Poll indicates respondents oppose multicultural class

By Markos Moulitsas

Respondents voted by a margin of three-to-one against the creation of a mandatory multicultural class, according to the results of an unscientific poll conducted by The Northern Star last week.

The poll asked, “Are you in favor of the creation of a mandatory multicultural class as a graduation requirement at NIU?”

There were 400 respondents to the poll, with 302 callers voting “no” and the other 98 voting “yes.”

Student Association President Abe Andrzejewski was displeased with the results and questioned the validity of the poll.

“It seems that in polls like these, people who are opposed to the issue will be more likely to speak,” he said. “I wonder how many other classes in this university would get a ‘yes’ vote if students were to vote on them.”

He insisted a mandatory multicultural class should still be created.

“I think the fact that 100 students voted yes is indicative of the need to have this class,” Andrzejewski said.

Tendaji Ganges, director of Educational Services and Programs said, “I think the simple fact that you have a three-to-one vote against (a required multiculturalism class) is evidence to the need of courses that would expose students to the world.”

He added, “As the world grows into a global community, we must recognize the need to learn an appreciation for different cultures and societies. It is irresponsible for institutions of higher learning to not ensure that all students be exposed to a variety of cultures.”

Ganges questioned the concept of having one required multiculturalism class, saying one class would not be able to handle the vast array of diversity.

“I reject the whole notion that a single course would satisfy a specific agenda,” he said. “There can be a variety of courses offered to students (each focusing on a different culture), and they could be required to take one or more of them.”

Michael Gonzales, director of the Center for Latino and Latin American Studies, said the poll did not mean much since there were so few respondents.

“Only a very small percentage of the total number of students voted,” he said. Results including such a small number of respondents are not indicative of student opinions campus-wide, he said.

Gonzales said although students should have input on the university’s curriculum, faculty and administrators were “better prepared” to decide what classes would be beneficial to students.

He said most students would have to deal with people from different cultures in their lives.

“It just makes sense to know something about them. There are many fields where you won’t be able to function without a knowledge of people (from various cultures),” Gonzales said.

Admasu Zike, director of the Center for Black Studies, said he understood why students voted the way they did.

“I don’t blame them,” he said. “They’re probably afraid a (multiculturalism) requirement would mean another complication towards graduation.”

Zike said he was sure no one was opposed to multiculturalism classes, just a requirement to take them.