Community college to require diversity course for graduation

Starting in Fall 2018, Wenatchee Valley College students who wish to transfer their credits to a four-year institution will first have to complete at least one five-credit diversity course.

The school has devised six "standards" for the diversity courses, such as emphasizing "intersectionality" and teaching students about "power and privilege."

Students at a community college in Washington state will soon be required to complete a diversity-related course in order to graduate.

Starting in Fall 2018, Wenatchee Valley College will be instituting a “Diversity Requirement for Graduation” mandating that every student seeking a “Direct Transfer Agreement” Associate Degree must complete at least one five-credit diversity course before going on to complete a bachelor’s degree at a four-year institution.

A preliminary list of courses that fulfill the diversity requirement includes an Anthropology course on "Plateau Native Peoples," Sociology courses on gender and race, three "Chicano/a Studies" courses, and history courses examining "Eastern World History" and "History of the First Peoples of the Plateau Region."

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According to the school’s website, the course was implemented to help students become “aware of the role we can play in educating our students for participation in a multicultural world.”

The requirement comes with “six standards” for learning objectives, starting with helping students to develop “an understanding of race and racism in the U.S. while also exploring the meaning of power and privilege, along with historical patterns, marginalization, and demographics of American society in terms of race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, ability, and class differences.”

Other standards call for “self-reflection by students regarding one’s own personal identities, biases, and personal prejudices;” explaining the impact of international issues on U.S. culture, and “exploring how race, class, gender, and other categories of difference...intersect with one another and are shaped by power, privilege, and systemic discrimination.”

In addition, the diversity courses are expected to explain the nature of “systemic discrimination,” as well as analyze and critique “public policies that affect various groups of people in different ways.”

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Erin Tofte, Wenatchee’s director of diversity and inclusion, stressed the importance of the requirement based on the school’s demographics.

“We have instituted this requirement as we live in a very diverse area with 55% of our students being students of color,” she told Campus Reform. “We feel it is important that all of our students are comfortable living, learning, and working in multicultural environments and we want to equip them with the tools to thrive in every situation.”

She went on to say that by “equipping” students to work well with people from a variety of “background, cultures, genders, and socio-economic status, they will be more prepared when they enter the workforce.”

“Knowledge and understanding will create more well-rounded graduates,” Tofte contended. “Our requirement should not add any extra time or work for our students as this requirement can be fulfilled in conjunction with our other requirements for graduation.”

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