A public research university in Detroit has decided to no longer require students to take a math class in order to graduate, while at the same time faculty members continue to push for the creation of a “diversity” course.
Wayne State University, with an enrollment of around 27,000 students, will now let individual departments determine whether or not a math course is a necessary part of curriculum.
“We felt the math requirement was better left to the various programs and majors to decide and to decide what levels of mathematics would be needed,” Monica Brockmeyer, associate provost for student success, told the Free Press. “We still continue to support mathematics at Wayne State.”
Campus officials noted that the decision was made in part due to a feeling that the current math requirement, in which students must take one of three different math courses, asks students to complete a course at the same level required by most high school math departments, writes David Jesse for The Detroit Free Press.
Students were informed of the decision in an email from campus officials, who said that math would not be a requirement until fall 2018, or until the adoption of a new general education program by the university.
While the university looks over its general education curriculum, which is expected to continue into the fall, professors at the school are calling for the addition of a three-credit “diversity course” that would be a requirement for all students.
In a May 2016 memo written by the university’s General Education Reform Committee, the authors state that the courses would offer students the ability to examine diversity on a domestic level and to then consider how it applies to real world challenges on a local, national, and global scale, writes Jennifer Kabbany for The College Fix.
Not everyone approved of the decision. Ashley Thorne, the executive director of the National Association of Scholars, a group that supports liberal arts education and academic freedom, said that general education requirements were put in place in order to ensure that students learned what the college felt to be important information. She added that deciding to drop the math requirement shows that the school’s “leaders do not have their priorities straight.”
She went on to say that diversity is a concept, not an academic subject, and therefore is not a core part of the college curriculum.
“Focusing on individuals’ race, ethnicity, sex, and sexuality in this way has been demonstrated to lead to racial animus, segregation, stigmas, discrimination, and poor academic performance. It also politicizes education.”
The committee’s proposal also called for the creation of “quantitative experience courses.” While it is unclear whether the courses would replace the math requirement, the goal would be for them to help students better understand quantitative representations such as graphs and tables and to then use this information to communicate.
Of the 27,578 students enrolled in the school, 18%, or 4,881, are black. Meanwhile, 7%, or 2,057 are Asian, and 54%, or 15,004 students, are white.