By Justus Sturtevant, Staff writer
Susquehanna needs to get serious about its diversity education.
I know that is a harsh assessment from a student who has not taken the vast majority of diversity classes at the uni- versity, but hear me out.
Thursday morning I was part of a discussion about racism in my business ethics class. For a class full of seniors who have all taken both diversity and diversity intensive classes, the discussion was very underwhelming.
At one point, the professor asked the class how we could use what we had learned about diversity at Susquehanna to address systemic racial issues in the world of business. After a few minutes of silence, there were several mumbled responses about judging people based on character rather than race.
Is that the best we can do? I recognize that race conversations in an 8:15 a.m. class full of predominantly white business majors will always be incomplete, but it still seems like we could have done a little better.
The discussion made me think back to the classes I took to fulfill the diversity and diversity intensive requirements of the central curriculum at Susquehanna. This was where my real issues with Susquehanna’s curriculum began.
In the fall of my sophomore year, I fulfilled the diversity requirement with Comparative Government and Politics.
One year later, I checked off the diversity intensive box with Management and Organizational Behavior.
Recently, I decided to take a closer look at the course catalog to see what other courses fulfilled these requirements. What I found was an odd mixture. Some classes seemed incredibly relevant to current conversations about diversity.
These included: Intro to Asian Religions; Race, Ethnicity & Minorities; Jewish Literature; Middle East Politics and Society; Introduction to Islam; Social Stratification.
Others seemed far less relevant. Under the list of current courses that fulfill diversity and diversity intensive require- ments I found the following selections: Oceanography; Intermediate German II; Intermediate French II; Dramatic Literature; Forms of Writing: Novel.
I may be completely out of line in suggesting these courses are not true diversity classes based solely on the name and department, but there certainly are some questions that need to be asked about the requirements of course that fulfill diversity at Susquehanna.
After all, the “diversity” courses I have taken at Susquehanna-Comparative Government and Politics, Management and Organizational Behavior and Legal Environment-were all courses designed with other focuses in mind. I would not claim to have much knowledge about diversity after having taken any of these classes.
I am proud of the fact that our school believes diversity to be an important part of its central curriculum; many of the classes that address diversity issues seem fantastic.
On the other hand, it seems to me that many of the courses students can use to fulfill diversity requirements were not designed with diversity in mind but had the diversity fulfillment attached to them to encourage students to take the course or to help students with that major.
As someone earning a dual degree who has overloaded every semester this is very helpful. As someone who sees the need for more comprehensive discussions of diversity on our campus it is very concerning.
There have been an alarming number of racially-charged incidents at Susquehanna in the last year. Perhaps it is time our curriculum reflected this and actually prioritized diversity in education.