Baylor should incorporate cultural competency classes into degree plans

By Adrienne Redman | Reporter

We live in a world on the brink of a breakthrough. Now, as we actively strive to uproot the racism and sexism within our society, equality and understanding between us seems within reach. Our social sphere has evolved to embrace inclusivity and progress, and we seem to be on the horizon of a future our predecessors could only dream about.

We are, however, nowhere near finished. Racist discourse has evolved past blatancy to allow for subtler, but continued, marginalization. Just take a look at coverage from this last midterm election if you aren’t convinced sexism still exists. And we still have a lot to work on here at home, too. As Baylor works to reach its place among the top Christian research institutions, we have found ourselves facing media attention for numerous cultural insensitivity incidents. For an institution tasked with producing the next generation of Christian leaders, this is simply unacceptable.

I am a firm believer that change is driven by action. Words, by default, are a much slower agent. However, education and the resulting practice of that knowledge create a force for change like no other. Baylor lags behind its counterparts in both offering and mandating this education and its students suffer.

Many universities boast departments much like our Multicultural Affairs office, whose mission, according to its website, is to encourage students to celebrate their personal heritage and embrace other cultures. This is a vital organization on our campus for the education and awareness it provides. Many universities, unlike ours, also require cultural awareness classes for the majority of their degree plans. These classes reach students in ways our Multicultural Affairs office simply cannot; they force those to listen who otherwise wouldn’t.

A substantial hindrance in our quest for progress isn’t only the obvious, in-your-face racism and sexism we can easily identify, but the continued expression of, “I didn’t know it was wrong.” Mandatory classes that educate and provoke passion for inclusivity and cultural consciousness would drastically change this tired narrative.

The University of Notre Dame recently adopted a new core curriculum for its first-year students that focuses on health and wellness as well as cultural competency. According to an article posted on the Notre Dame website, the community standards and cultural awareness aspects of the curriculum are designed to “create a caring community, foster a spirit of inclusiveness on campus, [and] develop a deeper understanding of the complex interactions of gender, sexual orientation, class, ethnicity and race.” To understand the overwhelmingly positive results of a curriculum like this, just google “Notre Dame,” and “cultural insensitivity.” Then do the same for our institution.

We should feel strongly about this issue not because of the way we are perceived, but because of the future we are creating for ourselves. An ideal society, without bias and hate, is simply impossible without a foundation of knowledge and experience surrounding these issues. This is especially important for us as we strive to be well-informed Christian leaders. We can do better, and we should start now.

Adrienne is a senior journalism major from Pflugerville.