Faculty Senate on sociology course removal from core curriculum, diversity programs defunded amidst state regulations

sociology courseMargi Rentis | Via FIU Flickr

Maria Matos | Contributing Writer

FIU’s Faculty Senate confirmed the removal of sociology from the core curriculum, along with a reorganization of the Division of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion programs, due to recent state regulations. 

In the Feb. 13 meeting, faculty senator David Chatfield verified that the amendment to the 8.005 general education course options, as well as the 9.016 prohibited expenditures regulation, are now both active at FIU. 

What this means is that Introduction to Sociology, while available, no longer counts as a general education core course under the social science category. The requirement will be replaced with a history course. And, under budget regulations, the DEI can no longer exist with state or federal funding. 

“The horses left the gate, and so our attention needs to shift from lobbying to ameliorating the impact of these regulations on our university,” said Chatfield. 

These changes seem to come as part of Florida’s Board of Governors “anti-W.O.K.E” act, whose trajectory began in early 2022 as one of DeSantis’ education initiatives. As a public Florida university, FIU is required to adhere to these provisions. 

However, this does not mean that student activism or engagement will disappear from campus. 

“The regulation does not allow state funds to be used to support, maintain, or promote programs or activities that advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion or promote or engage in political or social activism,” Provost Elizabeth Bejar clarified.

“It does provide for student activity fees to be used for certain things.” Despite these regulatory changes, student organizations focused on celebrating and advocating for minority students, such as the Black Student Union, will still exist.”

Several faculty senators expressed concerns about what this could mean for in-classroom censorship but were assured that BOG influence has not yet reached a stage to influence what goes on in the classroom, despite the guidelines being set in place. 

In spite of these changes, the senate passed motions to approve several courses for the Global Learning certification, such as ‘Women’s Voices under Attack (WST 4xxx)’ and ‘Health Disparities: Gender, Race, Class (WST4703)’.  

Additionally, a new undergraduate degree track was approved; Bachelor’s of Music in music therapy. 

The major aims to address and meet the needs of our student body and provide students with the opportunity to use their musical talents to “connect with and heal individuals from various backgrounds,” while receiving a high-quality education, as said by Dr. Karen S. Veloz, Associate Teaching Professor and Interim Director at the FIU School of Music. 

The meeting closed off with Student Body President Alexander Sutton reporting on the “Ceasefire Now” resolution, centered on the Israel-Palestine conflict. The bill failed to pass in the Student Government Senate, but Sutton emphasized how inspiring it was to see students from both sides getting involved in current affairs and engaging in dialogue. 

Sutton also voiced the position of SGA on the elimination of the DEI and similar programs. 

“The student government stands against the policies and regulations that require this change to be made, and that we support the kinds of programs that the division of DEI and the Office of Social Justice and Inclusion will put on,” Sutton said.  

“Because we feel that they’ve made FIU a more welcoming and safe space for a lot of students, especially those who are in marginalized communities.”

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