Student’s thoughts on Iowa State’s diversity learning outcomes

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Iowa State students voice their opinions as the university reconsiders their diversity learning outcomes.

Jack Mcclellan

Students at Iowa State voice their opinion on the university’s new diversity learning outcomes and its degree of control in its curriculum.

At Iowa State, students need a certain amount of diversity credits to graduate. In May of this year, Iowa State passed new learning outcomes for the curriculum behind diversity credits. The new guidelines require that students meet all four learning outcomes to graduate. The learning outcomes are:

  • Identify the experiences and contributions of underrepresented or marginalized groups and how they have shaped the history and culture of the United States

  • Understand the analytical concepts of culture, ethnicity, race, gender, sexuality and/or religion and be able to apply these concepts to an analysis of the United States

  • Analyze systemic oppression and personal prejudice and their impact on marginalized communities and the broader U.S. society

  • Evaluate important aspects of diversity, equity and inclusion so they can live, work and collaborate with others in the 21st century United States

In July, Iowa Senate passed HF 802, which banned mandatory diversity training on several defined concepts. Iowa State responded to HF 802 by making only three of the four new learning outcomes actually required, a decision which the Faculty Senate is now debating rescinding.

While not affecting the student body a great deal, the decision would signify Iowa State’s stance on HF 802 and determine the extent to which the university intends to implement HF 802 into its curriculum. 

One freshman majoring in biology, Tiffany Kabanuk, explained why she thought the four learning outcomes should be required.

“I think it’s really difficult to pick which three are the most important to teach out of the four, so in my opinion, I think it’s valuable to teach all four, and I feel like it should be allowed,” Kabanuk said.

Kabanuk continued to point out that despite Iowa State being a public university, the level of diversity here might demand more thorough diversity education. 

Another Iowa State student, a sophomore majoring in animal science, Connor Becker, explained his stance on the university’s decision to limit their diversity learning outcomes based on HF 802.

“Yeah, I think it should probably be up to the school to decide the curriculum that’s needed for these different classes,” Becker said. “We’ll definitely be missing out on some information if we’re missing one of [the learning outcomes].”

Another student, a freshman majoring in pre-biological/pre-medical illustration, Mike Dwamena, explained why he thought Iowa State should build its curriculum independent of government regulations like HF 802. 

“What the government wants is going to change each time,” Dwamena said. “Like right now, it’ll be [weaker learning outcomes], and then the next four years will be [stronger learning outcomes]. It’s like whatever the political party [decides], but if it’s just an institution, it’s going to be relatively the same.”

Dwamena pointed out that reshaping things such as curriculum or diversity learning outcomes based on the whims of an unsteady government could lead to constant changes in what people are taught. This leads us away from the universal understandings that allow us to grow.