The December 2010 magazine reported that the entering Class of 2014 includes just 8 African American and 21 Hispanic students, out of 373. To a recent graduate, Reed’s racial homogeneity is no secret. Nonetheless, these are dismally low figures, and they deserve the attention of everyone who cares for the future of the College.
Blacks and Latinos now comprise more than one-quarter of the U.S. population. They are under-represented at Reed by a factor of six and three, respectively. Even by the standards of other elite liberal arts colleges, Reed’s demographics are radically out of joint with the country’s.
For too long, I didn’t see this as a problem that had particular relevance for me, lately a part of Reed’s white supermajority. But it does. The academy and the nation cry out for creative minds trained to confront the full breadth of our world with clear vision. It is more important than ever for Reed’s students to encompass the experience of our society as a whole, not just of certain privileged strata. When some perspectives are missing, all of us are left blind.
Institutional cultures die hard, and they rarely die harder than they do at Reed. The College has often proclaimed that it is ‘not for everyone.’ As a mandate for intellectual rigor, that exclusivity is honorable. Too often, however, Reed has also been less than welcoming for students of color, and in the school’s second century, this dishonorable tradition must change. I hope that students, faculty, and staff may all come to sense the urgency of making the College accessible for all thinkers, regardless of race.
Editor's Note: Response from Keith Todd, dean of admission: Thanks for raising this issue. Over the past decade, minority enrollment has increased at Reed, but we were disappointed in this past year’s numbers. About 22 percent of the entering class are students of color, with additional diversity coming from our international students. We are working to increase our recruitment toward students of color; this spring, we increased the number of admitted students of color we flew to campus to visit, and we also have increased the number of underrepresented students in our outreach mailings for the next cycle. Events such as our Minority Student Preview Days have been positive in affecting enrollment, and we are looking to create new avenues to attract the broadest, most diverse pool of intellectually motivated students possible.
I was very much taken with the [March 2011] cover story, “Fighting for Amanda’s Dream.” So much passion, greed, determination, vision in all the particulars of that drama. Martin Winch’s sense of duty and honor to his aunt and uncle’s dream is the first instance of what became the Reed Honor Code, writ large. The Reeds’ 12-year “residence” in Pasadena, California set off one of those “Ah-ha!” epiphanies in my mind.
When I was a boy, my parents would often take me to play in a park with an old Victorian house on it. I always wondered why it was called Carmelita, and who lived in that old house. At the back of the property stood an immensely tall, shingle-clad water tower. It was all torn down in the 1960s, and in its place was built the Pasadena Museum of Modern Art, complete with beautiful gardens. The multiple layers of symbolism, connection, symmetry, irony, what-might-have-been, came cascading in, now knowing the back-story. Amanda Reed did get an institution built for the “intelligence, prosperity, and happiness of its inhabitants” . . . in both cities. And every New Year’s Day, that institution (now the Norton Simon Museum) is the backdrop for all to see as the television cameras film the Tournament of Roses Parade making the great turn at the corner of Orange Grove and Colorado Boulevards.
Fleshing-out that period of Amanda and Simeon’s life in Pasadena would provide an interesting resonance to the founding of Reed.
When I think of Kim I see her radiant smile, which is a nice way to remember someone. I was a sophomore when Kim started as a freshman in 1984 and it is such a joy to remember my time with her because she was always so positive and full of energy. She was witty, kind, and artistic. I remember that year around Thanksgiving she went up the hill and got work painting storefront windows for the holidays for money! I can’t imagine having the guts or the talent to do that, but that is the way she lived then and continued to live her life—upbeat and seeking new challenges undaunted.
Tiny and redheaded, she also became the coxswain for our crew team and led us to first place in the novice division of a headrace on the Willamette River.
I don’t think we ever saw each other again after Reed, but we shared the same birth date (a couple years apart) and we used to call each other once a year on that day and catch up. We lost touch, but I kept track of her through a network of mutual friends. She had moved back to Colorado, she had started a singing career, she lived in Gibraltar, she had a daughter, and she got sick.
Kim died earlier this year and I was very saddened by the news. She had a two-year old daughter, Victoria. Facebook is a funny thing—her page is still up, but now it is filled with lovely and heartfelt and sad messages about how much she is missed. It also contains this message:
People have been asking how to contribute to Victoria. Please send any contributions to the BBVA Compass Bank, 7375 Ralston Road, Arvada, Colorado 80002, made out to the Victoria Baker Trust Fund.
I honor her by helping her daughter, whom I’ve never met. Kim helped to make our time at Reed fun. She was a sweet person; I wish I could tell her that now.
Throughout her tragically short life, Kim Quirk was a constant reminder of how powerful an infectious smile and positive attitude can be. At Reed, in addition to being a wonderful friend who always had time for others, she also managed to study, sing in a band, volunteer AND graduate on time—no small feat. She took that boundless energy into the “real world,” where she excelled at everything she tried, making countless friends across the globe and inspiring many to push their boundaries, even a little, like she did most every day. Whether it was working as the art director of a sporting equipment company in Hood River, Oregon, rock climbing in Spain, or raising a family in Colorado, Kim approached these endeavors with singular dedication, flavored, of course, with healthy dose of fun. Even when confronted by her recent illness, Kim fought it with heroic grit and determination, remaining overwhelmingly positive throughout, fighting (and laughing and smiling), all while giving those around her the strength to carry on without her. Kim will be dearly missed. Not only by those whom she touched closely through friendships over the years, but also by those who barely knew her. Anyone fortunate enough to spend time with her will forever cherish the wonderful and enduring spirit that was Kim.