‘One Campus’ plan generates criticism, hope

By Lisa Chung

On Aug. 25, Chancellor Richard Herman sent out a mass e-mail about the University’s “One Campus Initiative,” an effort intended to unite the campus by teaching students, faculty and staff to appreciate diversity and increase tolerance.

But students have had mixed opinions about the newly developed initiative.

“I think it’s more about presenting a good image than actually enacting any real change,” said Pat Brown, junior in LAS.

In the e-mail, Herman described the University as “one campus, many voices,” and encouraged students to work with one another in confronting conflicts and controversies.

“Getting people to recognize that they need to approach individuals and learn about them and how they’re different from us (is important),” Herman said in an interview with The Daily Illini.

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Millie Wright, junior in LAS, was optimistic about the initiative.

“(The e-mail) sounded very introductory,” she said. “I hope that they follow up with concrete activities and ideas.”

The One Campus Initiative will host programs for students that will focus on issues of diversity, including differences in race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, religion, ability, class and nationality, the e-mail stated.

Throughout the year, the Chancellor’s Series on Critical Contemporary Issues will invite speakers to touch upon these topics.

“We expect to have speakers talk to students during the year to help address (diversity) issues and focus attention on them,” Herman said.

Herman said these speeches will encourage students to debate issues outside of the lecture room and ultimately “change the lunchroom conversation.”

Chris Chung, sophomore in LAS, said he supports the program’s goal of increasing dialogue.

“It’s not about erasing conflict, but recognizing conflicts and using that to establish a better connection between the races on campus,” Chung said.

Another part of the effort is the new Inclusive Illinois campaign which is directed toward raising awareness of the responsibilities of individuals throughout campus. This campaign will also concentrate on supporting academic and cultural groups.

Programming for Inclusive Illinois is has not been completed, said Menah Pratt-Clarke, the associate director of the Office of Equal Opportunity and Access.

On the Inclusive Illinois Web site, www.inclusiveillinois.uiuc.edu, there is a “commitment statement” that individuals can sign electronically to show their support for the initiative, Pratt-Clarke said.

While the One Campus Initiative attempts to heighten tolerance of differences and unify the campus, attendance to these programs will not be mandatory.

“It’s not so much a mandate, in terms of what you have to do,” Pratt-Clarke said. “It’s more of an opportunity for every organization and unit on campus to say, ‘This is what we’re going to do relating to diversity and inclusion.'”