An initiative that would require students to enroll in diversity courses to graduate has recently undergone changes in an effort to make sure the diversity requirement would be applied to all students–not just those in University Studies. The Diversity Initiative, created by the NAACP at PSU student group six months ago, has yet to be discussed by the faculty senate, a step that is necessary for it to go into effect.
Diversity proposal gains support of student senate
An initiative that would require students to enroll in diversity courses to graduate has recently undergone changes in an effort to make sure the diversity requirement would be applied to all students–not just those in University Studies.
The Diversity Initiative, created by the NAACP at PSU student group six months ago, has yet to be discussed by the faculty senate, a step that is necessary for it to go into effect.
However, the student senate gave its support of the newly revised proposal last month, according to student body vice president and head of the student senate Brad Vehafric. Vehafric said the proposal would encourage students to expand their perspectives and viewpoints.
Unlike the previous initiative, which would force students in some clusters in University Studies to take certain diversity classes in order to graduate, the revised initiative would replace one class in the 12-credit Arts and Letters general education requirement with a four-credit diversity course requirement.
Six months ago, Sheila Pete, president of the NAACP at PSU, presented a suggestion to the faculty senate that said PSU should require all students to enroll in diversity courses.
Pete’s original suggestion was initially supported by the faculty senate, she said, who agreed with her that diversity was not a significant enough portion of the education process at PSU.
However, when Pete later suggested changing the University Studies program requirements, she said her initiative was met with some opposition.
“The initiative wasn’t outrightly pushed back, but there were some specific concerns,” Pete said. “Members of the faculty senate had specific concerns.”
Faculty and administration were primarily concerned with altering the established University Studies program, Pete said.
“People are resistant to changing the university system, and that is not necessarily a bad thing,” Pete said.
After reviewing the initiative with the Academic Requirement Committee in an effort to ease the faculty senate’s concerns, Pete said a member of the committee realized the limitations of making changes in University Studies.
“That proposal wouldn’t affect all students–[not] those that transfer here later, or those that are in an honors program,” Pete said.
Instead, the committee suggested that the initiative call for changes within the Arts and Letters graduation requirement.
Even though Pete said many faculty members have already heard about the proposal and voiced their opinions, the faculty senate will not likely hear the issue on the floor before next fall.
“I don’t think it will be an easy process. Nobody likes giving things up in their department or curriculum,” Pete said. “This is a political process, and there are many options for something to go wrong.”
The possibility remains that the faculty senate will choose to disregard the initiative or alter it or that the resolve driving the initiative may soften next year after Pete is no longer NAACP president. Although a change in leadership is forthcoming, Pete said that pushing for the diversity requirement will continue to be a priority.
“This will be one of the main goals of our organization next year,” Pete said.
Although many students enroll in diversity courses to fulfill other requirements, Pete said that PSU is best served by creating a requirement for students to learn more about other cultures and ethnicities.
“We recognize that students need the classroom forum to educate themselves, and hopefully remove some of the things they think, and some of the stereotypes that they have,” Pete said.