John Faranda: The College Years

CMC's calendar is marked for the arrival of its new president and detailed plans for an athletic facility. But with so much focus on the future, we can forget the roots of this college. Typists, bulky cameras, and women-excluding fight songs are a thing of the past, but traditions and student interests largely remain the same.

The Forum asked Vice President for Alumni and Parent Relations John Faranda ’79 to reflect on his undergraduate years:

The typical student

Faranda said CMC attracted (and continues to attract) students with an end goal in mind.

“CMC students continue to be really directed people and still many people who are interested in finance, government, and public affairs,” he said.

Faranda said students from his time rarely wanted to become college professors. They wanted to put to practice what they learned.

“People who even had academic pretentions wanted to do real-world things. A guy that I knew was an art major…but his first job after CMC was not going up to Mt. Baldy and throwing pots for a year. Instead, he went to IBM and worked in the Corporate Art Collection,” he said.

Faranda said CMC students continue to be “practically-oriented in their education” but with one change: their desire to serve in Teach For America.

Even though the program did not exist in the seventies, he said he finds it interesting that it has become “such a big employer of recent alumni.”

“Most of them are not intending to become teachers as their profession. This is something for them to do before they go off to graduate school or something like that,” he said.

Lifetime learners

Though CMC does not cultivate the next generation of teachers, it does shape its students into learners for life. Faranda said students from every generation should expect to learn something new at any given moment—in class, hanging out with friends, on the field, and at the Athenaeum.

He told the story of a lesson he said he will never forget: “I remember at one of our Government Honors dinners, [I] was wearing a bow tie. Some student in the group said, ‘John Faranda, I didn’t think that you would wear a clip-on bow tie. That’s kind of tacky.’ And Professor Elliot said, ‘John Faranda would never wear a clip-on bow tie,’ and he reached across the table and untied my bow tie. And I figured out right then that I didn’t really need a mirror to tie my bow tie.”

Faranda’s moral of the story: Do not wear a clip-on bowtie around Professor Ward Elliot.

Athleticism abounds—with women

According to the CMC Athletics website, over 30 percent of students currently participate in varsity athletics. But the importance of athletics is nothing new, Faranda said.

“I can remember seeing soccer games on Parents’ Field when no one really knew what soccer was. In 1975, I’m very certain that we did not have a soccer team at my high school. So, when I came here, people like John Pritzlaff—after whom the field is named and who grew up in Europe—and some international students played…this weird soccer game,” he said.

“It’s interesting, too, that the women have embraced athletics as much as the men at CMC.”

Fight songs, shaved heads, and "pondings"

The addition of women has done more than just change the face of CMS athletics; it has forced a change in several traditions from Faranda’s time, too.

“Obviously some things from the Men’s College era aren’t appropriate anymore. [Professor] Ward Elliot has tried to keep some of these things alive to an extent. We used to sing songs about ‘the sons of Claremont’; that doesn’t work anymore,” he said.

“Ward rewrote it with 'sons and daughters of Claremont,' but somehow the tune just doesn’t quite work with 'and daughters' thrown in.”

Faranda said some traditions from the Claremont Colleges’ history would no longer be considered “politically correct.”

“Some of these traditions were over even before my time: Pomona College used to weigh in the freshmen. The men at Pomona College had to wear blue beanies, and the women at Pomona had to step on a scale. The men at CMC had to have their heads shaved,” he said.

“These things, now, are considered illegal forms of hazing, and you would be put in jail if you did them. [With] some of these traditions, it’s great that we don’t do them anymore.”

Other traditions have simply evolved to fit the time and circumstance, Faranda said.

“'Pondings' happened in my era, though back then they happened in Seal Pond at Scripps,” he said.

“If you talk to some alumni from the fifties…they ask: ‘Do they still throw people in the pond when they get engaged?’ And I say, ‘No, we throw them in on their birthdays now because no one gets engaged during college anymore.’”

Technological updates

Perhaps a more obvious difference between the seventies and today is technological advancement.

“The classrooms in my era did not have carpeting or air conditioning. It if was a hot day, it was just hot in class,” he said.

Air conditioning is still nonexistent in some of the dormitories, but Faranda assured us that progress will be made shortly.

“We’re going to add air conditioning to the Mid Quad dormitories,” he said.

One update that students today do not have to do without is the luxury of typing on a computer. In Faranda’s day, he said, students would hire typists for long papers and especially senior theses.

“The typists were handed down from senior to junior. You better get your typist lined up six months in advance. I think we paid a dollar per page.”

Having a typist forced students to work punctually on their theses, he said.

“You had to have your thesis done far in advance. If your typist was typing five people’s theses, she had that on a schedule. If you didn’t get your chapters in to her so she could type them for you, you didn’t get your thesis in on time.”

Snapping a quick photo and uploading it to Facebook is now routine for Faranda, but during his undergraduate years, he said, far fewer photos were taken.

“Photos weren’t digital back then, so they were much more complicated. You used to have to take pictures and get them developed at some drug store. No one would have carried a camera around campus and especially not to a party.”

The link between "then" and "now"

No matter the changes that have happened since Faranda’s time as an undergraduate student, two vital links hold these generations together, he said.

The first link is valued by students of the past, present, and future: employment and internships.

“Who is going to give our students internships? Well, we hope it is the people who graduated from here years ago and have gone out and decided that they need some good CMCers at their companies,” he said.

The second link between the generations is Facebook.

“We can do it online from the privacy of our phones, tablets, and desktops. It is a great way to stay in touch with people and build the CMC community. And you hope that over time you can take advantage of that to promote people coming back for Alumni Weekend or something like that,” he said.

A quick picture and hundreds of CMC alumni and current students were connected.

During the middle of this interview, which took place on Pritzlaff Field during a soccer game, Faranda demonstrated the importance of Facebook as a connector: “Three to zero, right?”

As he explained the differences between the past and present, he continued to update his Facebook status. He asked, “And this was against Whittier?”