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Social justice classes should be mandatory at UNT

Social justice classes should be mandatory at UNT

Social justice classes should be mandatory at UNT
August 07
16:30 2020

Social justice is a dirty concept in American society, specifically in the last decade of its existence. Sure, it isn’t an obscenity that comes out of us college students’ mouth every day, but there is a certain stigmatization behind it, such as “Social Justice warrior.” Behind the negative connotation though is a noun that describes a serious matter. I don’t have to point out how it applies, it has become injected into society. With the click of a button and a swipe on the screen of a phone, we have access to billions of stories of how social justice has become a necessity, not a complaint.

Because of the overwhelmingly stressful burden of current events, California State University has made social justice and ethnic studies classes a requirement for undergrads which will go into effect for the 2023-2024 academic year. Over 430,000 students of the university will be expected to take the course after it is fully implemented, according to USA Today.

The aim of these classes is to provide information to the general body of students about various issues related to race, class and sexuality, etc. so students will have a better understanding of intersectionality and how to approach the concept at the workplace. Because of this, I feel it is important for UNT and other universities around America to follow suit. Implementing social justice and ethnic studies classes as a requirement for UNT students in an effort to be politically correct would add to the problem, not fight against it.

It’s important to ask, what would be the goal of providing ethnic studies and social justice classes to UNT? We all come from different paths of life. My story and experience are going to differ from a fellow eagle and vice versa. As I’ve stated in the past, I come from a working-class background and grew up in a rough part of Dallas. Who I grew up around and the environment I was provided with will differ from someone who grew up in a small town where everyone knows each other and crime rates may not be as high. There is a possibility that we will have a difference in our perspectives of certain issues such as gender-based on our individual American experience. What we do have in common is being part of the UNT student body, something I’ve cherished and want to share with all my peers regardless of background.

One immediate benefit of these classes would be separating fact from opinion to find the truth. According to an article by the Advocate, one way to achieve a system of higher learning would be to present an authentic scenario such as if countries should maintain the right to control immigration. By introducing controversial topics to classrooms, professors will instigate real conversations between students to voice their opinions or concerns about the issues at hand. As long as professors serve as moderators, students who have opposing points of view will be able to see both sides which can result in a growth of empathy.

Another added benefit to these classes will be our views on gender expectations and stereotypes. No matter what gender, we all have certain criteria that society expects us to follow simply for the fact that it said so. If men and women were faced to become literate of the media’s depiction of ridiculous beauty standards through offensive and sexist ads, we might bridge the disconnect that frequently occurs between both sexes. If students were taught how to approach the opposite gender with sensitivity, it could potentially lead to a safer workspace. Skills learned in class doesn’t have to stop there, we can use them in relationships to maximize communication.

Social justice isn’t a dirty concept, those who believe so either don’t understand the term or they want to be instructed by their respective news outlet on how they should feel. The four principles of social justice are equity, access, participation and rights. These are basic freedoms that can be tied back to what was written by our founding fathers, but there are groups of people who seem to find themselves outside of the umbrella such as members of the Black Lives Matter movement, members of the LGBTQ+ community and immigrants.

At worst, lessons from these classes can go right through the heads of students. If that happens, UNT will at least be able to say that they attempted to enforce change and create a positive outlook for the student population. At best, students take what they learned from class discussions to heart and will learn the necessary skills to not only create a safer workplace for themselves and colleagues but also learn the ability to look at issues from an objective point of view instead of a subjective one. Only then can we learn from the past and push for a better future, one that includes others from outside of their own backyard.

Featured Illustration: Austin Banzon

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Adrian Maldonado

Adrian Maldonado

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