Thinking of majoring in Classics at Princeton University? If so, know that the requirements for the major changed this past May — and not without some controversy. You see, the Greek and Latin requirements for the major have been dropped. Previously, students were required to be proficient in these languages to major in the discipline but no more! It seems that the requirements were removed because of a debate over institutional racism. That’s right. The school that scrubbed Woodrow Wilson’s name from its public policy school and one of its residential colleges because of the former President of the United States’ racist ties is also removing language requirements from its Classics major.
As Tasos Kokkinidis reports for Greek Reporter in a piece entitled “Removal of Greek, Latin at Princeton Sparks Debate on Classics in the US,” “In recent months have seen a resurgence of an old debate over the merits of studying the classics, and the humanities more broadly. The discussion is largely in response to an early February New York Times Magazine profile of Dan-el Padilla Peralta, an immigrant from the Dominican Republic who is now a professor of classics at Princeton University — and who believes that the classical tradition is inextricably bound up with white supremacy and that his discipline, as presently constituted, may not deserve a future. Josh Billings, the director of undergraduate studies and professor of classics at Princeton said the changes ultimately give students more opportunities to major in classics. ‘We think that having new perspectives in the field will make the field better,’ he said. ‘Having people who come in who might not have studied Classics in high school and might not have had a previous exposure to Greek and Latin, we think that having those students in the department will make it a more vibrant intellectual community.’ Speaking recently to Greek Reporter, Katherine Elizabeth Fleming, the Provost of New York University, said that Princeton’s decision is partly due to the desire to make Classics more accessible to students.”
Where do our readers stand on Princeton University‘s decision to eliminate Greek and Latin language requirements for its Classics major? Will this make the major more accessible? Was this a necessary change? Are the Classics “inextricably bound up with white supremacy” as the Princeton professor suggests? Let us know your thoughts on the subject by posting below. We look forward to hearing from you, whether you know your declensions or not.
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