Claremont McKenna College was once deliberately out of step with academic fashion. I used to tell prospective students and their parents, liberal or conservative, that one of the best things about CMC was that it refused to enforce the little catechism of political correctness. Regardless of political beliefs on campus, I assured them, students did not have to worry about speaking up in class or being persecuted for their opinions.
That is now very much in doubt. Last week the turmoil stirred at Yale and the University of Missouri swept my campus. A coalition of self-proclaimed “marginalized” students presented a catalog of “microaggressions” they had suffered, demanding new forms of “institutional support” in compensation. Demonstrators, who included both CMC undergrads and a few unfamiliar, skulking adults, denounced the dean of students and humiliated her in an open-air trial. Two students went on a hunger strike. Within days, Claremont McKenna—a place I have been proud to call my employer for more than three decades—surrendered ignominiously. How and why did it happen?