Video aims to raise hope for racial unity

By Jen Bland

Don’t believe the naysayers that portray racial problems as irreconcilable, according to a video conference sponsored by the NIU office of affirmative action.

From noon to 2 p.m. today in the Heritage Room of the Holmes Student Center, students and community members alike are encouraged to watch and learn from “We Can Get Along: A Blueprint for Campus Unity.”

The video conference will be seen by students across the country via satellite.

Marilyn Monteiro, director of Affirmative Action, said this is the fourth conference it has sponsored at NIU dealing with race relations.

Monteiro said past conferences have dealt with minority women and their experiences and race relations. She said all the conferences are taped and used in the video series sponsored every semester and are also available for teachers to use in their classes.

Participants in the conference will include Jacqueline Fleming, professor of psychology at Barnard College; Paul Shang, director of the Help for Education and Life Planning Success Center at Colorado State University; Curtis Polk, race relations counselor at the University of Texas in Austin; Gloria Romero, visiting professor of Chicago studies at Loyola Marymount University; Reverend Leo J. O’Donovan, S.J., president of Georgetown University and Julian Bond will moderate.

There also will be a special remote link-up with students, faculty and administrators from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Andrew Hacker, professor of political science at Queens College in New York and author of “Two Nations, Black and White, Separate, Hostile, Unequal,” will speak.

Monteiro said the conference offers students a chance to hear perspectives from people across the country and hopefully offers ways to get through the difficulties based on race and culture.

“There’s no guarantee the conference will offer an insight, but we hope it does,” she said. “It allows us to see we’re not the only ones who deal with these problems.”

The conference helps raise issues that need to be addressed and gets people thinking, Monteiro said. She said she doesn’t feel there is a prominent problem with race relations on NIU’s campus.

Monteiro said there has been a tapering off of open displays of racism since she arrived here in 1987. She said there may be isolated incidents, but the more diverse the students of a campus are, the more likely there will be racial tension.