Maryland

SU diversity course placed in national spotlight

SU diversity course placed in spotlight

SALISBURY, Md. - "I don't think there is anything particularly unusual or unique about me and using this image in my class." 

Dr. Erin Stutelberg is an assistant professor at Salisbury University. But a complaint from one of her students to a website called Campus Reform has placed Stutelberg into the national spotlight.

The anonymous student telling the website, "This class was extremely difficult to get through if you did not think like a liberal. Instead of teaching diversity, this class taught us that being white was a bad thing." 

Stutelberg sees it differently. 

She says the the class called 'Diversity and Self' is only meant to better equip future educators with classroom diversity they might face. 

It's one of three one credit courses required for all elementary and early childhood education majors. 

"This might be one of the first times that they've been asked to have difficult conversations about issues of race, social class, gender, and sexuality disability, other things that we know they are going to encounter in the classrooms in schools," says Stutelberg.

It's a course she says that forces students to look at each person's experiences.
 
"We learned that when you look around the room you see one sort of representation and you make assumptions and you think about who these people are sitting around you in class and then you hear their stories and you start to see people differently." 

This year while getting ready for the course, the violent Charlottesville rally happened and with it the discussion of white supremacy. 

"It was right there in our faces and so it needed to be addressed, but I will say I thought really carefully about how to do so," explains Stutelberg. 

The pyramid, just another tool in that discussion. 

"So this period became one tool out of many that I use to help students think about white supremacy not just as men in robes or hoods or torches marching in the streets because I believe that creates a situation in which we can say well that's them, that's not me right? Or that doesn't have anything to do with me but rather to think about ways that race and racism is pervasive in part of all of our lives." 

The university has also released a statement on the matter that reads in part,

"...At Salisbury University, we discuss difficult questions, delve into controversial topics, and serve as an important hub of ideas and diversity of thought...This one-credit course on diversity for elementary education majors was created in response to requests by school districts to help future teachers become better prepared to support learning in their diverse classrooms," Dr. Karen L. Olmstead, the Interim Provost and Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs for SU. 
 


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