UNM pushes for more diversity and inclusion themes in courses

Options include various courses focusing on racial, ethnic, and women’s studies.

The University of New Mexico requires that all undergraduate students fulfill a three-credit "diversity and inclusion" course requirement in order to graduate.

The University of New Mexico Division of Diversity and Inclusion will host an information session Monday aimed at encouraging faculty to adapt their courses to meet the school's general education diversity and inclusion requirement. 

"The workshop intends to help staff and faculty to become aware of the UNM Diversity requirement, learn how their course can meet the Diversity requirement and submission process, gain tools to integrate the Diversity curriculum framework into their course and be informed on current approved UNM Diversity courses," the July 30 announcement states.

In order to receive an undergraduate degree, UNM students are required to fulfill a “U.S. Global Diversity and Inclusion Undergraduate Requirement,” which has been in place since the 2014-2015 academic year. Students must choose from a list of three-credit courses, which the university says will help achieve a more inclusive campus environment.” 

Resident UNM students pay at least $328 per credit hour in tuition and fees, totaling a whopping $656 for a three-credit course. 

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“This requirement is to promote a broad-scale understanding of the culture, history or current circumstances of diverse groups of people who have experienced historic and/or contemporary inequitable treatment in the U.S. or in a global context,” according to the university.

Among the courses that satisfy the requirement are subjects such as “Introduction to Race Class and Ethnicity,” where students are taught “to notice the privilege and oppression at the core of U.S. society.”  Participants will “challenge the widely accepted assumption that we as a nation have moved beyond race and racism.”

Students can also fulfill this requirement by taking “Economics of Race and Gender,” where they will address questions such as “why do women earn less than men, and blacks less than whites?” and “How does marriage affect women’s decision to work?”   

Those interested in feminism and women’s studies will not have a hard time finding a course to fulfill UNM’s requirement, with 13 different women’s studies courses that meet the mark like “Population Policy and Politics,” in which students can learn about “policy tools designed to control population growth.” The “Transnational Feminisms” course also fits the bill. Students can earn their three diversity credits by examining “oppressions” with a focus on “colonization, imperialism, nationalism, global capitalism, and empire,” through various feminist lenses.

“The University of New Mexico's ‘U.S. & Global Diversity & Inclusion’ General Education Requirement is part of a national movement to impose social justice education on America's universities," National Association of Scholars Director of Research David Randall told Campus Reform. "This movement seeks to transform our universities into places that train social justice advocates to take political action to forward progressive causes, instead of places dedicated to the search for truth."

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“They also seek to make belief in social justice political causes the prerequisite for any intellectual inquiry,” Randall said, adding that UNM’s requirement “does grave harm to students, by substituting political activism for education. It also hurts New Mexico students and taxpayers, who are forced to divert millions of dollars and student hours to subsidize politicized education.”

Randall noted that the “Higher Learning Commission (HLC), which accredits New Mexico, requires (Standards 1.C, 3.B.4) universities to work for ‘diversity,’” and that this particular UNM requirement is meant to satisfy the HLC’s requirement. 

“But this is also a bureaucratic game,” Randall added, “by which UNM bureaucrats avoid responsibility for imposing diversity. The state government should challenge the HLC's diversity requirements, which work to turn New Mexico's education into political propaganda.”

In describing the requirement, UNM repeatedly points out that the requirement “double counts,” so that students can satisfy other program requirements with one of the diversity courses. The school notes that this means that students are not being forced to take extra courses.  

But the NAS president says that this “double counting” actually “steers students so that the first (and often only) course they take in an area will be a social justice education course,” and as a consequence, “most students will never know there is more to the Humanities or Social Science than social justice.”

“Double-counting also steers jobs toward social justice advocates,” Randall explained. “A required course has to be taught, and a diversity requirement...means [that] there's a teaching line reserved for a social justice advocate.”

“Double-counting means that UNM has a huge incentive only to hire humanities and social science professors who teach diversity courses,” he added. “The Diversity General Education Requirements means that, going forward, social justice advocates will have a huge advantage in getting hired in those academic divisions.”

Campus Reform reached out to the University of New Mexico for comment, but did not receive a response in time for publication.

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