24 October 2010

Where is diversity going?

One change in the proposed Gen Ed curriculum would replace the Diversity requirement with something vaguely and disingenuously called “civic engagement.” The proposal’s definition of civic engagement is even more vague and elusive than  the name itself, and so effectively this change would mean that many of our white students—the numbers and percentages will surely increase—will experience an entire four-year degree program without taking classes taught by faculty of color or classes in which they are actually in a minority.  Recently WSU created a Faculty Diversity Committee, charged with boosting recruitment and retention of “diverse” faculty. This committee is not charged with influencing the undergraduate curriculum, but there is a clear connection between “diversity” courses and a diverse faculty, and so we can only hope that the committee is voicing its protest against the Gen Ed proposal. Prospective faculty of color would surely rather work in a school with a “diversity” requirement than in a school without one.  More important, in these times of extreme and vicious polarities in our nation’s and region’s political discourse, now is no time to eliminate courses that require undergraduates to learn the histories of race and racism, gender and sexism.    

John Streamas

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