Diversity dance class draws students' ire in Utah

DANC 1010, "Dance and Culture," fulfills a diversity-related general education requirement at Salt Lake Community College.

Students complain online that the professor "condemned my demographic" and "is extremely disrespectful."

The professor, Tess Boone, says she has only discussed "how SYSTEMS within the culture of the [U.S.] could be perceived and experienced."

Can students learn about diversity through dancing? According to one community college in Utah, they can, but students complain the professor is too hung up on race.

Salt Lake Community College (SLCC) requires that students take at least one diversity course that “critically [examines] the history, contributions of and challenges confronting diverse groups,” in order to complete their General Education (GE) requirements.

DANC 1010, "Dance and Culture," has students complaining on the professor rating site ratemyprofessor.com, where instructor Tess Boone—who is listed as teaching multiple dance courses at SLCC—was condemned for calling whites racist and making other unqualified claims.

“Tess is extremely disrespectful. With her, her opinion is the only right one and if you don't agree with her she does NOT like you,” posted one student.

“The first assignment basically condemned my demographic (white male). She will misdirect comments you make to align with her ideas,” wrote another.

Despite comments on the website alleging that Boone reprimanded white males, the professor says she never shamed students for being white.

“I NEVER said or even suggested that all whites are racist,” Boone wrote in an email to Campus Reform. “We look at how SYSTEMS within the culture of the United States could be perceived and experienced. I allow students to give their views, without imposing mine.”

Ronald Torres, one of Boone’s former students, says that other questionable content appears in SLCC’s DV courses and there is a marginal requirement for the diversity material covered in each class.

“My advisor basically told me that the curriculum for [the diversity] part of the class is the same [throughout all the courses],” Torres told Campus Reform.

Torres, who studies mechanical engineering at SLCC, received a D grade in Boone’s class, which he attributes to his rejection of Boone's views on white supremacy and racism. He complained about Boone’s teachings to the department chair while he was taking the course.

“I told them ‘racism has no boundaries...it is everyone’ [whites are not the only race capable of racism] and they looked at me like I was moron,” Torres told Campus Reform.

According to a brochure for the 2012-13 academic year, there are there are 35 courses within the six General Education Distribution categories at SLCC that are marked with a DV, which indicates that the class fills the diversity requirement, including “Conflict Management and Diversity,” “Photography and Diversity,” and “Psych-Race and Class Gender.”

SLCC did not comment to Campus Reform in time for publishing.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @MaggieLitCRO