Graphic by Ali Levens
Pepperdine plans to reform the General Education core curriculum in fall 2023, removing some requirements and implementing a diversity course. With this new curriculum could come a new student experience, and students have strong opinions on how and what changes should be made.
A Nov. 4 Graphic survey of 66 students found 92% of respondents said they would like to see a new core curriculum with fewer GE requirements, and 67% believe there should be a diversity requirement in the GE curriculum.
Students said they see these potential changes as an opportunity for University administrators to show they are listening to students’ needs.
“It is far more important for a college campus nowadays to address diversity and inclusion in their core curriculum,” sophomore Pinn Jinkaojai wrote. “Our GEs are important and shape what Pepperdine expects from students because they serve as the backbone of our higher education journey. We need to allocate our priorities better in the University’s GE curriculum.”
Survey respondents comprised the following: 17% first-years, 50% sophomores, 26% juniors and 7% seniors.
Additionally, 62% of surveyed students said they would like the diversity GE to offer a list of courses to choose from to fulfill the requirement, while 20% said they would prefer one course everyone takes, and 17% chose neither.
“It can be like a lab science where you have one that is an actual lecture and students are taught the facts, and then the lab portion that is just 45 minutes, where students can come together and just talk about whatever issue that class is covering,” senior Clara Fermanian wrote in the survey.
Some students wrote there should be no diversity requirement because they either believe their existing GE courses already teach about diversity or it is not an important issue to cover in required classes.
“Acceptance of diversity comes with age, when the perspective changes from black and white to gray,” junior Conor Kramer wrote. “Acceptance should not be forced. History will tell that when acceptance is forced, tension is created, so it doesn’t fix the underlying issue.”
Commonly, students wrote a diversity course should teach about past and present inequities, despite how uncomfortable the conversation might become.
“We should be learning about relevant and pressing issues like race that affect our daily lives and the way we see the world and each other,” sophomore Eunice Sim wrote. “In general, it is good to address our biases and learn true history instead of the one we grew up with.”
The majority of students wrote they believe it would be beneficial to remove or reduce the religion requirement. Jinkaojai wrote Religion GEs in particular go against the University’s mission of inclusivity.
“Pepperdine must acknowledge that not all students are entirely the same,” Jinkaojai wrote. “Expecting students from different faiths and cultures to set nine-plus credits for mandatory GEs that are specific to only Pepperdine does not make sense if one of our education goals is to be more inclusive and diverse.”
Of students polled, 88% said if they did not have as many GE classes, they would fill their extra time with another minor. Meanwhile, 61% said they would take on another major, but the remaining 39% percent wrote they would rather enjoy a lighter course load.
“It would be easier for me to fit a minor into things,” sophomore Marinna Grijalva wrote. “Because currently, I have taken nothing less than 16 units every semester, and I still will have one GE left by the time I graduate, meaning I will need to do a summer class.”
International student and sophomore Gabby Velasco wrote she feels personally impacted by the course model at Pepperdine only focusing on U.S. history.
“Since Pepperdine is striving to be a more diverse University, welcoming all different ethnic backgrounds, I feel it is important to create more GE programs where international students can take a class they are more interested in rather than forcing them to follow the U.S. standard programs,” Velasco wrote.
Students have mixed opinions over Humanities requirements — some said these courses teach topics of diversity; 68% of surveyed students, however, said they do not feel HUM 111, 212 and 313 should remain as required GEs, while 32% said otherwise.
“As an African American, I understand why people want to get rid of these classes, but I also think they’re just as important as other electives on diversity,” sophomore Jackie Ferrari wrote. “We can’t change the course of history and where it started, and it’s still important to learn the material the humanities classes cover before branching out and learning about more diverse perspectives of history.”
The proposal from the GE Review Committee removes the first-year seminar requirement, yet 71% of students polled said the first-year seminar should remain a GE.
“It is beneficial to have a course that is both a class as well as a resource for the transition into college,” sophomore Aoife Picadio wrote.
With deliberation over proposed changes to the GE curriculum happening throughout the fall 2021 semester, students are eager for their voices to be heard, survey participants wrote. Some wrote they feel the GE requirements interfere with their ability to explore other interests and that transforming the curriculum has the potential to transform their futures.
“It would be beneficial if students were able to see the proposals at hand and maybe even have a student committee that represented the voices and thoughts of the student body,” Sim wrote.
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