The many problems with the curricular “compromise” that pits diversity courses against EQJS. Students should be required to take EQJS and Diversity courses. Make real change.

I oppose the change to the university diversity requirement as currently configured. As someone who played a role in drafting of the original proposal, this purported compromise renders the potential progress in this curricular change null and void. The shift to allowing students to pick between diversity and EQJS is a HUGE step backward, a betrayal to the work of the committee, to the demands from students over the years, and an afront those efforts to address campus climate and systemic inequities that plague our communities. Institutionally, it would harm the work we do in CES. It will hurt our unit, SLCR, as it will create a division between courses that are seen as “good” (i.e., DIVR) and those that are “bad” (EQJS). In a moment where attacks against teachings about racism are widespread, such a movement further the demonization of this work and will invariably lead to less investment and further retreat, not more. Simply, it is the wrong move.

Last summer, the university administration and departments across the university made statements in the wake of the murder of George Floyd and countless other incidences involving anti-Black racism. Is this the change that was requested? The change that was promised? A choice between confronting racism, power inequities, privilege or learning about diverse histories, cultures, and experiences? Why not both? Given the gravity of the issues, and the stated institutional commitment, shouldn’t the changes lead to more, not less? Should we not demand more of ourselves, not less. Or were those words merely performances of hollow rhetoric that never sought true policy decisions and changes?

Something to consider: why are students being asked to choose between DIVR and EQJS? Why not choose between EQJS and ROOTS or SCCI? Why cannot students choose across UCORE as there are overlaps across each category? What is the rationale? The point of creating a new category like EQJS was that these classes would do fundamentally different things from the ones under DIVR. There is overlap but that can be said about any two courses under any two designations. The logic with the way the proposal was redesigned is flawed. I doubt anyone ever suggested that students should be able to choose between SCCI and BIO. Yet, they have created a proposal where students choose between learning about diversity and learning about power and privilege. Very revealing.

The “compromise” is no compromise but a betrayal of the fundamental efforts to transform the curriculum. It is a betrayal of student demands, of those who have spoken their truths in the name of change. It is more of the same, at best. At worst, it will lead to harm to our students, our unit, and the undermining of the work we do. Just as the past “revision” to the curriculum led to less curricular emphasis on DEI courses, and an undermining of the units doing this work, this rebranding of the current shortcomings of the curriculum, will cause more harm than good. It represents a failure to the work that was done, the demands of students, and the moment we are living.

Lastly, if the UCORE committee and faculty senate are going to promote EQJS in other units, I would hope that other units would be encouraged and empowered to also teach ROOT, COMM, or WRTG courses since it is clear that the university believes that faculty across the university can teach anything and everything. It might be beneficial for the those in positions of power to recognize the expertise and pedagogical challenges of these courses, empowering those units and their faculties to teach these courses. This effort to further dilute programs such as CES and WGSS speaks to yet another failure of this proposal and WSU’s alleged commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice. It proves yet again that the stated commitments to change, to justice and inclusion, are hollow, superficial, and without the needed resources and commitment to institutional transformation.

David Leonard,

School of Languages, Cultures, and Race