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Letter to the Editor: Faculty Control Curriculum

I just came from today’s march, dialogue, and sit-in.  These student-organized events protest the defacing of a banner that honors African-American history here, as well as the university’s failure to respond fully to student demands for true equity. 
In front of Sikes’ steps where student organizers provided a space for people to share their thoughts and feelings, I heard some of the most eloquent words I’ve experienced at Clemson.  All from students.  When I added some of my own words, speaking as a professor, they fell terribly flat.
They did so because I encouraged students to use the student evaluation of faculty to register their concerns about classes that fail to make learning inclusive.  As the words left my mouth, I regretted them immediately.  Because although I like to believe it is so, if students critique our teaching, I am not sure that it has consequences for all of us faculty. 
Furthermore, students have already critiqued us: they have unequivocally and publicly stated that we need to teach many more inclusive courses, and also that faculty should design a required, introductory course that educates students about racism.
Today President Clements reminded all present to hear him speak that faculty control curriculum.  So let’s do that: let’s give our students what they’ve asked for.  And what we need.  Because in order to teach such courses, we need to learn about histories and realities that empower many of us who are white at the expense of those who are not.

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