Wayne State University Drops Math Requirement
The faculty at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan, had long called for a course in exploring and discussing diversity. And just this June 13, 2016, the university decided that math credits will no longer be required for students.
Wayne State University is one of the largest schools in Michigan. For years, all of the university students had to take at least one out of three math classes in order for them to graduate.
The school is not eliminating math courses in general. But math courses are no longer mandatory unless if math courses are part of the degree program.
Associate provost for student success, Monica Brockmeyer, told Free Press in an interview that “…the math requirement was better left to various programs and majors to decide and to decide what levels of math would be needed. We still continue to support mathematics.”
The committee handling Wayne State University’s education curriculum had released a proposal for a revised general education curriculum last May 2016.
Included in the proposal was the need to adopt or create courses that put emphasis on diversity, an issue which is central to “what is Distinctively Wayne State”.
The Proposal States
“… these course must also address one of the stated Diversity learning outcomes… which include Intercultural Knowledge and Competence, Global Learning, and Ethical Reasoning.”
The university wants to take a forward step in exploring diversity, while also encouraging students to take an elective in math.
One of the parents of an incoming freshman at the WSU expressed his agreement. “It does make sense to have different standards for different programs.
Engineers need a lot more math and different math than a social worker, I think.”
But not everyone thinks that the program without math requirement is beneficial to the students.
Ashley Thorne, director of the National Association of Scholars, had choice words for the Wayne State University administration and its education committee:
“Colleges and universities use general education requirements to ensure that students learn the subjects it deems most important. Wayne State University’s decision to drop math and add diversity to its requirements reveals that its leaders do not have their priorities straight.”
Thorne, in an email, went on to state that acquiring and developing mathematic skills is practical and academic. Diversity learning is not.
Thorne also thinks that discussing diversity this way will produce a negative effect – that it will lead to segregation, discrimination, and even poor academic performance, among others.
Although her view seems pessimistic, her fears are not baseless.
Several large universities across the country last year had pledged millions of dollars for more affirmative action and diversity learning, in the midst of events that spawned the Black Lives Matter movement that exploded on social media.
Social psychologists Jonathan Haidt and Lee Jussim, in a Wall Street Journal article, wrote that such an action would not achieve positive results.
The post states: “In fact, we think that they are likely to damage race relations and to make campus life more uncomfortable for everyone, particularly black students.”
Although Haidt and Jussim presented various psychological principles, they both noted that the current programs adopted by many colleges might not be up for the task.
There is no clear and singular solution to such social and political problems. Until then, WSU will carry on with their plan.
Math requirement will still be employed until the fall of 2018, or until a new education program is adopted.