by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Classics majors at Princeton University will no longer be required to learn Greek or Latin in a push to create a more inclusive and equitable program, an effort that was given “new urgency” by the “events around race that occurred last summer,” according to faculty.
Last month, faculty members approved changes to the Classics department, including eliminating the “classics” track, which required an intermediate proficiency in Greek or Latin to enter the concentration, according to Princeton Alumni Weekly. The requirement for students to take Greek or Latin was also removed.
Josh Billings, director of undergraduate studies and professor of classics, said the shift will give students more opportunities to major in classics.
Billings said the changes had been floated before university president Christopher Eisgruber called for addressing systemic racism at the university, but the curriculum shift resurfaced as a priority after the president’s call to action and the “events around race that occurred last summer.”
“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.”
Billings said students will still be encouraged to take either language if it is relevant to their interests in the department and that the course offerings remain the same.
A diversity and equity statement on the department’s site says that the “history of our own department bears witness to the place of Classics in the long arc of systemic racism.” …
… The department has a four-person equity committee and says it aims to “create opportunities for the advancement of students and (future) colleagues from historically underrepresented backgrounds within the discipline.” …