Iowa State College Approves Compromise on Diversity Requirements

America’s diversity requirement for Iowa State University’s undergraduate degree has been evolving since the start of the year, when President Jonathan Wickert declined to approve a faculty-supported update. the requirement regarding concerns about state law prohibiting the compulsory teaching of “divisive concepts” on race and gender.

With this legislation now law in Iowa, the college’s faculty Senate executive council worked over the summer to put the updated diversity requirement back into play, in strict accordance with the law. The board plan, which nine members approved and two did not, did not involve rewriting the updated diversity requirements. Instead, he asked students to complete three of the four learning outcomes instead of the four as originally proposed.

Only one of the updated learning outcomes – analyzing systemic oppression and personal biases and their impact on marginalized communities and American society in general – potentially conflicted with the Concepts of Division Act. So the board’s workaround meant that students who had a problem with that particular outcome did not have to achieve it.

The compromise satisfies Wickert, the provost. But it proved controversial with the Senate as a whole once it became widely known this fall. Even though the council is authorized to act on behalf of the entire Senate when the Senate is not in session, some senators questioned the council’s right to make a decision of this magnitude on its own. Some felt that the compromise itself watered down the demand for diversity and hurt long-term students.

One of the board members, Annmarie Butler, Secretary of the Senate and Associate Professor of Philosophy and Religious Studies, ultimately brought forward a resolution calling for a vote to quash the three-out of four deal. After a lengthy discussion, the entire Senate voted 33 to 20 to uphold the deal and start implementing the new requirement.

Andrea Wheeler, President of the Senate and Associate Professor of Architecture, said: “It was an important question. The cancellation was not without controversy. People felt strong.

Now that the vote is over, she said, the Senate will work on a timeline and process to pass the requirements.

“Our Faculty Senate committees and councils underscore the importance of shared governance and the central role of cooperation in collegial decision-making,” Wheeler added. “Serving as a faculty senator is a very important commitment. “

Rob Schweers, spokesperson for the provost’s office, said Wickert initially refused to sign the updated requirements due to concerns about the new legislation as well as those related to student choice, course capacity and flexibility of professors establishing their course programs.

The board’s agreement helps address potential concerns about the legislation, Schweers continued, and “provides more choice for students to take courses that meet their individual needs or diversity gaps, equity and inclusion “. It also “improves the ability of students to complete their graduation requirements in a timely manner and provides greater flexibility for faculty to teach courses as they wish.”

Senators who voted to cancel, among other professors, however, are not happy with the deal and remain concerned about the demonstrated ability of the new Iowa law to affect the program.

David AM Peterson, professor of political science at Lucken, said that “the management of the whole process, in particular the invocation of the Iowa law on the concepts of division in the debate on the diversity requirement , has created real climate problems on campus “. Faculty members feel a “chilling effect because of our administration’s interpretation of the law.” I think it’s quite unfortunate and damaging to the morale of the teachers.

Brian Behnken, an associate professor of history who helped draft the initial four out of four diversity requirement, said he was speaking for himself and not for the university and that the Senate decision “was deeply disappointing. While some celebrate this decision as a victory, I see it as a step back from our commitment to diversity and the education of our student body. “

Revising America’s new diversity requirement “before it has even had a chance to be implemented sends the message that there is something wrong with our students’ education in life. diversity and only accentuates the crippling effect many faculty members have been feeling “since the law was passed, Behnken said.

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About Mark A. Tomlin

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