Students at the State University of New York are now required to take classes on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Social Justice.
— New York Post (@nypost) February 1, 2023
The school told incoming freshmen seeking a bachelor’s degree at its 64 colleges that the courses are mandatory starting this fall. As stated in documents, students are required to “describe the historical and contemporary societal factors that shape the development of individual and group identity involving race, class, and gender.”
Students taking the courses are also expected to analyze the role of social structures and systems in relation to “the creation and perpetuation of the dynamics of power, privilege, oppression, and opportunity.”
The move comes amid culture wars in the U.S. over diversity and inclusion. It also comes amid debates over the appropriateness of teaching critical race theory in schools.
The decision has sparked fury in many, including the school’s professors. Political science professor at SUNY’s Suffolk Community College Nicholas Giordano called the move “nuts.”
“SUNY is one of the best university systems in the country. Why are they doing this?!” he wondered in a conversation with The Post.
Giordano is worried the DEISJ coursework would only portray the United States as “inherently racist.” From where he stands, the course would be pitting people against each other by defining them by the color of their skin.
“To tell [minority students] they can’t compete with a white person is insulting and racist,” he added.
Standing in defense of the curriculum is Chancellor John King, who touted it as a means of closing racial equity gaps and ensuring that diversity prevails in the school.
“Exposure to, and understanding of, diversity is essential to success in our modern society and economy,” he said in a statement.
“By recognizing and celebrating our diversity and fostering respectful dialogue and debate, SUNY provides students with the world-class education they deserve,” he added.
While the school is trying to sell the social justice course as a way to promote tolerance and equity in the school system, critics only see yet another attempt by an organization to embrace woke ideologies. Giordano also thinks so, as he says, “DEISJ is a cultural movement, not based on academics. Unfortunately SUNY responded to the mob.”
SUNY mandates ‘Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Social Justice’ course. If you don’t take it, you can’t graduate. https://t.co/i3L1wisbRc
— Ian Miles Cheong (@stillgray) February 1, 2023
State Conservative Party chairman Jerry Kassar compared the course to a critical race theory class. “This is a woke, left wing agenda,” he told the Post as he said the introduction is “disturbing” and “dangerous.”
Like Giordano, Kassar believes the coursework gives the impression that everybody is racially prejudiced.
The SUNY Board of Trustees passed the resolution for the social justice course in November 2021. Fresh students seeking an associates degree are exempted until the fall of 2024.