SA panelists defend proposal

By Jim Harris

The proposed mandatory multiculturalism requirement has invoked many negative criticisms, as well as support.

A panel of Student Association members held a forum on Monday to discuss information regarding the proposed requirement and to give the public an opportunity to air its views in order to reach a better understanding of the proposition.

After the introduction of the panelists by SA President Abe Andrzejewski, student Regent John Butler presented the results of the recent studies conducted by the SA’s ad-hoc committee to study multiculturalism programs at other colleges. Butler discussed the recent proposal of a multicultural curriculum at Texas A&M University, which would require students to take one course that examines American cultures and another that incorporates international perspectives, out of a total of more than 80 course offerings. Butler cited an article published in the Nov. 17 issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education. The article also contained statements regarding opposition to the proposal.

After Butler was finished presenting the results, the floor was open to questions. One respondent stated her “disgust” with the panel, and her opposition to the fact that the courses would be mandatory. She claimed that there was a large student opposition to the proposal, and that the SA was “insensitive” to the concerns of students, as the proposal would place a “financial burden” on students. Butler later said that she had “misrepresented what she claimed to be student opposition” and Andrzejewski refuted her claim that the SA was not concerned with students.

Butler addressed the misconception that the SA is trying to establish one mandatory course. Butler was not able to say exactly how the requirement would be established in the curriculum and said that it is the responsibility of the faculty to decide just how it is placed in the curriculum.

He did say that it was similar to the Texas A&M proposal. Also, he said that the SA will issue a report to the provost after further investigation for future faculty consideration.

A few of the panelists addressed the misconception that the requirement will make everyone “get along” and “love each other.”

“We need to diffuse the misconception that we’re doing this to make everyone get along,” Butler said. “It’s being done so as to enable people to manage diversity within their specific field of interest.”

After the forum ended, Andrzejewski said, “We (the SA and the public) came to a positive consensus at the end of the meeting. When misconceptions about the requirement were cleared, the consensus seemed to be in favor of the requirement as we spelled it out.”

Liz Monge, a senior communications major, supported the requirement. “There is no way around the implementation of multicultural education. Our university is behind in having such a program,” she said. “People have a lot of misconceptions about it, and that shows the need to have it. We need multiculturalism to deal with the reality of changing demographics in business, education, music, and art. It is necessary to helping us prepare for the future.”