Faculty Council to consider diversity course proposal

Tuesday, February 15, 2011 | 4:45 p.m. CST; updated 7:35 p.m. CST, Wednesday, February 16, 2011

COLUMBIA — The MU Faculty Council will take up a diversity course proposal at its meeting Thursday.

The idea of adding a diversity course to graduation requirements for every student gained momentum after two students were put on probation for leaving cotton balls in front of the Gaines/Oldham Black Culture Center last February.

In January, faculty across campus were asked to comment on a list of courses put forward to satisfy a diversity requirement. Discussion was delayed when a snowstorm canceled a council meeting earlier this month.

The proposal before the council includes classes in a wide range of disciplines, from anthropology and geography to women and gender studies and black studies.

There was debate about courses considered "mono-cultural," such as Korean Civilization and Brazilian Cinema, and critics contended they did not specifically address problems of social inequality, according to Academic Affairs Committee Chairwoman Victoria Johnson.

The issue will be discussed Thursday, Johnson said.

Johnson said there has been a push for a diversity course requirement for a long time, but it came to the forefront after last year's incident. 

“It should have been implemented a long time ago,” she said.

Faculty Council members have been asked to solicit feedback from their constituents for Thursday's meeting. The intent is to head off problems about the proposal so it will pass, Johnson said.

The diversity course requirement won’t force students to take more classes, said Leona Rubin, a member of the council's executive committee. The difficulty will be implementing the requirement, Rubin said.

“We don’t want to overburden a small number of classes, and we don’t want to have too many classes, either,” she said.

A subcommittee of the Committee on Undergraduate Education will be created to approve the courses, according to Rubin.

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Ellis Smith February 16, 2011 | 1:29 p.m.

Students who truly belong at a university shouldn't need this; the others shouldn't be at the university in the first place.

If this is made a requirement I hope that 99.99% of MU's students protest against it as being unfair, unnecessary and unreasonable.

"Mess up and you're out!" How many hours of "diversity training" should be required to get that message across?
Perhaps 15 minutes.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz February 16, 2011 | 2:48 p.m.

Ellis, check out the link in the article and prepare to be boggled. I guess us white guys just don't get it, but I'm thinking a three-hour course for the length of a semester is brutal overkill and will engender more hatred of diversity than what the administration is hoping it will create.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith February 16, 2011 | 5:38 p.m.

@ John Schultz:

Most sane people wouldn't consider use of a shotgun to kill a few flies, but we may not be looking at sane people.

It's probably possible to kill a few flies with a shotgun, but you will end up with a real mess. :)

(Report Comment)
David Karr February 16, 2011 | 6:20 p.m.

Actually, what the faculty are proposing is common practice. These courses are already on the books, and the requirement would simply be that in accumulating their 120-plus hours of credit on the way to their undergraduate degree, students make sure that (a mere) 3 of those hours are from *one* of the dozens of available classes.

Note also, that from a pragmatic standpoint, employers do appreciate knowing that students--who (let's face it) in this town do often come from provincial backgrounds--have had some training in how to better understand people who are "not like them."

Happy Wednesday!

(Report Comment)

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