Senate Discusses Multiculturalismby Michael Severino (12/10/99)
Student Senate held its second forum Thursday, Dec. 9, entitled "Multiculturalism in the Oberlin College Curriculum." The forum was designed to be a productive discussion, with students invited to interrupt with questions, concerns or ideas. Many were wary of what happened at the first chaotic multiculturalism forum, which reportedly involved snubbing and attacking, and no clear decision was made.
Some ground rules were set at the beginning of Thursday's forum, and clear goals were defined. Sophomore Kate Davoli Student Senate education coordinator said, "The goal of the forum was to get a good sense of how students think multiculturalism should be addressed on campus. Final products will include a list of both short-term and long-term goals, the pairing up of students to discuss particular questions and ideas, collaboration with Senators to write policies on multiculturalism, and communication between students and Faculty Committees that discuss these issues at length every two weeks."
The purpose of the forum was not to attack, but to define the student . Over 100 students of all different ethnic groups congregated to address concerns regarding multiculturalism. A few initial concerns included a general lack of teachers in specific departments, such as Asian American studies, African American studies and Latino studies. Moreover, students expressed worry over the low availability of multicultural classes , and the unclear definition of what constitutes cultural diversity in a class.
First-year J.J. Arevalo expressed concern as to where the money of Oberlin's millennium campaign is going, saying that such money should be going to departments that need it. Other students protested for understanding that their lives are completely caught up in the disadvantages of not being able to take such multicultural classes. Still, other students countered the call for increased multiculturalism, asserting that it already exists in force at Oberlin.
One student rose the point regarding the effects of multicultural learning on the future of Oberlin, saying that it isn't an issue for people of color, it is an issue for everyone, as students prove competent in understanding multicultural issues and need to acquire more of this understanding to help influence others.
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