The Main Campus Executive Faculty will vote today on the addition of a diversity requirement to the core curriculum that would apply to the Class of 2019.
The vote follows months of campaigning by the Last Campaign for Academic Reform and the Provost’s Committee for Diversity to add a diversity requirement to the curriculum. If the MCEF votes in favor of the requirement, students from all four schools will be required to take two overlay courses cross-listed under the category “Diversity, Power and Privilege.”
The requirement, which was unanimously approved by the Core Curriculum Committee, will need 29 votes from the MCEF to become part of the curriculum. The CCC consists of 15 faculty members who determine the core requirements for all four schools, while the MCEF, which consists of a body of 57 faculty members from each Georgetown school and two student representatives, votes on decisions related to all aspects of academic life.
LCAR will host a rally today at 2:45 p.m. in Dahlgren Quadrangle in support of the requirement vote, which it calls a “crucial moment in campus history” that Georgetown students have fought for since 1991. Over 320 students have confirmed their attendance on the event’s Facebook page.
The diversity requirement was first introduced in May 2010 by the Main Campus Initiative on Diversity and Inclusiveness but was rejected by the university. In the past few years, various campaigns, including LCAR, have aimed to reintroduce the diversity requirement.
Last Tuesday, 60 members from both the Latino Leadership Forum and LCAR participated in a sit-in to present a petition signed by 1,200 students in support of the diversity requirement to the office of University President John J. DeGioia.
MCEF Chair Ian Gale, a professor of economics, said that he is optimistic that the proposal for the requirement will pass, but that external factors are involved in the decision-making.
“There is broad support within the MCEF for a diversity requirement,” Gale wrote in an email to the hoya. “Whether the MCEF votes to support the proposal on Friday will depend on the details. For instance, members must be confident that there is enough space in the classes that satisfy the requirement so that every student can fulfill the requirement.”
Provost Committee’s Academic Sub-Committee Co-Chair and LCAR member Esiwahomi Ozemebhoya (COL ’15) emphasized the importance of diversity comprehension at Georgetown and the responsibility of the school as a Jesuit university to encourage discussions about diversity.
“A deep understanding [of diversity] is definitely missing,” Esiwahomi said. “People that are part of marginalized identities feel like they are being tolerated on this campus and not accepted.”
As the requirement will be in the form of an overlay course, under which approximately 80 current courses have been identified to fulfill the requirement, students will not have to take additional classes to fulfill it.
Ozemebhoya said that the requirement would help students develop a sense of empathy.
“If you have a lack of understanding of another person it’s on your onus,” Ozemebhoya said. “The university should take this up in a serious matter.”
KC Crewdson (SFS ’15), a student representative on the MCEF, said that the diversity requirement will encourage students to discuss critical issues related to identity and diversity.
“The diversity requirement is designed to encourage students to discuss and think critically about identity and diversity issues in our community, and to give them the theoretical tools and practical knowledge they need to do so,” Crewdson wrote in an email to the hoya.
Crewdson said that she is optimistic about the requirement passing, and that since many students already take classes that fulfill the requirement, the change on campus would be more cultural than curricular.
“This change will affect every [undergraduate], but it will have more of an effect on students who don’t take many classes in the humanities or social sciences,” Crewdson wrote
First Vice-Chair of the MCEF and Chair of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese Gwen Kirkpatrick said while she cannot predict the outcome of the vote, faculty members seemed to be supportive of the initiative in previous meetings.
Kirkpatrick said that most of the objections raised against the requirement concern administrative details, including the addition of more requirements to an already requirement-heavy system, the length needed to fulfill the requirement and the place of study abroad in the requirement.
Kirkpatrick also said that the diversity requirement would encourage faculty to develop new ideas for research and curricula.
“With time, however, it may have a greater effect on the curriculum overall,” Kirkpatrick said. “Faculty research interests continue to evolve, and thus they offer new or revised courses. For some faculty this proposal may be a research and curricular stimulus.”
Gale said that the requirement will enable Georgetown to better educate students about the importance of empathy and other principles.
“The core curriculum is one way that Georgetown communicates its institutional values,” Gale said. “As the proposal notes, ‘Georgetown is responsible for educating students about the realities of those outside of their lived experiences.’”
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