By Derek Draplin of Michigan Capitol Confidential
A faculty committee has proposed adding a three credit hours requirement in diversity to the general education curriculum at Wayne State University. It also recommended that WSU drop its university-wide requirement in mathematics, an idea that was carried out on June 13.
“We are proposing the creation of specific ‘Diversity’ courses, with students required to take one course in this designation,” said a document from the General Education Reform Committee, which is recalibrating what the university will expect from all students who earn a degree from the state university. It released the proposal in May.
The committee report said, “These courses will provide opportunities for students to explore diversity at the domestic level and consider the ways in which it intersects with real world challenges at the local, national and/or global level.”
In announcing the change in mathematics, the university said, "This decision was made largely because the current (math) requirement is at a level already required by most high school mathematics curriculum."
Committee co-chair Monica Brockmeyer told the Detroit Free Press, “We felt the math requirement was better left to the various programs and majors to decide and to decide what levels of mathematics would be needed.” She added, “We still continue to support mathematics at Wayne State.” The university has announced that the math requirement in the general education curriculum will be dropped until 2018, or until it is replaced by a new program.
Ashley Thorne, the executive director of the National Association of Scholars, which promotes liberal arts education and academic freedom, was critical of the recommendations.
“Colleges and universities use general education requirements to ensure that students learn the subjects it deems most important,” Thorne said in an email. “Wayne State University’s decision to drop math and add diversity to its requirements reveals that its leaders do not have their priorities straight.”
“Mathematical ability is an objective and practical skill that will serve students the rest of their lives, which is why it has traditionally been a core part of college curricula. ‘Diversity’ is not an academic subject. It is a concept invented to classify people by their social identities,” she said. “Focusing on individuals’ race, ethnicity, sex, and sexuality in this way has been demonstrated to lead to racial animus, segregation, stigmas, discrimination, and poor academic performance. It also politicizes education.”
The College Fix first reported on the diversity requirement. Brockmeyer, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment, made $176,760 in 2015 in her job as the associate provost for academic success.
The committee’s proposal for the new curriculum recommended replacing the math requirement with a quantitative requirement and creating “quantitative experience courses.” It’s unclear if the quantitative courses will replace the math requirement. The goal of those courses, according to the committee, would be for students to develop "the ability to interpret quantitative representations of information (such as graphs and tables), and the ability to use quantitative information to communicate in a purposeful way."
According to the most recent information released by WSU about its demographics, 27,578 students are enrolled. Black students make up the largest minority, at 4,881 students, or approximately 18 percent of the student body. The 2,057 Asian students represent 7 percent. There are 15,004 white students, making up 54 percent of the student body.