How many ways can we define diversity education? Does diversity education include the study of class issues in India, gender disparities in Ireland and the music of China? Or is it simply a study of race and ethnicity in American culture?
ASPSU is campaigning for a more explicit diversity requirement in our general education system. Currently, the diversity degree requirement is met by university studies’ goal to stress “appreciation of the diversity of human experience” in each class.
ASPSU argues that it is possible for a student to get a degree at PSU with little or no exposure to diversity issues. University studies denies this claim.
Our student government would like to see each student in the university studies program take a class that specifically deals with diversity, replacing one of three required sophomore inquiry classes.
There is a major problem with the current debate over diversity education; the approaches of university studies and ASPSU offer only vague definitions of “diversity.”
What is diversity education?
University studies seems to define it as “human experience.” ASPSU is not specific about what diversity issues would qualify under its proposed diversity requirement.
ASPSU claims that among survey questionnaires received from 500 students, the top priority listed was “getting the university to add a diversity requirement to PSU’s curriculum.” The survey itself, however, prompts even more questions:
Since there was no definition on the written survey questionnaire, how did the students surveyed understand diversity education? Did the students receive their general education at Portland State through university studies? Were the respondents aware of the current application of diversity education at PSU?
Most students at PSU have their own concept of what “diversity” means. The practical application of diversity education, however, is much more difficult to outline than the abstract concept of appreciating and understanding “the diversity of human experience.”
If university studies cannot provide a clear definition of diversity education, how can it be certain students are even getting it? And if ASPSU does not understand what the university considers “diversity education,” how can it claim that we need more of it?
We are concerned that if university studies and ASPSU do not clarify the goals of diversity education on our campus, then “diversity” will be reduced to a mere buzzword.