What CMC student hasn’t recently shared a hearty laugh with friends over a joke whose punchline is “Pomona”? It’s common practice at the 5Cs to poke fun at the four schools you don’t attend, and I would argue that this is a harmless tradition. It’s important for us to be able to laugh at ourselves and recognize that some (or even most) of the time we are completely ridiculous. I would happily laugh along with a Pitzer student about the absurd obsession CMC has with bro tanks. However, we need to remember to find a happy medium when it comes to 5C stereotypes.
I think it’s fantastic that the Claremont Colleges have such distinctive personalities. This gives each college a sense of identity and unity that larger schools simply can’t offer. It also means that each college can specialize in certain academic subjects, activities, and student interests. We have a strong feeling of pride for our respective schools, which adds an extra layer of richness to our college experiences. Yet, it seems that 5C students have a tendency to forget that one of the best parts of going to school here is that we have the opportunity to co-mingle with students from other colleges. Every 5C student should spend time experiencing the culture of the other four colleges.
Before coming to CMC, I heard quite a bit from alumni about how great the Claremont Colleges were and how nice it was that the schools were all so connected. Yet, since I’ve been here, I’ve noticed much more animosity between the schools than I ever expected to see, and I think quite a bit of this comes from the harshness with which we all stereotype the schools we don’t go to. I’ve spoken to several people who have the mentality that “all the students at ____ are like this, and I don’t like any of them.” I’ve even noticed myself falling into the trap of criticizing the other colleges to my friends back home and loudly asserting that CMC is the best of the 5Cs. It’s great to be able to poke fun at the other schools and engage in friendly competition, but it’s all too common for the stereotyping to go too far and to become cruel and harmful.
The athletic rivalry between CMS and Pomona-Pitzer is undeniably a lot of fun; everybody likes to have a Big Game to look forward to. But the sporting relationships of the 5Cs are tricky, because even though we’re opponents on the field, we’re still part of the same consortium, which should be behaving in a collaborative way. We simply can’t and shouldn’t have the kind of rivalry that USC and UCLA have. It’s fine to get a little bit competitive over which school excels the most in which academic field, and there’s no problem with having school pride, but the rivalries, especially the one between CMC and Pomona (as it seems to be the most intense one), should largely stay on the field (or court, or pool). It’s clear that the rivalry has become harmful when CMC students can be heard blatantly saying that they hate Pomona and all its students. This is not a beneficial way to approach other members of our consortium, and holding onto this unwillingness to respect all five of the colleges ultimately diminishes our college experience.
I’d like to conclude with some relevant advice from my favorite movie:
“I just wish we could all get along like we used to in middle school. I wish I could bake a cake filled with rainbows and smiles and everyone would eat it and be happy.” –The Girl Who Doesn’t Even Go Here But Has a Lot of Feelings