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OPINION: Don’t fix what’s not broken. Keep sociology as a requirement at Florida universities.

The BOG needs to reject a proposal removing Principles of Sociology from university general education requirements. ORACLE PHOTO/JUSTIN SEECHARAN

On Nov. 9, the Florida Board of Governors (BOG) voted in favor of a proposal, introduced by Florida Commissioner of Education Manny Diaz Jr., that would remove Principles of Sociology as part of the state’s general education requirements. 

Sociology is a vital part of higher education, and this decision will inevitably have detrimental effects on the students and the university. The BOG needs to vote against this rule at their next meeting in January so that students won’t miss out on the important lessons and skills taught in this course.

Principles of Sociology is one of the courses students can take to fulfill the social science requirement at USF. The others are Introduction to Anthropology, Macroeconomics, American Government, Introduction to Psychology and Introductory Survey Since 1877, which the BOG voted to replace Principles of Sociology as a gen-ed.

This class helps students gain a solid foundation for the rest of their lives and future careers.

Related: USF students oppose proposal to remove sociology as general education requirement

Principles of Sociology introduces students to sociological theories, core concepts and issues, according to the USF Course Inventory. The course also covers how societal structures interact with concepts like sexuality, gender and race.

If the rule is approved in January, students will still be able to take sociology courses, but they will not count toward the general education requirements.  

The class equips students with critical thinking, information literacy and data analysis skills that will benefit them in everyday life no matter their career path, sociology professor Will Tyson said in a Monday interview with The Oracle. 

This course also gives students a deeper understanding of the world around them, which is incredibly important for young people entering adulthood. 

Tyson said the BOG are likely considering no longer including this course in the general education requirements because they don’t understand how sociology is taught and what benefits it provides.

Amanda Phalin, Chair of the BOG’s Advisory Council of Faculty Senates and one of three BOG members to oppose the ruling, said removing sociology as a gen-ed requirement would have a  widespread negative impact on students’ education.

“These are very large enrollment courses that affect hundreds and thousands of students across the system. What this body has done today is made a change that is going to have massive impacts,” Phalin said.

This decision would not only have negative effects on students, but also on USF as a whole.

Removing this course will also likely take away significant funding from the university, according to a statement from the Florida public university chairs of Departments of Sociology, including Sara Green, Department chair of USF’s sociology department. 

Sociology faculty are responsible for bringing in millions of dollars in grants from the National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Health, among others, according to the statement. By taking away such a vital course, USF risks losing some of this funding. 

The loss of this revenue will also likely make it more difficult for the university to hire and retain staff in the sociology department. Many of them are already being recruited by universities in other states, according to the statement.

Although the course will still be taught, removing it from the list or courses that fulfill these requirements will “inevitably result in far fewer students benefiting from a sociological education and an impoverishment of the general education curriculum overall,” according to the department chairs’ statement.

The BOG needs to vote against this proposal in January and keep Principles of Sociology as a part of the required general education courses. 

Removing this course from the list means less students will be taught the important lessons and skills introduced in this introductory course.