Princeton drops Greek and Latin requirement for Classics majors

Princeton drops Greek and Latin requirement for Classics majors. By Paul Mirengoff.

Using race-based preferences to admit students with qualifications vastly inferior to those admitted without the need for such preferences creates all sorts of problems and dislocations. One of them is the erosion of standards within various departments, especially ones that teach hard stuff. …

Now comes word … that Classics majors at Princeton University will no longer be required to learn Greek or Latin. An intermediate proficiency in Greek or Latin won’t be required to enter the concentration and the requirement that students to take Greek or Latin will also be dropped. …

Why? What’s the point in studying classics if you cannot read them or understand what they are saying?

Josh Billings, director of undergraduate studies and professor of classics, claims that having students who don’t know Latin and Greek in the department “will make it a more vibrant intellectual community.” It will do so, allegedly, by “ensur[ing] that a broad range of perspectives and experiences inform our study of the ancient Greek and Roman past.”

What is the Black perspective, if any, on ancient Greece and Rome? That the Greeks and Romans were white supremacists? I doubt that this perspective is (1) relevant to studying the classics and (2) absent from the department as currently constituted. Indeed, as discussed below, Princeton’s classics department is already obsessed with “systemic racism.” …

I suspect that to the extent Princeton’s relaxation of requirements attracts new students who don’t know Greek or Latin, these students won’t find it fulfilling to be in a department populated with actual scholars of Greek and Latin. They will probably take their “vibrancy” elsewhere.

It seems clear from Bernstein’s account that Princeton’s decision isn’t about vibrancy and fresh perspectives. It’s about feelings of guilt and the desire for atonement.

The Department states: …

We condemn and reject in the strongest possible terms the racism that has made our department and our field inhospitable to Black and non-Black scholars of color, and we affirm that Black Lives Matter.

Okay. But how is it racist to require Classics majors to know Greek and Latin?

It isn’t. If anything, it seems racist to assume that Blacks need to be excused from learning Latin and Greek. If they are serious about Classics, why wouldn’t they learn the languages?

Like all these recent moves to lower requirements, it’s an implicit acknowledgement that black intellectual averages are significantly lower. Decades of trying to raise those averages in the US failed, so in the interest of equity everything has to be dumbed down to their level.

The Chinese must be shaking their heads in wonder, in between bouts of laughter.

hat-tip Stephen Neil