A-Senate: UP Group IV-C to remain focused on racism, ASL 100 out

Senator Alan Rudy, a sociology, anthropology and social work faculty member, explains his issues with changing the University Program's Group IV-C's wording Tuesday at the Academic Senate meeting.

After spending nearly an hour discussing changes to the University Program Group IV-C qualifiers, Academic Senators voted to allow the General Education Committee to explore adding a new group for diversity classes.

UP Group IV-C covers "Studies in Racism and Cultural Diversity in the United States." Classes included in this course must focus on "one or more of the major groups which experience both racism and invidious discrimination in the United States," according to the guidelines.

"The primary thing is that this is about racism, not identity," said Alan Rudy, a sociology, anthropology and social work faculty member. "It's about power and oppression. Racism is deeply rooted in the essence of the United States." 

Some senators wanted to change the guidelines for classes included in the UP group. The proposed changes would have allowed more diversity and discrimination classes into Group IV-C. This led to the abrupt adjournment of the A-Senate meeting on Sept. 30. 

ASL 100, an introduction to the deaf community, the cultural aspects of deafness and the deaf community, was added to the group at the Sept. 30 meeting. However, it was rescinded at Tuesday's meeting because it violated the A-Senate rules for inclusion.

A majority of senators supported keeping Group IV-C strictly about racism and discrimination, stating that their students need to learn about racism because they don't understand it. 

"We invented racism," Rudy said. "(Michigan is) one of the top five most racially segregated states in the union. I've had students tell me when they hear the word criminal they think 'black.' I had a student start a paragraph in a paper I was reading yesterday, 'sorry if this is racist, but...' Without understanding racism, it's easy to ignore it." 

Rudy went on to say that he has heard from colleagues that some parents choose to send their children to Central Michigan University because it is a "whiter campus." 

"This needs to be acknowledged, what's going on here," he said. "My students define racism through personal prejudice."

Other senators agreed, including Katrina Piatek-Jimenez, a math faculty member, stating that it is beneficial to study racism but also to have other diversity and discrimination classes for students.

"Racism is an important topic that we want our student to study, but it would not hurt our students to learn more," she said. "This would give us an option." 

Piatek-Jimenez said they could replace the current elective group with other discrimination courses, including studies on LGBTQ and the hearing impaired.

Maureen Eke, an English faculty member and a member of the Council on Cultural and Global Studies, told Academic Senators studying racism is important for students to grow. 

"There is increasing racism in this country," Eke said. "This is still necessary while this racially motivated society exists."