College President at Common Core Hearing Criticized for Comment: ‘What Were They Looking for … Dark Ones?’

The president of Hillsdale College, located in Hillsdale, Mich., appeared before a state subcommittee hearing to discuss the state’s adoption of the Common Core State Standards Wednesday and is seeing criticism for a comment he made referencing the private institution’s position to accept students without consideration of race.

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Larry Arnn (Photo:

Larry Arnn, speaking against the state’s adoption of the standards, included that when he became the twelfth president of the liberal arts college in 2000 state officials criticized the college for not having many minority students.

“The State of Michigan sent a group of people down to my campus, with clipboards […] to look at the colors of people’s faces and write down what they saw. We don’t keep records of that information. What were they looking for besides dark ones?,” Arnn said, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Lawmakers in turn criticized Arnn for his comment.

“You’re the president of a college. I would expect better out of you,” Rep. David Knezek (D-Dearborn Heights) said, according to the Free Press.

According to Hillsdale’s website, the college’s charter prohibits “any discrimination based on race, religion or sex, and became an early force for the abolition of slavery.” The Free Press reported that Arnn attempted to explain this to lawmakers but was cut off.

The college emailed TheBlaze a statement regarding what Arnn said.

“A controversy has arisen over Dr. Arnn’s use of the terms ‘dark ones’ to describe the non-white students the state bureaucrats were there to identify,” the statement read. “No offense was intended by the use of the term except to the offending bureaucrats, and Dr. Arnn is sorry if such offense was honestly taken. But the greater concern, he believes, is the state-endorsed racism the story illustrates.”

One of the college’s core principles is “institutional independence,” which it achieves by refusing to accept federal or state taxpayer subsidies. Hillsdale’s statement mentions that federal and state bureaucrats have attempted to “force it to count its by race.”

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Buildings on Hillsdale Collge’s campus in Hillsdale, Michigan. (Photo: Wikimedia)

“Racial polarization is increasing rather than decreasing in our nation today, and Dr. Arnn believes that the solution to this destructive trend is a return to the first principles of the nation, the principles of the Declaration of Independence and to the idea of a colorblind Constitution based on those principles,” the college’s statement continued.

Full disclosure: Liz Klimas is a Hillsdale College alum.