CCSGA Weekly – Not Just a Graduation Checklist: Maintaining Interdisciplinary Perspectives Within the Block

By  NAN ELPERS ’20

Vice President of Internal Affairs

Two dozen students gathered in McHugh Commons on Feb. 25, marking the first of a series of specialized consultations over the course of Block 6 in which students will continue to voice their opinions on the curriculum overhaul. The all-college Curriculum Executive Committee was put together to address longstanding concerns students have had about the effectiveness of our general education curriculum, specifically after the infamous West-In-Time credit was abolished last year. 

The Monday night consultation was an invite-only, students-only dinner hosted by the student members of the CEC as well as the Colorado College Student Government Association’s Inclusion Committee. External Review specialist Dr. Nana Osei-Kofi of Oregon State University fielded a series of concerns and hopes from students about the new general education requirement timeline being amended and voted upon by the faculty this year.  

The ideas in this article are paraphrased from the students in attendance on Monday, including but not limited to members of the Black Student Union, Native American Student Union, international student community, and several candidates for the upcoming CCSGA Executive and Student Trustee elections. Areas debated included the Global Cultures (G) and Social Inequalities (S) requirements, the question of integration of ideas across classes, and the challenge of when to introduce issues of racial and cultural inequality to students.

The gist of the discussion about revising our G and S credits established that we need to address both white U.S. colonialism within the States and imperialism in countries abroad. Members from NASU stressed the need for early discussion of settler colonialism — colonialism that decimates Indigenous Peoples to replace them with foreign settler societies that gain dominance over time — as a foundation for the revised S credit, which is intended to address inequalities within the U.S., including the slaughter of Native peoples and the enslavement of African peoples. 

In terms of imperialism, several members of our international student body stressed the need for white students to be educated in the violent and abrupt ways in which international students are often raced for the first time in their lives upon matriculating. Another attendee argued that U.S. students will be better served in studying U.S. invasions into foreign countries than in studying the social inequalities existing in other countries outside the realm of U.S. involvement. 

One student suggested that each major should teach a class reflecting critically upon issues of race and gender within its field, jumpstarting a discussion about the degree to which integration of topics is helpful. One student urged against extreme interdisciplinary methods and offered, tongue-in-cheek, that a discussion of gender inequity hardly fit into eyeball dissection during a human anatomy course. While the tedious uncovering of the optic nerve is perhaps too consuming to entertain a simultaneous discussion of inequality, I think it is important to note that Colorado College has a particular challenge of encouraging students to integrate classwork when we take only one class at a time. 

Along these lines, the students in attendance debated the optimal timing for the S and G equivalent courses. Because we can only mandate two courses strictly engaging in critical racial studies, one student offered, it’s important that white students are not allowed to consider racial and socioeconomic issues in the first two months of their first year (if taken during FYE) and then forget about our Native, international, and students of colors’ daily lived experiences on this campus for the remainder of their undergraduate experiences. One proffered solution would be to introduce language and issues within critical race studies into the online courses first-years take before arriving on campus. Relatedly, it’s important that student orientation gives race its own place in discussion rather than introducing it as an addendum to Title IX and other central topics covered. 

If you have ideas for the curriculum overhaul, please send them to ccsga@coloradocollege.edu  

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