10 Theses Against The Social Justice Requirement
Posted by Aniket on February 14, 2013
- People who are interested in the concept of social justice have plenty of classes to choose from across departments ranging from philosophy to economics. There is no need for any compulsory general requirement.
- What is Social Justice? Who gets to define it? One of the definitions I received from an advocate of the new requirement was this: ” When a society is committed to the pursuit of fairness, redress of grievances, inclusion, human rights and humanism.” But something seems wrong when to define one loaded word, one has to use five more loaded words. Besides, if freedom is seen as an integral component of justice, then it is an inherent contradiction to force students to take a course.
- Social Justice should not be interpreted as political correctness. It should not degenerate to silence on controversial issues. The idea of justice is itself complex and dates back to Plato who defined it as the harmonious reconciliation of different parts of the whole.
- The SJ requirement is reactionary in the sense that it rests on the presumption that prejudice is simply a product of ignorance and that people can be forced to overcome their deep seated beliefs by mandating a class. Searching for an instant solution to “hate crimes” should itself be seen as simplistic and unfair.
- What are the actual logistics of this class? Who would teach it and in what department? Would it be big enough to accommodate the entire student population? Would colleges be allowed to design their own social justice curriculum? How would it affect inter-college relations within the University?
- If the central purpose of education is to enable people to engage in free and critical thinking, what impact would such a requirement have on their analytical abilities?
- Technical proficiency and academic success are often compatible with the existence of bias. How would coursework allow people to overcome the perceived social problems on Cornell Campus?
- There is a crucial difference between other science and liberal arts requirements and a specific SJ requirement. Other general requirements still allow students to choose their courses of interest. But the SJ requirement would be a direct attack on the students’ choice in designing their own unique academic experience.
- It would hurt those who are really interested in exploring the concept of social justice. Do you want to be in a class full of people sighing and complaining while you’re actually interested in the material? A class where the vast majority of people happen to be there because they couldn’t do otherwise would descend into boredom and drudgery.
- It should be seen as another attempt to replace personal responsibility with bureaucratic administration. People would be absolved of their responsibility to select courses because some of those decisions would have already been made for them by those in the positions of authority.