University suddenly delays 'racial literacy' courses

Last month, the school announced it did not possess the ability to accommodate all students who needed to enroll in one of two courses for the new racial literacy general education requirement.

A letter condemning the decision was reportedly signed by over 200 professors and staff.

Virginia Commonwealth University is shelving its requirement of racial literacy courses to first-year students after determining it allegedly does not have the capacity to do so for the upcoming academic year.

“I am writing today to share that a new racial literacy requirement as a component of general education will not begin this year, so that we can provide the capacity necessary for student success,” VCU’s Interim Senior Provost for Academic Affairs Andrew Arroyo said in a statement on July 26. 

[RELATED: Georgetown University to add social justice emphasis to existing ‘diversity’ core requirement]

“This decision is not a referendum on current courses. It is about implementing a universitywide requirement. The two are separate matters,” he added.

According to VCU’s Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Fotis Sotiropoulos, the two courses, “Introduction to Race and Racism in the United States“ and “Reading Race,” will still be offered this year but will not be required for first-year students yet. Both classes will focus on systems of power and racial inequity.

“By extending the implementation of this requirement, we are creating an opportunity for VCU’s academic community to work together to scale our course capacity needs while ensuring that our students are not held responsible for courses they cannot access,” Arroyo also noted.

Several years after formally adopting a racial literacy requirement, the university is forced to backtrack its plan. The two courses would have partially fulfilled students’ general education class requirements.

After the decision from VCU, more than 200 faculty and staff reportedly signed a letter denouncing the decision. 

Professor Everett Carpenter was especially vocal in calling out the school.

“The faculty and administration approved the courses and suddenly we found out two weeks out, that ‘nope, we’re not going to do that,’” he said. “They’ve had three years to plan for this initiative. I think this is more of a crisis that has been created to justify the problem and their solution … than a real crisis.”

[RELATED: Cal Poly workshop tells teachers to ‘examine’ their ‘whiteness’]

He continued, “Given the fact that VCU is now a Minority Serving Institution with Richmond’s past, it’s important that our students understand that past. Many of the courses were all in African American studies or taught by underrepresented groups, so they’re the ones primarily impacted by this.”

In May, Campus Reform reported a similar instance at UConn in which students will be required to enroll in an “Anti-Black Racism” course as part of their degree requirements. Starting in 2024-2025, the course is designed to help students “be leaders in creating a more just and equitable world.”

Campus Reform has reached out to all relevant parties for comment. This article will be updated accordingly.