Butler’s definition contradicts single class idea

By Matt Gilbert

Can students ever expect to see a controversial mandatory multiculturalism class? Details about the class, including the possibility that there may never be one, leaked out at Student Association senate meetings from student Regent John Butler.

Butler has hinted at a past SA meeting that NIU President John La Tourette has told him a single multiculturalism class would not be feasible. Only a battery of classes would be economically feasible.

This contradicts previous comments by SA President Abe Andrzejewski that the SA was seeking to establish a mandatory multiculturalism class.

Butler defined for the first time what the SA means when it refers to “multiculturalism.”

“Multiculturalism, as it is meant by us, is the inclusion of cultural perspectives in the evaluation of situations that involve culture,” Butler said. “It is not a systematic study of one culture after another after another. It is talking about cultural perspectives and application to issues involving culture.”

Butler added, “Secondly, it is not the intent of the (SA ad-hoc multicultural) committee to propose a class. Ladies and gentlemen, this committee is not proposing a class. To my knowledge (the committee) will never ever propose a class.”

According to Butler, the SA’s ad-hoc multicultural committee is looking at establishing criteria for evaluating what currently existing courses would constitute exposure to multicultural issues. The committee also is looking into establishment of a faculty committee to plan the creation of a multicultural curriculum required for graduation.

Students would be able to choose one course out of several to fulfill their multicultural requirement, Butler said, and some of the courses might be within the students’ major. “This is an interdisciplinary method of incorporating multiculturalism over all of the disciplines that may be exposed to this.”

Butler said some of the classes might not exist at present. Some possible multicultural courses Butler suggested included “Urban Economics” and “The Politics of Racial Minorities.”

Butler also mentioned existing courses like “Racism in American Culture” that might satisfy the requirement. “Here you have a course that 120 students try to take every semester and only 25 to 30 spots are available. There is a demand in that area and we think we can work within the existing structure.”

Butler also said most presently enrolled NIU students would graduate before the program would be implemented. He said faculty and administration have expressed an interest in the program.