Students petition to update general education requirements

Posted on Mar 29 2017 - 8:01am by Slade Rand

A group of students are promoting a petition which requests the liberal arts program add a multicultural studies requirement to its core curriculum.

Despite being two months old, Students Against Social Injustice’s petition doubled the number of signatures Tuesday afternoon.

“We propose that UM liberal arts students be required to take 6-9 hours of multicultural courses, as well as an additional 12 hours of diversity-related extracurricular/volunteer hours,” SASI’s petition reads.

The petition points to a section of the UM Diversity Plan written by Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter as reason to support the additional requirements.

“Diversity is a hallmark of education and enriches the environment and experiences of all our campus constituents,” Vitter wrote in the plan.

SASI’s argument claims its suggested course requirements would reach the Diversity Plan’s goal to enhance “the overall curriculum by infusion of content that enhances multicultural awareness and understanding.”

Before noon on Tuesday, the petition had garnered fewer than than 25 signatures. By 6 p.m., the petition had doubled its number of supporters and nearly reached half of its 100-signature goal.

SASI’s petition has picked up alumni support as well, from Rebel graduates in Pontotoc and Memphis, Tennessee.

SASI member Makala McNeil signed the petition Tuesday and said she sees the petition as a way to unlock the university’s potential to achieve the Diversity Plan.

McNeil said integrating a multicultural studies requirement would play an instrumental part in institutionalizing inclusion at the university.

“We’d be doing students a disservice if after four years they leave the institution without exposure to the wide array of multicultural courses the institution offers,” McNeil said.

English major Skylar Sandroni wrote a comment on the petition along with her signature.

“I’m signing because I believe in an education that represents all people,” Sandroni wrote.

If its goal of 100 signatures is met, SASI will send its petition to Interim Provost Noel Wilkin.