The University of Chicago is defending its decision to force English Ph.D. candidates to focus exclusively on “Black Studies.” The university claims that the decision is insignificant because it will only apply to five incoming grad students that the department plans to admit for the upcoming term.
According to a report by the College Fix, the University of Chicago is defending its decision to limit the range of concentration topics for a class of incoming English Ph.D. students.
Breitbart News reported last week that the University of Chicago would require incoming English Ph.D. students to focus their research on “Black Studies.”
“For the 2020-2021 graduate admissions cycle, the University of Chicago English Department is accepting only applicants interested in working in and with Black Studies,” the university wrote on its website.
In a statement, University of Chicago spokesperson Gerald McSwiggan said that critics have exaggerated the significance of the university’s decision to limit the range of available areas of study for incoming Ph.D. candidates. According to McSwiggan, the policy change is insignificant because it will only apply to the five additional Ph.D. students that are accepted into the program this year.
Like many graduate programs around the country, the English Department at the University of Chicago can accept a limited number of PhD graduate students in the 2020-21 application season due to the COVID-19 pandemic and limited employment opportunities for English PhDs.
Currently, there are 77 PhD students studying a wide variety of disciplines within the English Department, and the department is admitting 5 additional PhD students for 2021. The English department faculty saw a need for additional scholarship in Black Studies, and decided to focus doctoral admissions this year on prospective PhD students with an interest in working in and with Black Studies. As with other departments in the University, the department’s faculty will decide which areas of scholarship they wish to focus on for PhD admissions in future years.
Political commentators such as Ayaan Hirsi Ali were quick to condemn the University of Chicago for its decision.
“I just tweeted an article about the University of Chicago English Department. This is all too idiotic. Most of us don’t know whether to laugh or cry. By the logic of their creed, wouldn’t English be the oppressor’s language?” Ali wrote in a tweet published last week.
I just tweeted an article about the University of Chicago English Department. This is all too idiotic. Most of us don't know whether to laugh or cry. By the logic of their creed, wouldn't English be the oppressor's language?
— Ayaan Hirsi Ali (@Ayaan) September 14, 2020
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