The English Department at the University of Chicago will only accept applicants who are interested in working in Black Studies, the University’s website says.
“The English department at the University of Chicago believes that Black Lives Matter, and that the lives of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and Rayshard Brooks matter, as do thousands of others named and unnamed who have been subject to police violence,” the statement begins.
“For the 2020-2021 graduate admissions cycle, the University of Chicago English Department is accepting only applicants interested in working in and with Black Studies.”
“English as a discipline has a long history of providing aesthetic rationalizations for colonization, exploitation, extraction, and anti-Blackness. Our discipline is responsible for developing hierarchies of cultural production that have contributed directly to social and systemic determinations of whose lives matter and why,” the statement continues.
The decision is part of the English Department’s mission to undo the “persistent, recalcitrant anti-Blackness in our discipline and in our institutions,” which “must be the collective responsibility of all faculty.”
A University spokesperson told the Caller that the requirement applies to PhD students in the English Department, and coronavirus pandemic restrictions also created limitations for accepting students.
“Like many graduate programs around the country, the English Department at the University of Chicago can accept a limited number of PhD graduate students in the 2020-21 application season due to the COVID-19 pandemic and limited employment opportunities for English PhDs,” the spokesperson said.
“Currently, there are 77 PhD students studying a wide variety of disciplines within the English Department, and the department is admitting 5 additional PhD students for 2021. The English department faculty saw a need for additional scholarship in Black Studies, and decided to focus doctoral admissions this year on prospective PhD students with an interest in working in and with Black Studies. As with other departments in the University, the department’s faculty will decide which areas of scholarship they wish to focus on for PhD admissions in future years.”
The statement appears to have been made in July 2020, amid national protests and riots that have often turned violent in many cities. Numerous other colleges across the country have reacted to the death of George Floyd in May by screening students with related application questions, or requiring classes on racism. The University of Minnesota Medical School application includes an optional question that asks students to share their “lessons learned” about “systemic racism” in the wake of George Floyd and Rayshard Brooks’s deaths. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: University Of Minnesota Medical School Application Features Question About George Floyd, Rayshard Brooks)
The University of Pittsburgh also announced that it would begin requiring its first-year students to take a course on anti-Black racism following letters and petitions.
“The course draws inspiration from the “anti-racist organizing” following the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and others in recent months. “It also seeks to examine the development, spread, and articulations of anti-Black racism in the United States and around the world. The course will grapple with three key areas of inquiry: the roots, ideology, and resistance to anti-Black racism,” a course description says.