About a year or two ago, Fresno State’s academic senate debated whether or not to eliminate the Multicultural/International requirement for students taking upper division general education.
Many different arguments were made for both sides of the issue. Many thought yet another general education requirement for upper division students was unnecessary, a view many still hold today. Some thought to do away with a requirement that promoted the idea of diversity was an attack on diversity itself, and proponents of this particular view were extremely vocal about retaining the requirement.
However, in the face of further budget cuts (however many semesters and rounds of budget cuts later), it’s important to look at ways of cutting costs that reflect the preferences and needs of Fresno State’s students. While a lot of graduation requirements set by the chancellor’s office are out of our campus’s administration’s hands, our professors and administrators need to do what they can to tailor the general education curriculum to what we students need. I propose looking at changing it up a little bit. Instead of eliminating the M/I requirement, let’s take it outside the classroom and into life outside the rigors of academia.
I’m not advocating a suppression of diversity. If I wanted to escape diversity, I would’ve left town to go to school. Fresno State reflects the diversity of the Central Valley, I still think it’s important for the school to require the students to engage in some kind of diverse experience. Why not take diversity outside the classroom and get real-world experience in it? If you’re a white-bred suburban kid (like me), why not go out and do community service in a poverty-stricken neighborhood of Fresno?
If you’re Hispanic, why not get involved in one of the Asian American clubs on campus? If you grew up going to church in Fresno’s beautiful Armenian Catholic cathedral downtown, why not join some kind of Muslim club on campus to get a feel for something different?
Mixing up student’s ethnic and cultural experiences isn’t something you can do in a classroom. While some classes are full of chatty students who have no problem discussing the differences between religions in the classroom, experiencing diversity, not talking about it, is the way to go.