Activists at U-M trying to force engineering students to study race and ethnicity

Robby Soave Reporter
Font Size:

To become a good engineer of business major, a student must first study the all-important subjects of race and ethnicity — at least according to student government leaders at the University of Michigan, who are working to extend the liberal arts college’s race requirements to all colleges of the university.

A proposal, drafted by members of the Central Student Government, aims to reform the requirement that all students in the College of Literature, Science and the Arts study race and ethnicity before graduation. Moving forward, all students–even those in the Colleges of Engineering and Business — would be forced to take a class with a racial component, if the proposal were approved by faculty.

Sagar Lathia, president of the LSA Student Government, which is separate from CSG, supports the change. He told The Michigan Daily that students studying business and economics had just as much reason to take R&E classes as their peers in LSA.

It would be helpful for economics students to study “poverty, inequality and labor through the scope of race,” he suggested.

Activists hope that any proposal approved by the administration would assert identity-based themes — such as gender, sexuality, immigration status, religion and race — as a core focus of the curriculum at each of the university’s colleges.

The proposal is support by the Black Student Union, a race-based activist group at UM that recently made news for presenting a list of demands to the university. Administrators immediately caved to group’s most costly demand: a $300,000 renovation of the campus’s multicultural center. (RELATED: UMich meets demands of black students who threatened ‘physical action’)

BSU activist Shayla Scales said the proposal was all about creating more diversity.

“I truly believe innovation lies in the crevices of diversity,” she said in a statement. “Making sure that we incorporate diversity in all of our thinking and the way that we see the world will only lead to innovation.”

Follow Robby on Twitter