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Student discussion groups debate whether the College should adopt mandatory study of U.S. minority cultures. Dean Dennis DeTurck helped lead the discussion, held in the Rodin Rooftop Lounge.

The new College of Arts and Sciences curriculum just premiered a few months ago, but some students are pushing for more changes.

Last night, about 50 students came to Rodin College House's Rooftop Lounge to discuss a proposed requirement that would mandate that College students study minority culture in the United States.

Faculty representatives from the Committee on Undergraduate Education, College Dean Dennis DeTurck and student representatives were on hand to help moderate the discussion.

The forum was sponsored by the College's Task Force on Cultural Diversity in the U.S.

The task force was created as a response to last December's student and faculty petition recommending that the College consider adding a U.S. Cultural Analysis Requirement to its curriculum.

At the time, the College had just voted to add a Cross-Cultural Analysis Requirement, which consists of courses on world cultures. The change was implemented for the Class of 2010.

Talk about requiring students to study American minority culture is not new, however; student advocates have been pushing USCAR for several years.

College senior and student representative to the task force Shakirah Simley stressed the importance of a requirement that would specifically address U.S. diversity.

"If you talk about the global, you have to talk about the local," said Simley, who is chairwoman of the United Minorities Council.

She emphasized, however, that the requirement would not be an attempt to "indoctrinate" political correctness.

The SAS faculty is still in the beginning stages of discussing the USCAR, according to DeTurck. If approved at a faculty vote this spring, the changes wouldn't take effect until the Class of 2012 arrives on campus, he said.

"It's academic time. It's only slightly faster than geological time."

However, both professors and students are conscious of the already complicated array of requirements College students must fulfill. For this reason, DeTurck said faculty envision the USCAR as an "overlay requirement." This means that students would be able to fulfill it with courses that also fulfill other requirements.

Student participants in the forum raised a variety of concerns, from the reasons for the potential requirement to the forms it might take if approved.

While diversity seemed important to students across the board, not everyone saw eye-to-eye on the need for another requirement.

"I agree with the goal - I just don't agree with the means," College sophomore Dan Rubin said. "You do most of your learning outside of the classroom. . Putting this into the curriculum isn't productive."

Some students suggested academically based community-service courses to fulfill the possible USCAR requirement, while others were in favor of historically based lectures. Some also questioned how willing students would be to explore cultures outside their own backgrounds.

For DeTurck, the range of ideas showed that "this can't possibly be a one-size-fits-all kind of thing."

DeTurck said he remains committed to considering the USCAR requirement and using students' suggestions from the forum. More than anything else, he said, an undergraduate curriculum reflects a university's priorities.

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