White Students Relieved by Whitewashed Syllabi

With syllabus week nearing its end, students are relieved to be met once again with multiple homogeneous syllabi. “I got concerned that I might have to listen to someone that doesn’t look like me,” a white male sophomore told The Hilltopper. “It puts me at ease to know that every class is filled with a slew of dead white men,” said another. Students in philosophy, theology, and English courses alike were comforted to know that their syllabi would remain representative of a single elite portion of the population.

A diverse syllabus can be harmful to systems of oppression that ensure the continuation of a white heteronormative patriarchal society, explained a white male professor from an undisclosed department. Male and female professors seem to agree with the assessment across disciplines – there simply isn’t room for anyone else.

The homogeneous syllabi are effective in reinforcing the systems of oppression with which many professors are comfortable. Said one student, “I thought that maybe there was even just one black or gay or Asian or Native American or Hispanic or female or transgender author in the past few centuries that had written something worth studying, but if my professor couldn’t find one, then I guess there isn’t! It’s honestly a relief to be reassured of my superiority.”

Other students seemed to agree, saying they didn’t sign up to read such trivial authors as Presidential Medal of Freedom winner Maya Angelou, Nobel prize winner Toni Morrison, or Pulitzer prize winner Alice Walker.

Select professors reported feeling pressure to update their syllabi due to the “changing times” and an increasingly liberal atmosphere in academia. Initially worried, professors have found innovative ways to satisfy these expectations without threatening the status of white men. “You simply put diverse scholars at the very end of the syllabus,” reported multiple professors. This way, they explained, you can still spend the majority of the class preserving the voices of dead white men. Backloading the syllabus allows professors to blame the exclusion of diverse voices on time. For example, one class simply “ran out of time for Dorothy Day.”

Among the other suggestions for skirting the demands for diversity? Some recommended using snow days as an excuse to skip classes that feature non-white authors, bemoaning ‘political correctness’ for the full 50-minute class time, and taking advantage of their tenured status to simply ignore any demands for inclusion.

Some professors blame the lack of inclusion on the demands of the core curriculum, which mandates they cover certain topics depending on the core learning outcome. With such rigorous expectations, it is nearly impossible to include voices beyond Aquinas and Bentham, explained theology and philosophy professors, respectively.

Other professors were simply confused by the request for more diverse perspectives. Said one, “I’m teaching a core course, not an elective. Why would I need to include someone who isn’t a straight white male? It’s literature, not African-American literature. I’m all for them being in a syllabus, but why can’t we just keep them separate but equal?”

  1. Firstly, I would like to say that I understand that this is an attempt at satire. I respect the point that you are trying to make, and I agree that all students at this college should experience new, and different ideas from many sources. Colleges should be places of diverse knowledge and opinions as well as a place for discussion and debate. However, I cannot look at this piece as anything but an insult to the faculty and students of this school. You belittle the serious academic thought that professors put into their syllabi simply because it is not as diverse or represented of minority groups as you may prefer.
    It is the job of the professor to assign material they feel will best help you understand the subject at hand. It would be one thing to argue that you feel a certain professor or course could do have laid out a more diverse syllabus. But instead, you labelled all professors at this school as racists. It does not matter to you that a professor may try and offer diversity of thought throughout a course. You seem to be convinced that the color of a person’s skin, and their gender automatically place them into an intellectual box. It is exactly the type of thinking you are trying to fight against. You are labelling the body of this college as unenlightened and bigoted while you are the one who is failing to respect the dignity of the individual.



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