Questions arise over legitimacy of diversity survey

The Student Government Association’s (SGA) academic diversity surveys, which SGA senators began distributing to students last week, were called into question by several SGA members and concerned students at the general body meeting on Oct. 19.

The surveys were designed by the College’s chapter of Students for Academic Freedom (SAF), an organization that is often categorized as conservative. According to S. Lee Whitesell, executive vice president of Academic Affairs, the surveys “intended to investigate whether or not students feel there is academic diversity.”

Matt Richman, senior history and women’s and gender studies major, questioned the legitimacy of the surveys.

Commenting on the survey’s similarities to the College’s Academic Bill of Rights, Richman asked, “Is there an agenda or ulterior motive for putting into effect something that already exists?”

Annelise Catanzaro, SGA executive president, said the survey’s purpose was to get a feel for student concerns about diversity in the classroom. “SGA is required to defend the rights and interests of every student at (the College),” she said.

Richman said that the nature of the survey promotes “an explicably conservative agenda” and that the survey was defectively, and specifically, designed to provide results that would imply liberal indoctrination.

Ravi Kaneriya, senator at-Large, expressed concern for what would be done if the surveys, which many feel are illegitimate, did reveal student concern of indoctrination.

“This survey is being done by the SGA to further a certain viewpoint. I don’t think it’s SGA’s place to be enforcing any ideology,” Kaneriya said.

He suggested that the surveys should be carried out by SAF and not by SGA.

The discussion concluded with Catanzaro announcing that the academic diversity surveys will continue to be distributed to students and that the results will be compiled as originally planned.

SGA also approved several new clubs and organizations at the meeting. The Racquetball Club, TCNJ Rhythm, the Chinese Club, the Marshall Arts Club and Minority Report, a conservative newspaper, all received SGA approval.