Diversity Council proposes two school-wide student requirements

    The Academics/Education Work Group, a sub-division of the recently-formed University Diversity Council, released its proposal Tuesday for a mandatory diversity requirement for students across all six undergraduate schools.  

    The proposal involves two explicit requirements that all students would have to complete within their first two years: taking a class in the category of "social inequalities and diversities" and being involved in a "co-curricular" program consisting of weekly discussions with other students outside of class. The requirement, according to the proposal, is projected to go into effect in fall 2015.

    During the course of the next year, individual schools will be responsible for proposing classes that could fall under the "social inequalities and diversities" category. The proposal explains:

    "Within each school faculty members would submit candidates for this new category of course, and each school would collate and disseminate a list of approved courses. The course would count toward a school's distribution requirement (not an additional course) and each school would determine how to incorporate the requirement into its curricular structure."

    What the co-curricular requirement would look like for students, meanwhile, is less clear. The leading candidate for facilitating such a requirement is Sustained Dialogue Campus Network, a program already in place at multiple universities across the country. The requirement, according to the proposal, would "organize students into small groups to build relationships and develop strategies to improve student relations."  

    Although development of the co-curriclar requirement "is still in the works" and "can go in a lot of different directions," said Weinberg senior Hayley Stevens, ASG associate vice president for diversity and inclusion, implementation of both requirements is at this point matter of "when," not "if."

    "We use the term 'draft,' but this is the official proposal," Stevens said. "I think it's in good shape, and I'd be surprised if anything were changed from it."

    The idea for a curricular diversity requirement was borne out of an April 2012 petition that demanded, among other things, a "cultural competency requirement." Since then, the University Diversity Council has collaborated with students and professors to outline the means for such a requirement.

    Although some students expressed reservations when the idea surfaced for mandating diversity-themed classes, Stevens said that since the proposal was released, she's received only positive feedback.

    "Last year when we brought up the idea we faced some resistance, and we got a sense that it was just a lot of kids who didn't like the idea of being told what to do," Stevens said. "But I think since then students have realized that the requirement wouldn't be that strict, and the negative feedback has really transformed in the 10 months since the petition was released."

    ASG will be will be holding a public Q-and-A session to discuss the proposal next Thursday, March 7 in the Norris Armadillo Room.


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