By Peter Fricke, Campus Reform
The University of Southern California student government will soon vote on a resolution calling for a number of eye-popping diversity initiatives, such as requiring first-year students to take a course on diversity issues, instituting a racial quota system for admissions, and creating a $100 million scholarship fund for minority students.
The resolution, sponsored by student senator Sabrina Enriquez with support from 23 student organizations (almost all of which represent a specific national or ethnic group), was introduced to the Graduate and Undergraduate Student Governments (USG) earlier this week, and is scheduled for a vote in both chambers Tuesday night, according to The Daily Trojan. The presidents of both bodies are also listed as authors.
“Universities across the nation … are grappling with diversity, equity, and inclusion issues,” the resolution asserts, before going on to complain that while other schools “are proactively addressing these issues on their campuses through action plans … our university has failed to produce action plans to address issues of bias and discrimination.”
Noting that “students have provided live testimony of discrimination on campus,” it also claims that the existing systems for addressing diversity issues, such as the Bias Assessment Reporting form, “do not sufficiently address the problems marginalized students face on campus” because “students have reported not being taken seriously or dismissed when reporting their incidents of bias and discrimination.”
The resolution then outlines a list of policies designed to “effectively measure and improve the diversity, equity, and inclusion climate on USC’s campus relevant to ethnicity, gender and sexuality.”
First, the resolution calls on USC to hire a Vice President of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, stressing that they should have “experience and expertise in diversity and equity as well as inclusion.”
The Vice President would be responsible for devising and implementing “a strategic plan to improve the campus climate,” as well as for hiring a Vice Dean of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion to oversee admissions and faculty hiring at each of the university’s academic departments.
The Vice Deans would further be required to employ graduate assistant and undergraduate student workers “to advocate for diversity support and coordinate for inclusion programming,” and would also have to ensure that each school or department’s syllabus “include information on the resources available to students for reporting bias, discrimination, and Title IX violations as well as include a diversity, equity, and inclusion component (e.g., readings or lecture) to the course itself.”
Next, the resolution demands that USC “establish an endowed fund of $100 million for scholarships, fellowships, programming, and mentorships for both graduate and undergraduate students as well as tenured faculty positions from underrepresented backgrounds by 2025.”
It gives the same deadline for another proposed initiative, calling on the university to increase hiring and enrollment of “underrepresented populations” such that they “reflect national demographics” by 2025.
The resolution does not neglect to consider means of re-educating the student body, either, recommending mandatory training programs that would apply to every student at the school.
Student leaders, for instance—including student government representatives and the officers of student organizations—would be required to undergo “mandatory, yearly, in-person diversity and cultural competency training.”
So as not to overlook those who are not active in extracurricular activities, the resolution also calls for requiring all first-year students to complete a “Diversity Requirement” involving courses on either critical race theory or queer theory, and advocates for including diversity, equity, and inclusion training as part of USC’s freshman orientation.
Faculty, meanwhile, would be required to complete “recurring online diversity and cultural competency training … with an additional mandatory in-person workshop for questions and dialogue.”
The remainder of the wish list is more mundane, mainly consisting of requests for new and expanded resources such as a center for international students, a designated space for “directed dialogues,” and increased funding for Cultural Resource Centers.
Leesa Danzek, vice president of the USC College Republicans, told Campus Reform that while “few would discourage diversity on college campuses,” she considers the proposed resolution a poor approach to the issue.
“I am disappointed with this proposal put forth by the body that is supposedly there to represent me,” she said, calling the resolution “a money-spending, big government-style attempt to appeal to the personal vendetta of the USG president.
“Tuition is rapidly increasing, at rates students struggle to keep up with, and this $100 million proposal will ultimately result in a further tuition hike,” she predicted. “If USG truly wanted to increase diversity on campus, they would do more to help students of all backgrounds—ethnic and social—afford college, as well as encourage intellectual diversity.”
Student senator Jacob Ellenhorn echoed those sentiments, telling Campus Reform that, “[t]his bill is nuts!”
In addition to the $100 million scholarship fund and the hiring of additional administrators, both of which he believes will do little more than “add to the cost that is going to be passed on to students,” Ellenhorn said one of his strongest objections is to the racial quota component of the resolution.
“It works against the Asian student population, because they’re overrepresented on college campuses,” he pointed out, adding, “[w]e shouldn’t be judging people on the color of their skin or where they come from.”
Although several Asian student organizations are listed as authors or supporters of the legislation, Ellenhorn said that when he raised the issue during a conversation Wednesday with leaders of the International Student Assembly, which represents a large number of Asian students on campus, “they were deeply disturbed, saying they had never even heard about that provision.”
The issue has personal significance for him, as well, Ellenhorn continued, explaining, “I’m Jewish, and when my grandfather was here, he was one of three Jews because they had a quota system at that time and they didn’t want Jews to be overrepresented.”
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