claremont’s graduates he reasoned would be men of “public affairs” or businessmen and so familiarity with these great thinkers would serve to both enrich their lives and form the basis for the corporations or polities that the graduates would one day lead. It was leadership, as we are found of saying, but it had a direction and a purpose: namely, the preservation of the American way of life — a way of life that was accessible to all peoples.
But at the same time that Benson stressed the virtues of the Declaration of Independence and individualism, he fought for a professor of real estate and counseled students to take accounting — a required course. So the technical balanced appropriately the liberal arts.
If there is any problem with our current existence of Claremont McKenna, it is that much violence has been done to this harmony between both the technical and the humanities. The reason so many majored in both government and economics (or accounting) was that practical and ethereal could and indeed, should exist in one man’s mind, operating simultaneously.
In our present times, many fear that the financial tail of $200 million dollars will wag the liberal arts dog. But this reaction is terribly shortsighted. Claremont ought to be grateful that its alums — many of whom are in finance — feel compelled to generosity to their alma mater. It is doubtful that the rather posh lifestyles of academics could long endure were it not for that benevolence.
Instead, I encourage my friends in the humanities department to dig deep in the history of the college and find some kind of accommodation between the liberal arts and finance side the college. And I encourage my friends in the finance department to make a more substantive argument in favor of why finance and management ought to be properly understood as a liberal art.
Otherwise our current problem seems intractable. This hitherto approach of balancing the practical with the mental is frayed. It is that both of them have gotten too out of whack.
I've decided to get a tattoo. Call it a quarter-life crisis, call it youthful rebellion, or whatever, but I am more or less convinced that I have to do it. Don't worry, it'll be tasteful. But I don't want to spoil what it is before I get it.
I know that this isn't exactly a Claremont connection, but I figured I might make it one by asking my fellow Claremont students and alums if they know of any local parlors that offer reasonable price and safety. (Read: I don't want HIV/AIDs.)
Yes, this means I won't be able to donate blood anytime soon. But hey, I can live with that.