Panelists discuss cultural pluralism

By Maureen Morrissey

Students from various campus organizations talked about cultural ignorance on campus and a cultural pluralism program Tuesday.

The Student Association Minority Relations Committee asked eight panelists to consider the statement, “Cultural Ignorance is detrimental to the purpose of undergraduate education. Our University administration needs to adopt curriculum requirements to erradicate such ignorance from our campus.”

Minority Relations Adviser Deborah Conley said the committee “felt it necessary to address cultural ignorance and what can be done about it.”

Conley asked the audience, about 20 students, to “speak up if there is something that is not being addressed.”

Alfred Tatum from Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity stressed the need for a cultural pluralism program at NIU.

“As our curriculum is today, a student can leave Northern as ignorant as they came in,” Tatum said. The cultural pluralism program would be “a chance to resolve cultural ignorance,” she said.

Academic Affairs Adviser Willie Fowler said the SA has been trying to develop a cultural pluralism program for the past three years.

However, Assistant Provost Lou Jean Moyer said “what we need is an exchange between students in a forum; we have to get this type of discussion in all parts of the campus, not just the classroom.”

“We have been doing a lot of research, but it is a difficult task to accomplish,” Fowler said.

The criteria for the program would concentrate on race and ethnicity, but might also cover topics such as religion and gender, he said. “We are the first university to include religion and gender,” Fowler said.

The Academic Affairs Committee is proposing that NIU add a fifth category to general education requirements to address cultural pluralism.

Each student would have to take at least one course before graduating from a list of courses relating to cultural pluralism already offered by the university, Fowler said.