This past Tuesday, March 28, Rowan students, faculty and staff met in the Business Hall and via Zoom to discuss a new senate resolution that proposed a new Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) Studies class requirement for students.
If the resolution is passed, a BIPOC Studies designation will be added to the Rowan Experience requirement in order to graduate. This will be in addition to current Rowan Experience attributes, which are Broad-Based Literature (LIT), Rowan Seminar (RS) and Writing Intensive (WI). Students would be allowed to double count these courses with Rowan Core or other classes, so it would not require additional coursework or credits.
The resolution passed its first university senate hearing and is now getting ready for the second round. It also needs to develop an official proposal. If everything gets approved, students could start being required to take these classes as early as fall 2024.
The proposal has been in the works for over a year after demand No. 10 from Rowan’s Black Student Union (BSU), which asked the university for better education when it comes to race and racism. The demand states that they want to “Have all students take a class pertaining to Black diaspora,” or the spread of people from their original homeland, according to Rowan BSU’s Instagram.
The new proposal would ensure that students take a class before graduation from a designated BIPOC Studies course. By completing the class students can fulfill the requirements for the Rowan Experience designation as well as a Rowan Core or degree requirement. There would be classes on Black communities, as well as Latinx, Asian American and Native American history and culture. Professors would be specialized in these areas of study.
This is not a completely new idea, as other universities like Stockton and Temple have similar requirements to this one.
“Our proposal reflects a growing school to remain regionally competitive while being responsive to the needs of our students,” said Chanelle Rose, an associate professor at Rowan who also serves on the Black Diaspora Taskforce.
Students also feel like this proposal is an important way to mitigate some of the racial tension that can take place on campus. Rowan has had several instances of racial violence and aggression on campus including the recent racial slur vandalism that took place in Holly Pointe during the beginning of the fall 2022 semester.
Michael Nash, the vice president of the BSU, noted at the Town Hall meeting that having a more diverse education on campus would allow students to better understand their peers.
“You know, we’re all here connected so I think that this would have helped some of the incidents that have happened over time. A lot of times a lot of these instances happen out of pure ignorance,” Nash said.
Some students also believe that this new class requirement could inspire students to take what they learn and bring it to other classes and other areas of their learning experience. Nia McCombs, a sophomore who majors in English and minors in Africana Studies, feels that the new requirement would benefit students across disciplines.
“I’m an English major. So I feel like other English majors who aren’t people of color, if they were to take classes like this, they could bring that into the English major as well. So if they wanted to create change in the curriculum we do, a lot of times we don’t see Black writers or writers of color, so they could, you know, go to English administrators and ask for that,” McCombs said.
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