Women studies class requirement outdated

Class registration for spring semester has come to a close, indicating that the year has reached the halfway mark. For seniors, the final semester means completing requirements for their majors, or spending their remaining credit hours with free electives so they can graduate. This can be more complicated than it looks for certain students, because requirements vary from major to major.

For example, liberal arts students are required to complete a series of fine arts and diversity requirements before graduation. Essentially, liberal arts students need to take two of the following: a course in “women’s studies” (such as women in science and technology or literature classes about female writers), a class in “ethnic and minority experiences in the United States” and a course which emphasizes the “culture, economics, politics or ecology of societies and nations other than those of Europe and the United States,” according to the University’s academic website.

At a school where 51 percent of the students are female, why would women’s studies still be considered as fulfilling a diversity requirement? Lumping women writers under the heading of “diversity” seems outdated in a time and place where women’s rights have long been established.

Although requiring students to take a class in women’s studies certainly exposes them to the accomplishments of women, it inadvertently presents women as a problematic minority group, rather than positioning their works in a course that students would take voluntarily.

Furthermore, if women’s place in the world is still a pending “issue” today, the entire student body should be required to take such classes to be more informed. Yet that, too, is not the case. Commerce and Finance, Nursing and Engineering majors are not required to take two diversity requirements. Although the three aforementioned majors are working on more specific subject matter than liberal arts majors, consistency with the diversity requirement would help unify the student curriculum.

In addition, it seems unfair that study-abroad courses do not fulfill the diversity requirement under the heading of “culture, economics, politics or ecology of societies.” Instead, Irish studies and foreign languages are factored into a student’s audit as free electives or are counted towards a major. Whether a course is considered a “diversity” requirement is often based on the whim of that particular department and is also, in many cases, subjectively approved.

So the lesson is, before assuming that your classes are factored into the audit in ways that seem reasonable to you, consult your advisor or the University’s academic website to make sure all your requirements are fulfilled by the time of graduation. And think about it before the second semester of your senior year.