Students at Reed College are protesting a required humanities class for freshmen that focuses on texts from the great thinkers of ancient Greece and Rome, saying that “forcing students to take a mandatory Western Civilization course is really harmful.”
The self-named “Reedies Against Racism” student protest group began their efforts against “Humanities 110 – Introduction to Humanities: Greece and the Ancient Mediterranean” last September, claiming the class should be “reformed to represent the voices of people of color” in a list of 25 demands.
The protest continued this school year, as students interrupted the lecture, got in screaming matches with students, boycotted classes, and vowed to have silent protests during every lecture. The student activists have also brought in mental healthcare advocates for students who have reported having “panic attacks” due to the course material.
“The course in its current iteration draws from predominantly white authors and relies heavily on the notion that Western customs are the most civilized because they are derived from those of ancient Greeks and Romans who are considered the inventors of civilization,” Alex Boyd, a main Reedies Against Racism organizer, told The College Fix via Facebook recently.
“If Hum 110 were an elective course that would be fine, but forcing students to take a mandatory Western Civilization course is really harmful,” she added.
Kevin Myers, a Reed College spokesman, told The College Fix the course is much broader than that, noting it’s focused on texts from the ancient world that include Greece and Rome as well as Mesopotamia and Egypt.
“The goal of the class is to teach college level work like understanding primary sources from secondary sources, critically approaching texts through the various academic disciplines, and becoming an effective writer,” he said.
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