At the urging of a fellow Journal staffer, I’ve decided to share my theory that the Claremont College Consortium parallels the European Union, despite the high likelihood that this sort of musing interests only EU policy wonks, such as myself, and members of the Claremont Colleges.
The Consortium is an aggregation of five undergraduate liberal arts colleges (and two graduate institutions, but we’ll leave them aside). Each college has a distinct student body which carries its own student ID, just as EU citizens carry the passport of their respective countries. Claremont students are able to travel freely between campuses to take classes, attend social events, and even work. This is exactly like the Schengen Agreement which allows for the free movement of goods and labor across EU borders.
While each college has its own administration, the Consortium as a whole is governed by an executive body called the Board of Overseers. This acts as a sort of combination of the Council of Ministers, which is composed of the various EU heads of state, and the European Commission, which carries out most EU legislation.
Like the EU, the Consortium even has its own currency. Claremont Cash is accepted at all Claremont dining halls, eateries, and stores. And just as the Euro is an accepted currency in several European nations which are not formally part of the Eurozone, Claremont Cash is accepted at a number of establishments which are not affiliated with the colleges.
So which college represents which country? Pomona is probably France. They are, after all, the oldest Claremont College. They also carry a stereotype of elitism which, deserved or not, is rather comparable to the classic French image. Their student body is generally quite liberal and is known for organizing labor unions and strikes on campus. Very French indeed.
Claremont McKenna is by far the most politically conservative of the colleges. They are undoubtedly the United Kingdom. They generally appear to distrust the continued integration of the colleges. Moreover, their student senate has recently been accused of stinginess with regards to college-wide social and club funding, mirroring the controversy in Britain right now over an increase in the European budget.
It is tempting to label Scripps, the woman’s college with its classically Mediterranean architecture, as Italy or Greece, but the comparison is only superficial. Instead, they are more suited for Sweden, a country which has made immense strides in sexual equality. In fact, 46% of Sweden’s parliament is comprised of women.
Harvey Mudd with its emphasis on math and engineering and its campus which sacrifices aesthetics for functionality is certainly Germany. That, and their voluminous consumption of beer. There is also something to be said for the their founding in 1950s as German industrial resurgence was beginning to get under way.
Finally, Pitzer is the newest member of the Consortium. It is also the college experiencing the most meteoric rise in terms of prestige, national notoriety, and admissions standards. Therefor, for me, Pitzer is Poland. The bright newcomer with a positive economic outlook, Poland is part of what Donald Rumsfeld termed “New Europe”.
So there you have it. Does anyone have any other thoughts on EU-5C parallels that I didn’t discuss? Disagree with my country assignments?