Faculty to test diversity requirement

Starting this fall, UW students can be part of a test to see if a five-credit requirement in cultural and ethnic diversity can work at the University.

Proposals for an ethnic studies requirement have been bouncing around the UW since 1988. Three different plans have passed the Faculty Senate, only to be rejected by the entire faculty.

The difference this time is that the plan is a voluntary pilot program rather than a mandatory edict. A task force will oversee courses that will “focus on how U.S. society and its members influence and are influenced by race and other factors such as ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion and class.”

Women Studies Professor Shirley Yee, author of the latest proposal, said the requirement will “provide students with intellectual tools for understanding the ways in which such contemporary issues as race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion and class are constructed in society.”

The five-credit requirement would not increase the overall course load for undergraduates. While taking a diversity course, students could fulfill other graduation requirements with the same five credits.

When the pilot program ends in June 1995, the task force will draw up new rules. If these rules pass the senate, a five-credit requirement would come into effect in the fall of 1996.