The Daily Illini

Academic Senate approves general education requirement for U.S. Minority courses


Students will soon be required to take another general education course in order to graduate.

Monday, the Academic Senate approved the requirement for every student to take a U.S. Minority course, beginning with students starting school in 2018.

The approval of the bill came after about an hour-long open discussion between students, committee members and other members of the campus community. It was one of the main debates during the meeting.

A big thing about this proposal is that it touches on a lot of the larger issues within the general education requirements, said Bettina Francis, head of the senate committee on educational policy.

In the past, the U.S. Minority and Non-Western classes have been lumped in the same course requirement. This proposal will separate the two and make U.S. Minority classes mandatory.

Members of the Senate Committee for Educational Policy, SCEP, have been debating and addressing the bill for a few months. Steve Michael, committee member, was opposed the bill, claiming it would cost two million dollars to hire the anticipated amount of TAs. He also mentioned the possibility of this general education requirement extending the road to graduation for some majors.

“I urge to vote against this proposal, the costs are too high,” Michael said. “The costs are very, very real.”

Charles Tucker, vice provost for undergraduate education, said this general education requirement will only cost $500,000 to implement.

Tucker also brought up the idea of “double-dipping,” or rather “dual certification” as Chancellor Wilson established throughout the meeting.

“Students can learn more than one thing in a course,” Tucker said. “I don’t believe it will be a problem.”

Francis said about the proposal that many departments can benefit it, and that the course line is not as some expected.

“There are numerous departments that shown interest in teaching these courses. Many of them have classes not filled to capacity, and a good deal of the teaching will be taken up in that,” Francis said. “This is not a purely ethnic studies department, it’s not even a purely LAS side of courses.”

“There’s no question racial and ethnic studies are needed,” Shawn Gordon, SCEP member, said. “Not only because it’s not very well-covered in secondary education but because dealing with society’s problems of bias, intolerance and ignorance we need the knowledge in order to combat that.”

Common points brought up by students at the meeting were recent acts of vandalism involving Swastikas, the chalkings in front of the Department of Latino/Latina studies buildings and the Gender and Women’s Studies building as well as the creation of several Facebook pages targeted at specific minority groups.

Vanessa Garcia, sophomore in LAS, said that topics about U.S. Minority Cultures, ranging from race, religion and sexuality, are essential and creating a better sense of them among students is important.

She said, “Providing this education will allow these cultures to no longer be omitted from the common education.”

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