Petition for diversity requirement gains ground
Last Monday, the Last Campaign for Academic Reform (LCAR) began circulating a petition for Georgetown to pass a Diversity, Power and Privilege two-course overlay requirement to be implemented in Fall 2015.
Although Georgetown students have been organizing for core curricular reform to include diversity for 25 years, the most recent initiative started in Feb. 2014 with the drafting of an official “Engaging Difference” requirement to “educate Georgetown students on issues concerning race, class, ethnicity, sexual identity, immigration status, gender and gender identity, religious identity and disability/ability”. This endeavour been a collaborative effort of both the LCAR and the Provost’s Committee for Diversity.
LCAR member Dan Zager (COL ’18) clarified in an email with Vox that the requirement will not add an aggregate number of courses to the core curriculum as it currently exists.
“The nature of the overlay is that the courses tagged as fulfilling the learning goals can count towards the diversity requirement as well as any other requirement––whether it be in the core or in a student’s chosen major or minor,” he said. “In this way, even bachelors of science, with little freedom in their schedules, can take a theology, philosophy, or writing course (in the core) marked as ‘diversity-related’ without adding any classes to their course load.”
Currently, Georgetown is the only top-tier Jesuit University that does not have a diversity class or requirement; Boston College, Fordham, Marquette, along with other top institutions like Cornell, Brown, and Yale all have incorporated diversity into their cores.
According to Zager, the ultimate goal of the reform is to change the way people view the world. “It’s far too easy to get lost within our own heads––that’s the nature of personal experience,” he said. “David Foster Wallace called it our ‘default setting.’ And because of our default setting, it can be difficult to get out of our heads and understand the insidious ways in which marginalized communities are systemically disadvantaged, especially if we aren’t part of a certain marginalized community.”
He also stressed the importance of empathy and understanding how personal identity informs both how a person views the world as well as the way that person is viewed by the world.
“It’s important for every Hoya to understand that nobody comes into an interaction on an equal playing field; that’s just the structure of our society, in the U.S. and in the world,” Zager said. “By getting students to analyze these disparities in an academic setting, we hope to spark conversations outside the classroom with the goal of a critical understanding of the position of others in this unequal world.”
The LCAR has been circulating this petition to demonstrate to University administration and faculty that the student body is serious about the implementation of this requirement. According to LCAR member Esther Owolabi (COL ’15), the petition currently has 854 online signatures and over 100 signatures on physical petition forms.
After proposing the curricular reform to the administration in early December, it has since been adopted and edited by the members of the diversity committee and will be presented to the Main Campus Executive Faculty on March 27.
This Thursday, the GUSA Multicultural Council and The Last Campaign for Academic Reform are holding a Town Hall for open student dialogue about the introduction of this requirement to the academic curriculum.
Photo: Marisa Hawley/The Georgetown Voice