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Legislation takes the ‘mandatory’ out of U. Oklahoma diversity course

The University of Oklahoma will not make incoming students take a newly created diversity course due to legislation recently becoming state law.

House Bill 1775, the OU Daily reports, limits the teaching of critical race theory-based ideas such as the notion that whites are inherently racist.

Governor Kevin Stitt signed the bill two weeks ago.

As a result, the university had to “adapt to the changing landscape” and make the new “Gateway to Belonging” course an option rather than a requirement — as it was intended.

OU Director of Media Relations Kesha Keith told the Daily that “although students can choose to not take Gateway to Belonging or take the class as incoming students in the fall semester, they will have to fulfill the First-Year Experience General Education requirement with one of […] three classes.”

MORE: New Hampshire state rep. introduces bill to ban CRT trainings

OU Executive Director of Government Affairs John Woods claimed legislators and many others are simply ignorant about critical race theory-based instruction:

Woods said [HB 1775’s] terms were “very poorly defined” and “very poorly articulated and incorrect in a lot of areas,” such as the definition of critical race theory.

According to the bill text, teachers, administrators or employees of state colleges may not teach course concepts such as “one race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex” or that “an individual should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment solely or partly because of his or her race or sex.” …

“It’s important for all of us to know that the perception of not just a majority of our Oklahoma legislators, but legislators across the country, (and) a variety of constituency groups across the country … do not have a fair and accurate understanding of what CRT [critical race theory] is or what diversity, equity and inclusion work is and what it really means,” Woods said. “They have … a very narrow, skewed view. So, I do think there is an obligation to educate, not just our students, but (also) external audiences.”

Gateway to Belonging was created in response to the so-called Black Emergency Response Team’s demands of a year ago. The university describes the course as assisting students to “build an intercultural awareness” which will “help them interact more effectively with others.”

OU President Joseph Harroz said the class will give students “a true understanding of others, as well as a sense of belonging at OU and beyond.”

The university recently hired Adrienne Carter-Sowell as director of Gateway to Belonging. She hails from Texas A&M  where she was a professor in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences and Interdisciplinary Critical Studies Program.

Read the article.

MORE: Florida’s DeSantis’ new initiative will promote teaching civics, disavow CRT

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