College racism meeting scheduled

By Sean Noble

Several Midwestern college administrators in association with the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators will gather at NIU on Feb. 4 to discuss ways of combating recent waves of racism on American campuses.

The all-day conference at the Holmes Student Center is in response to what one conference coordinator, NIU Student Housing Director Don Buckner, called a “renewed racism cropping up.”

Michael Nettles, a senior researcher at the Educational Testing Service, will give the keynote address on “Removing the Barriers to Minority Student Achievement in Higher Education” at 9 a.m.

Buckner said Nettles is the editor of “Toward Black Undergraduate Student Equality in American Higher Education,” scheduled for publication this year. Nettles also was an administrator with the Tennessee Higher Education Commission.

Henry Johnson, vice president for student affairs at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, will speak on “Responding to Acts of Racism and Discrimination: Strategies for Action” at 1:15 p.m., Buckner said. He said Johnson was instrumental in creating programs responding to “a number of well-publicized racial occurrences” at U of M last year.

The last major address, “Lessons from the Past: Fighting Old Battles Anew,” will be given by Clarence Shelly at 3:30 p.m. Buckner said Shelly is the assistant vice chancellor at the University of Illinois. He started the Educational Opportunity Program at U of I 20 years ago.

A series of four smaller discussions are scheduled for the conference as well, Buckner said. These include “The Academic Classroom Environment for Minority Students” and “Strategies for Enhancing Minority Retention” in colleges and universities.

Resource and discussion leaders include William Hall from the U.S. Justice Department, James Forstall from the Illinois Board of Higher Education and Clara Fitzpatrick, a member of the Illinois Board of Regents.

Jon Dalton, NIU vice president for student affairs, said planning for the conference began last summer by the NASPA. “A benefit from this program for NIU will be the many people coming to share their ideas,” Dalton said. “I think this will be the first major conference in the country with this topic as the focal point for so many university representatives.”

Buckner said, “This conference should provide people with a better understanding of problems of minority students.”

Some of the Feb. 4 program will be taped for a national teleconference, “Racism on Campus: Toward an Agenda for Action,” scheduled for March 22, Dalton said.

About 75 registrations from six different states were received as of last Friday, Buckner said. He said he has been receiving about ten a day, and expects “125 to 150 at the finish of the registration period.”

Registration for the conference is through the NIU Office of Continuing Education. Office coordinator Deborah Booth said registration is $45 if paid before Jan. 22. After that date, the fee will be $60.