Professor defends need for major

Debate about the possibility of adding an African American Studies major has abounded, but the director of the program says that is not exactly what the students are demanding.

“What the students are demanding is to strengthen the structure of the program so that the director has authority to direct a major (to work) with other departments, to hire people with joint titles (and) to have the authority to enable the faculty to teach the classes specific to the African American experience in each of the disciplines,” said Michael Washington, director of the African American Studies Program.

Washington stressed the importance of the director being able to collaborate with department members on hiring criteria to support the program.

He said he does not think professors need to be African American in order to teach subjects in African American Studies. He stressed the importance that they be well trained, willing to teach subjects from the perspective of the African American community and be committed to positive outcomes and excellence.

According to Washington, the types of classes students would like to see in the program are: Introduction to Black Sociology, Black Family Strengths and Weaknesses and Black Male/Female Relationships, Black Political Organizations and Blacks and the Law. “These classes will benefit the community and break down ethnic barriers,” Washington said.

Washington also said a degree in African American Studies will enhance any profession, especially when working in areas with a high population of African Americans.