Non-race discrimination UP requirement to be added in 2019
After a semester of continuous debate, the Academic Senate voted to add a new University Program category to the curriculum requiring students to take a course in non-race based discrimination.
The proposal passed with 64 percent approval at the Academic Senate meeting April 4. At the meeting, A-Senators engaged in a final debate regarding subgroup IV-D, “Studies in Other Forms of Discrimination in the U.S. and Other Countries,” before finally agreeing to take a vote.
Subgroup IV-D will require CMU students starting in 2019 to take a class focused on discrimination issues regarding gender, sex, identity, sexuality, sexual orientation, religion or disability.
In the meantime, the General Education Committee will review the legislation and perfect it before implementation, said A-Senator Cherie Strachan of the Political Science and Public Administration department.
The class will replace the UP-elective category, and will not affect the total number of general education hours students are required to take.
Senator Maureen Eke of the English Language and Literature department said the new subgroup is critical because students won’t be able to succeed in many careers without diversity education.
“I hope that we vote conscientiously,” Eke said during the debate, “so we do the right things for our students and prepare them to be better citizens, to be better prepared to work and serve, especially in a world that is changing dramatically.”
The proposal was first introduced to A-Senate in January. However, Strachan and Senator Mary Senter of the Sociology, Anthropology and Social Work department have been drafting the legislation since 2014.
During the semester, opponents of the requirement expressed concern that it would potentially add time to students’ graduation tracks and limit their flexibility and free choice in course selection.
To address these concerns, Senter and Strachan revised the proposal in March to allow students to apply for exemption with their department if they fear the requirement will prevent them from graduating.
Senter said exemptions will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
Though revisions were made, some A-Senators still vocalized opposition at Tuesday’s meeting, including Jerry DiMaria of the College of Business Administration.
DiMaria said students should have the freedom to explore electives. He added students forced to take a class won’t grasp the important aspects it was designed for.
“Let’s educate them, not mandate them,” he said.
However, most of the Academic Senate agreed that while subgroup IV-D will not solve diversity problems on campus, it will be a step in the right direction.
Strachan said she didn’t understand why the process leading up to the vote was so long. She recognized the concerns students and faculty expressed during debates, but maintained the new requirement will provide a well-rounded education every CMU student should obtain.
“We, as faculty who drafted this proposal, believe that this is in our students’ best interest,” Strachan said. “Even (though some) students don’t understand why it’s important or didn’t want it, (it helps) in a way that doesn’t require major new investments for the university or for students. To make sure that they really understand how to be effective and functional citizens and professionals when they leave.”