Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Sunday, January 20, 2019

Letter to the Editor: SG Candidates: Don’t forget the progress that has been made

We already have a mandatory class on diversity

With Student Government elections in full swing, it’s time to set the record straight on how to address issues of race and social identity on campus.

Over the past three years, AU has seen a transformation in how we broach the topics of race, diversity and inclusion. SG has played a significant role in this. As such, it is critical that our next SG president builds on the progress that has been made.

In the spring of 2015, a small group of students began advocating for a mandatory course that addressed issues of race, power and privilege, among other racial justice reforms. Now, that group of students is known as the Darkening, and the course, AU Experience II, is being piloted. Its full rollout is expected to occur during the 2018-2019 academic year, meaning that all first year students will be required to take this semester-long course, which addresses the intersectionality of race, privilege, power and social identity.

The job of the next SG president is to make sure the course continues to be supported, by students and the administration, as it develops for complete roll out. And the next SG president must stand with the folks who have been working diligently to address racial injustice on our campus and continue to support their efforts.

The role of the next SG president, however, is not to develop a new curriculum for an Eagle Summit workshop. As many of us - though clearly not all of us - understand, race and social identity are complex issues that deserve a great deal of attention. And that’s an understatement. A training at Eagle Summit, amongst all the chaos that is Eagle Summit, will do little, if anything at all, to give students “the opportunity to be introduced to new perspectives, intersectionality and to be educated about the challenges facing students that may have lived lives different from theirs,” as candidate Haley Lickstein states in her platform.

There are a lot of issues facing our campus, and I commend all candidates for their resiliency and leadership in aiming to address these issues. However, some approaches are misguided. And on the issue of racial justice, we can’t afford to be misguided. We have to get it right.

Nick Guthman is a senior in the School of Public Affairs. He was the 2015-2016 co-chair of The Darkening’s Education Committee and currently serves as a Teaching Assistant for the AUxII pilot course.

Never miss a story.

Get our weekly newsletter in your inbox.