According to ASPSU’s “Student Issues Survey,” which was distributed to over 500 students last spring, “getting the university to add a diversity requirement to PSU’s curriculum” is an endeavor that students support.
The current student government administration has addressed this student interest through its 2001-02 campaign.
The creation of a Multicultural Affairs Director position, filled by Jesse Shapiro, was the first step. ASPSU also actively supports black studies, Chicano Latino studies and native studies as degree programs at Portland State.
More than that, however, the student administration would like to see changes in the university studies diversity requirements at the sophomore level.
We share that concern. While some students going through the university studies program will receive a diversity-heavy education, and any student could certainly seek diversity out, it is possible to get through freshman and sophomore inquiries with very little exposure to diversity issues.
Despite the fact that university studies stresses “the appreciation of the diversity of human experience” as one of their four main goals, sophomore inquiry classes such as environmental sustainability prove to be much harder to incorporate diversity issues in than, for example, Asian studies.
In the past, faculty has been vocally critical of the lack of hard science and mathematics study within the general education program; students, however, appear to be voicing the need for additional education in diversity.
Although ASPSU and the senate faculty have already begun discussions on how to improve diversity education at PSU, and both sides look forward to more talks, past criticisms of university studies – and the techniques employed therein – may have put the faculty senate on the defensive.
The Vanguard applauds ASPSU’s continued efforts to further diversify our campus. In addition to progress made in the arena of ethnic studies, ASPSU’s support of Queers and Allies, the Women’s Resource Center and non-traditional student outreach is equally commendable in terms of “diversity.”
We also encourage the faculty senate and administration to take these concerns seriously and continue open dialogue with student representatives.
University studies is a young program with much room to grow and adapt to changing student needs. The expansion of diversity education is one of those needs, and we would all do well to remember that.