Diversity courses need ‘major overhaul,’ says campus survey

After analyzing the results from last fall’s Campus Experience Survey and one year’s worth of research, Halualani & Associates presented its findings Feb. 20.Rona Halualani, founder and principal of Halualani & Associates, recommended a “major rehaul” of the American Diversity and Global Perspectives general education requirements.

The courses offered at Whitworth do not “capture cultures in interaction with one another, and more specifically, historical understandings and foundations of cultures,” Halualani said. Diversity-related courses predominantly focus on one culture and are language-focused.

In the Campus Experience Survey, students, faculty and staff expressed a greater desire for attention on ethnic, sexual orientation and gender differences. Students reported accessibility issues; a very low number of students know who to contact for various issues. Students also expressed a lack of understanding for diversity studies.

“They don’t understand why it’s important, or why it’s required — why it matters,” Halualani said.

The Intercultural Affairs office will utilize this information to initiate change as soon as possible, Assistant Dean of Intercultural Affairs Esther Louie said.

“What I am really afraid of is putting this on a shelf. And with the economic budget considerations on campus, it will be easier to say ‘We have bigger fish to fry.’” Louie said.

The project is divided into three main categories: campus diversity mapping, general education diversity requirements and campus climate. Halualani & Associates viewed more than 500 documents and artifacts: syllabi, assignments, student reflections and lesson plans.

The research team then administered the Whitworth University Campus Experience Survey. Response levels on the survey were high, with 47 percent of faculty responding, 67 percent of staff and 21 percent of students responding.

Taylor Oddino Staff Writer