Our college newspaper, The Student Life, received a flash drive with a leaked report about Harvey Mudd College’s workload — conducted at the request of the college — that included anonymous quotes from students and faculty criticizing the constant onslaught of homework. Students, the report said, don’t have time to eat, sleep or shower, let alone pursue extracurricular activities. Despite the vehement protests of college administrators, I went ahead with the story. We included a copy of the full report along with the published article.
The story’s publication prompted an uproar from students, who felt betrayed by the administration and furious the report hadn’t been shared with the campus community. One group of students littered Mudd with printouts of quotes from the report. Others led a protest through an administration building. At a community forum, students shouted their demands at Mudd President Maria Klawe.
The administration promised increased transparency and pledged additional funding to diversity groups, but students continued to protest. They staged a sit-in after Mudd placed a popular health and wellness dean, who spoke out for students during the community forum, on paid leave. Eventually, the college canceled two days of classes to give everyone a chance to regroup.
During Mudd’s ongoing crisis, the school released another external review — this time just of its core curriculum — with similar conclusions to the first review. The school ended what Klawe called an “incredibly painful” year with a pledge to review the workload.
The following semester, I returned to Mudd’s campus to see whether the college was following through with its promise. Indeed, the school is working on a plan to update its curriculum and make life more manageable for students.