Top Journalism School Mandating Diversity Course to Earn Degree

The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism redefines such phrases as ‘America is a melting pot’ as raced-based microaggressions.
Top Journalism School Mandating Diversity Course to Earn Degree
View of the campus of Arizona State University (ASU), a public research university located in Phoenix, Arizona (Shutterstock)
Alice Giordano

Mandatory wokeness has crept into one of the top journalism schools in the United States.

The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication is requiring students to complete the course Diversity and Civility at Cronkite (DCC) in order to earn their bachelor’s degree in journalism.

The course, which also applies to students studying sports journalism and digital media, redefines such traditional phrases as “America is a melting pot” as race-based microaggressions and teaches future journalists to avoid assuming “unearned benefits” that come with “heterosexual privileges.”

Examples of outdated heterosexual privileges given in the curriculum include excluding biological males who identified as female from traditional sex-segregated places like women’s locker rooms and women’s prisons.

“To object to a man using a women’s bathroom is an example of discrimination against transgender individuals,” reads a chapter in the course entitled “Sexuality and Gender Identity.”

Also part of the seven-unit course is required reading material entitled “A Guide to Gender Identity Terms.”

It includes lessons that emphasize the importance of asking someone for their preferred pronouns and using them.

“You should offer your own pronouns first and then ask for the other person’s pronouns,” the reading material states. “While it can be awkward at first, it can quickly become routine.”

The course also teaches students to view statements like “I believe the most qualified person should get the job,” as a microaggression that translates into “People of color are given extra unfair benefits because of their race,” and “Everyone can succeed in this society, if they work hard enough,” as implying that “People of color are lazy and/or incompetent and need to work harder.”

In response to inquiries from The Epoch Times, the state-run college described the mandatory course as “an entry-level course intended to bring thoughtful, open-minded discourse to issues of race, gender, sexual orientation, ability, income, geography and other aspects of personal identities.”

“The goal of the course is to help students appreciate people’s differences and to channel disagreements toward civil discussion,” the college said in a statement. “With that view, students should be better able to approach reporting and communications projects with a multicultural perspective and inspire mutual respect among students from various backgrounds and beliefs while at the university, and beyond.”

Opt-Out Possible

A spokesperson for the Walter Cronkite School, which is part of Arizona State University (ASU) also told The Epoch Times that students may opt out of specific discussions by sending their professor a private email requesting to do so.

Timothy Minella, Senior Constitutionalism Fellow at the Goldwater Institute’s Van Sittert Center for Constitutional Advocacy told The Epoch Times that the required journalism course is especially disturbing because it is being mandated by a public, taxpayer funded college.

“Students who decide to major in these subjects are not necessarily signing up to be progressive activists,” he said. “A public university that should be serving the entire public, not just the liberal slice of it, needs to return to its core mission of education, not indoctrination.”

Mr. Minella, who recently wrote a critical analysis of the course after obtaining student assignments and teacher syllabuses through a public records request, said he was especially shocked by an assignment for students contemplating a career in public relations.
The assignment, as shown by records obtained by Mr. Minella, was based on an NPR interview with Demi Lovato, a pop star who has changed her gender identity multiple times.

It asks students: “Imagine you’re working at a PR firm and you have a client whose first album is about to drop. Your client’s gender identity is nonbinary and they use they/them pronouns. They have a massive press tour planned. How do you prepare journalists to talk with your client?”

Mr. Minella said the designers of the course “seemingly attempted to include every aspect of leftist identity politics” they could think up.

Pushing Diversity

The growing controversy of state colleges pushing transgender and critical race theory has become widespread.

On March 2, in a 84 to 30 vote, the South Carolina House approved a bill to ban mandatory diversity training for both students and staff at state universities.

The bill also bans any diversity mission statements as part of their admissions and employment process. If passed, it would add South Carolina to 22 states that passed similar legislation.

The issue also rages on in secondary public schools across the United States.

Earlier this week, two civil rights lawyers filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of a group made up of a Little Rock  high school teacher, students and their parents against Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders and state Education Secretary Jacob Olivia, over the state’s LEARNS Act. LEARNS stands for Literacy, Empowerment, Accountability, Readiness, Networking, and School Safety.

It bans the teaching of CRT and gender ideology in public schools. The group claims the law violates their Constitutional rights to free speech.

In other recent legal action on the issue, the conservative legal group Liberty Counsel (LC) won its battle with the Osseo Area School District in Minnesota for mandating a course for high schoolers entitled “LGBTQIA+ History and Culture Lesson.”

In a March 28 email to LC, the school district wrote that “teacher opt-out religious accommodations will be approved” and “students may choose to leave prior to or during the lesson.”

Mr. Minella said diversity is being pushed to extremes in schools. By his calculations, he found that in the school year 2023, more than 400 students at the Walter Cronkite school, spent more than 2,000 hours of class time learning about diversity, equity, and inclusion.

According to Mr. Minella, there are at least 100 classes offered at the journalism school that includes “diversity,” “equity,” and “inclusion,” in its core curriculum.

In addition to the report on the DCC course at the Walter Cronkite School, The Goldwater Institute recently filed a lawsuit against ASU on behalf of two professors who were allegedly threatened with disciplinary charges for refusing to participate in the college’s diversity training.

In response to inquiries by the Epoch Times about the lawsuit,  an ASU spokesperson said in an email that “universities are” and that the school is “reserving comment until the board is fully briefed at its next board meeting.”

Its journalism school is named after legendary news anchor Walter Cronkite, dubbed the “most trusted man in America” by a public opinion survey conducted in 1972.

In a 1973 interview for Playboy Magazine, Mr. Conkrite, who died in 2009, said that “being a liberal, in the true sense, is being nondoctrinaire, nondogmatic, non-committed to a cause—but examining each case on its merits.”

He also said in the interview that “most newspapermen by definition have to be liberal; if they’re not liberal, by my definition of it, then they can hardly be good newspapermen.

“If they’re preordained dogmatists for a cause, then they can’t be very good journalists; that is, if they carry it into their journalism.”

Not everyone agreed he was the most trusted man in America, including Arizona Republican and one-time presidential nominee Sen. Barry Goldwater—the namesake of The Goldwater Institute.

Mr. Cronkite was often accused by conservatives back then of taking cheap shots at Mr. Goldwater, known as the “Grand Old Man of The Republican Party.”

On the day of President John. F Kennedy’s funeral, the CBS newsman reported that Mr. Goldwater was giving a political speech in Indiana instead of attending the President’s funeral when the U.S. Senator was actually in the state to attend his mother-in-law’s funeral.

The five-term Senator died in 1998.

Alice Giordano is a freelance reporter for The Epoch Times. She is a former news correspondent for The Boston Globe, Associated Press, and the New England bureau of The New York Times.