Keep Diversity in Loyola's Theology Core
An Open Letter to the Provost, Dr. John Pelissero: As beneficiaries of the education at Loyola University Chicago, we-- the undersigned current students and alumni-- vehemently object to the changes to the CORE curriculum for the 2011-2012 school year. By removing the very classes which embody the diversity so adamantly advertised by Loyola from the Theology core, the university is going back on its commitment to “challenge [it’s] students... to respect diversity”. We understand that Loyola is a Catholic university and that the simplified core reflects the expectation that students will graduate with a knowledge of Catholic practices. However, Loyola names itself in its Mission as a “home to all faiths”. It is unreasonable to think that the presence of a Mosque, Hillel, and a Puja prayer room are enough to placate students who are being told that courses on their faiths and cultures are no longer important enough to be considered “CORE”. These strong religious communities contribute significantly to our campus and our community, and the student leaders who come from these traditions are being systematically belittled at the same time they are being used as tokens of diversity by Loyola’s marketing department. Loyola is an expensive institution, and with tuition rising every year, students are not inclined to take classes which do not apply directly to their major, minor, or the Core. With most concentrations, especially in smaller programs, declared because of a class experience through the Core, removing courses from Black World Studies and other programs from the Theology Core would limit students’ access to these lesser known programs which benefit a more global and comprehensive worldview. With a university which refuses to follow up its lip-service support with funding for new courses, and which in fact has committed to cut courses from being accessed by a broader student body, and from the attention of incoming students, this change in curriculum is a death sentence for the Black World Studies program. Founded in 1971 from the decade-long cries of a student population that felt ignored both by a changing country and by a majority white university, the Black World Studies program has tried to respond to the expectations of its students with the limited funding and attention it has been given by the administration. It took over 35 years for BWS to become a major, and these proposed changes would make it all but impossible for students to fulfill the necessary requirements for the major. If the program ceases to be able to provide students with the courses they need, then we begin to backpedal into insignificance. This institutionalized academic racism is the primary reason we, the students, have come together to resist these proposed changes. If the goal of the Core change is to create a more homogeneous student body, then we believe that Loyola is on the right track. If the goal is to garner more donations from a Catholic base of benefactors, then this is a smart move. However, if Loyola still stands firm in its position that it exists to serve its students and promotes “freedom of inquiry,” the administration has made a terrible and short-sighted error. Loyola University is a business and we, the students, are its clients. This change in the Theology Core does not reflect the expectations of the current student body, and the alumni stand in solidarity with them in calling for the diversified Theology Core to remain intact.