A geology professor at Pomona College admits students to her “Southern California Earthquakes and Water” course through a blanket of racial and socio-economical discriminations.
Professor Linda Reinen’s flyer introduces her class as a unique and intriguing hands-on exploration into the tectonic and hydrologic challenges faced in California. It then lowers the hammer of discrimination against white, middle-class students, specifying her racial and income level preference on how she accepts students for enrollment.
The geology course fills seats on a permission-only basis, which means students must submit a PERM request (permission to enroll) to the course instructor and wait to see if they get added to the class. A professor generally gives preference to majors of that discipline, and accepts the remainder of students to fill the class in the order PERMs were submitted. In essence, those students taking the class as part of their general education requirements are put on a waitlist and accepted only at the instructor’s discretion.
This fall semester, Reinen will give preferential treatment to geology majors and then wield her authority to racially discriminate and admit students based on whether they’re from marginalized backgrounds, such as non-Whites and low-income students, who 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 writes. “In resolving PERMs, I will strive to identify students for whom the small-section setting has the potential to be of particular benefit. 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.”
Reinen does not articulate how discriminatory approval on the basis of race, income, national origin, or age might provide a palpable benefit in a course on geological science or why these students might benefit more from a small class than other students.