At this week’s Georgetown University Student Association meeting, Senator Nick Troiano (COL ’11) objected to the Academic Diversity Working Group’s proposal requiring all students to take two courses on the grounds that “diversity can be fostered, [but] it can’t be mandated.” Criticisms such as his are disappointing, because they are a disingenuous and misleading way of describing the diversity requirement under consideration by the University.
Realistically, this new requirement will hardly burden the typical Georgetown student. As an overlay requirement, it does not necessarily force students to add another clAss to thier schedules. They can choose from approximately 30 classes, and many courses that a student is taking for his or her other requirements or major can count toward the diversity requirement.
By suggesting a requirement that will not add to the number of core requirements students must take, the proposal makes it clear that the working group understands that many students are already taking classes that expose them to diverse opinions and worldviews. Some students, however, inevitably fall through the cracks. Georgetown has the responsibility to make sure that students don’t neglect this vital element of their education.
If this new requirement is implemented, it is important that Georgetown works to expand the number of course offerings that will fulfill the requirement. While 30 classes per semester may seem at first glance like a sizeable number, given the eight semesters a typical student spends at Georgetown, students should not be compelled to choose between classes where they have a strong academic interest and classes to fulfill the new requirements.
Those who emphasize that the University is “making” students embrace diversity by signing up for a class, as if that were the end of the process, are also misreading the requirement’s intention. This is not a measure to “fix” the problem of bigotry at Georgetown, but rather one that will ensure that Georgetown students are exposed to diverse worldviews.
Yes, some students may find themselves enrolled in a class that they do not want to take. But a truly thorough and worthwhile education challenges students to think, discuss, and wrestle with subjects and viewpoints that take them outside their comfort zones. And at a university of Georgetown’s caliber, especially one that bills its core curriculum as “educating the whole person,” we shouldn’t demand anything less than that.