MU Faculty Council members argue about diversity course requirement proposal

Thursday, February 17, 2011 | 7:35 p.m. CST; updated 10:02 p.m. CST, Thursday, February 17, 2011

COLUMBIA – The MU Faculty Council debated the diversity course requirement proposal at length Thursday but took no action.

Some members questioned whether the requirement would actually help students gain a greater respect for diversity. They argued that attitudes on campus were unlikely to change because of a required course.

Councilwoman April Langley defended the requirement and emphasized the need for it. She  presented research results that demonstrated ways a diversity course requirement had improved other universities.

“Recent incidents make it clear that values for diversity need to be taught,” Langley said.

The council also scrutinized the list of courses proposed to satisfy the diversity course requirement.

Most of the discussion concentrated on courses omitted rather than those included. Council members Xiaoguang Ni and Nicole Monnier asked why certain classes such as labor economics or German civilization weren’t on the list.

Councilwoman Victoria Johnson said courses on the list were intended to be a sampling of the possibilities. A faculty member can submit any course for consideration.

A few council members called the diversity course requirement a symbolic gesture and questioned its usefulness.

Johnson agreed that there is a symbolic element to the requirement but said she believed it to be a necessary element.

“This requirement shows that Mizzou values diversity,” she said.

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