NIU creates programs to combat racism

By Sean Noble

University officials are developing a “whole spectrum” of programs and events to combat the problem of racism on campus said Jon Dalton, vice president for student affairs.

Dalton said NIU President John LaTourette’s office is developing an Institutional Action Plan which encompasses a “series of actions designed to enhance and promote minority relations,” such as residence hall workshops and educational programs.

e said, “The Institutional Action Plan is now still a draft moving toward finalization.” It is just one example of the efforts to implement the recommendations of the University Task Force set up last spring in response to racism.

Another recommendation of the task force was the “Unity Through Diversity” week scheduled for Sept. 27 – Oct. 3, he said.

Gary Henderson, graduate assistant of student affairs, said, “The Unity Through Diversity week will include a number of cultural and social events with an atmosphere of support for all (cultures).”

The Presidential Commission on the Status of Minorities also is planning a special anti-racism committee, said Martha Palmer, an adviser to the Black Greek Council.

She said this new interracial committee is being developed under the direction of Walter Owens and is designed to be a “vehicle to address (racial) problems as they arise.”

Palmer said, “All races, creeds, and colors must be together collectively to identify discriminatory problems and bring sensitivity to different racial backgrounds.”

NIU has other, long-standing institutions guarding against racism besides these new programs, said Dalton, such as the Affirmative Action Office.

Dalton said one action of this office is to ensure the hiring and retention of minority workers on campus.

Larry Bolles, director of the University Judicial Office, said, “More people are willing to follow through with the complaint process” at his office since the racist problems have increased. Students encountering racial problems can go to the judicial office to file a complaint for action.

The judicial office is keeping a record of all racial incidents on campus this semester, including those not officially reported, Bolles said. This record will be evaluated at the end of the semester to determine the differences between reported and unreported cases.

Bolles said he feels a “sense of responsibility and citizenship” is coming back to the campus, which will help in the fight against racism.

Palmer said some advances have been made against racial discrimination. For example, the black fraternity Delta Sigma Psi was warmly welcomed when they moved into a house on Greek Row this year, she said. Palmer said this type of anti-racist action must continue in order to cure the discriminatory problems of this campus.