posted on: Thursday April 15, 2010
Meghan Conway ’12 / News Staff
Diversifying the core curriculum is the goal of five students who chose this issue as their Introduction to Black Studies activism project. Leah Glass ’11, Jesse Sheinhite ’10, Isaac Chacon ’11, Jessica Clark ’10, and Michael Olatunde ’13 researched the issue of diversity within the curriculum by interviewing students, exploring the diversity of other religiously affiliated universities, and holding an open forum to discuss the matter.The group’s mission is to make the College’s community more aware of the lack of academic diversity on campus and to make strides towards implementing more culturally diverse classes into the set of courses offered at PC.”In our course, we talked about how education here isn’t interdisciplinary,” said Sheinhite. “Our main aim is to bring about more awareness of this issue and bring it to the forefront. To facilitate this issue we decided to do a discussion forum.”Prior to the discussion forum, the group interviewed 15 students in Raymond Hall Cafeteria about diversity within the curriculum. They asked them about how it impacted their decision to come to the College, if they want more diversity, and if they would support more diversity. They attempted to interview a wide variety of students as well.”I would say overall there was a lack of understanding of diversity or that people hadn’t thought about it much,” said Sheinhite. “It seemed that the people of color that we interviewed had definitely thought about the issue more.”Glass agreed that the interviews proved the ignorance of students on the topic of diversity.”The interviews showed us how little they care about diversity and how little it affects such a big decision like college,” said Glass. “Everyone said they would be in support of it, but none of them seemed that energetic about it.”The discussion forum was held on March 25 and was moderated by Cedric de Leon, Ph.D., of the Department of Sociology.”I was encouraged to watch students take ownership of their education,” said de Leon. “Whenever that happens, wherever that happens, it makes for a more democratic and vibrant civil society.”Eric Hirsch, Ph.D., of the Department of Sociology, was also present and discussed the proposed changes to the Development of Western Civilization program by the faculty senate.”At the forum, we played the video interviews to get other students reactions,” said Sheinhite. “We discussed the idea of adding a cultural core or diversity core, how we would go about doing this, and the need for more faculty of color at PC.”The group provided forum participants with an informational handout which included descriptions of different diversity cores at small Jesuit colleges on the East Coast such as Fairfield University, College of the Holy Cross, Boston College, and Loyola University Maryland.”I think the students who came to the forum already had an idea of the lack of diversity in the curriculum, but it was a great place for discussion,” said Glass. “We provided a specific place for a specific discussion where people felt comfortable saying how they felt.”The group is in the process of planning a protest against the current DWC program and the lack of diversity in the curriculum as part of their activism project.