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UO student leaders push to require CRT to graduate, sparking controversy

ASUO hopes to implement Critical Race Theory as a requirement to graduate by the next academic term.

Posted: Dec 2, 2021 6:52 PM
Updated: Dec 2, 2021 6:52 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- Student leaders at the University of Oregon are pushing for Critical Race Theory to be a required course in order to graduate. They brought up their request at the Board of Trustees meeting on Wednesday.

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"My goal is to, with the undergraduate provost's office in the winter quarter, to kind of establish the curriculum," said president Isaiah Boyd of the Associated Students of University of Oregon. "As well as our ethnic studies department, our black studies department and seeing if we can coordinate with them and open up that discussion of how can we build a system sustainable for years to come."

Boyd said discussions with the student body government around mandating CRT began during the 2020 election cycle.

"Obviously higher education is a center point for advancing and exchanging cultural ideas so it only makes sense to embed what the history of racism is in America," said Boyd.

Boyd hopes the school will require CRT as a graduation requirement by the 2022-2023 school year.

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In a statement, the Office of the Provost said: "The University of Oregon is committed to the core belief that diversity of background, thought, and perspective is an absolute necessity for building academic excellence. To that end, we continuously seek opportunities to expand scholarship of racial injustice and to raise awareness of and address systemic racism and inequities on campus."

They said they have made several recent efforts to address issues of race and inequality, including requiring every UO student to take at least one course that covers U.S. difference and inequality and one course that covers global perspectives.

"What's difficult about that is you can kind of escape around that," said Boyd. "We're not putting race or Critical Race Theory at the forefront of those."

But some believe CRT is already woven into the current curriculum in public colleges.

"When I first saw that, I honestly thought it was some kind of joke," said chairman of the Oregon Federation of College Republicans Ben Ehrlich. "Do they not teach that stuff already?"

Ehrlich believes implementing CRT in schools would create more division among people.

"Go back to the day and age that I lived through in public school where you could not tell the political affiliation of your teacher or professor," said Ehrlich. "That's how it ought to be."

However, UO student leaders said there's more that needs to be taught on a college level.

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