New Course Requirement: a Benefit, Burden, or Both?


It's a rare privilege for a first-year to appear in the school paper during his/her first week at college, and I was greatly honored to be interviewed for the article on the new Privilege, Power and Diversity requirement for last week's edition. I felt, however, that what I was trying to say didn't come across as clearly in the article as I had hoped. While it may have appeared that I am in full favor of this new requirement, I actually have much more neutral, perhaps even negative feelings towards it.

I am not against learning about and participating in diversity, in fact, I think it is probably increasingly crucial in the job market and business world. It's just that DePauw offers and even requires so many other courses relating to other cultures that to require a PPD course seems redundant. For example, by the time the class of 2020 has graduated, we will have taken an Arts/Humanities course, a Social Science course, two Language courses (or the high school equivalent), an International Experience course, and now a Privilege, Power and Diversity course. That’s a lot of culture.

To boot, DePauw is ranked number four in the country for percentage of students who study abroad: approximately 20 percent of students in the 2013-2014 school year. That number may even be expected to rise since the fee for study abroad programs has recently dropped. Thus my quote from last week’s edition: "With or without the requirement, I think DePauw students will be exposed to diversity and other cultures."

While this new requirement may not seem like a big deal to those in humanities-related majors, those interested in biology, economics, and even undeclared now have one less free credit to devote to discovering and developing their passion and potential career. I do think there will be benefits that come from taking a PPD class, but I think there would probably be benefits to taking just about any course at DePauw.

I thought Mike Amato, a student who writes for Connecticut College’s The College Voice, sums my argument up nicely: “We do not come to college to broaden our knowledge of everything, even if this is a nice thing to do. College is for gaining real life experience, growth, and interest in something that matters to us.” (emphasis mine)

DePauw often bills itself as a great place to explore subject areas, majors, and potential careers. While I am thankful for the variety in courses offered here, let’s not restrain students’ ability to explore any further by lengthening the course requirements list.

Once again, thank you to The DePauw for being willing to host my views and put up with me. I greatly appreciate it.