WASHINGTON - Following several racially charged incidents on campus, American University is launching what they are calling a "plan for inclusive excellence."
The plan will cost the university $60 million in 2018 and require students to take a two-part course focusing on diversity and inclusion.
Some may think this class and initiative was created in response to the recent racially charged incidents on campus, but the university says the effort was in the works before those incidents occurred.
The goal is to focus on diversity, equity and inclusion. The plan was formed after analyzing survey data, hiring consultants and working with more than 1,000 faculty, staff, administrators, students and alumni.
American plans to spend over $60 million on the program, which they plan to launch the program this year. The majority will go to scholarships “aimed at increasing diversity and access" on campus.
"For those who may be skeptical, I think one of the things is for the students who participated," said American University Vice President of Campus Life Fanta Aw, Ph.D. "We've had students had from all different backgrounds who've participated. And it's not about getting students to be comfortable. It's actually about challenging students on their more core assumptions, and helping students to be critical thinkers and critical folks who can look at the world they're navigating. This course is not meant to make people feel comfortable. It's to challenge them intellectually and the environment they're in."
"Overall, just cultural competency. It's very important so I get to learn something about you that you just don't inherently know about me, so there's the mutual exchange. And then I do the same, I learn something really awesome that makes you, and it's a great experience," said one student.
Seven million dollars will go to fund academic initiatives like the American University's "experience courses" which includes two required classes for students and includes courses on privilege and bias, diversity, inclusion and free speech.
"I think we've had a lot of issues, not only with external people coming on campus, but also people on campus within clubs and organizations, so I think we would learn a lot on how to A, respond to these different kinds of incidents and also how to uphold other students because it has been a tough time," said a student.
"When I was in [the class] I thought 'this is not really something that I need' because like most people have common sense to not be offensive, but that was when I was a freshman so, being on campus two years I see that some people do need this and I think it is worth it," said another student.
UCLA and Hamilton College have instituted some form of diversity curriculum in their college campuses as well.