Student Senate pushes for more U.S. Minority education

By Samantha Jones Toal

“We want to make sure the community understands what happens to us,” he said. “This is something relevant to the African American and Hispanic community.”

Representatives of several campus minority organizations attended the meeting to voice their support for an ISS resolution that would require undergraduates to take three credits of a U.S. Minority course.

Currently, each student must take a Western Cultures class and either a Non-Western or U.S. Minority course. This resolution requires undergraduates to take all three courses to fulfil their general education requirements.

“Having our school saying, ‘We want you to learn about these things,’ it really makes me feel like you guys care,” said Chibuihe Asonye, president of the Black Student Union at LAR and Allen Hall.

Spencer Copeland, sophomore in business, said she supports the resolution because there is a divide between students at the University and requiring a class that embraces different cultures could lessen this divide.

“It will help us understand each other before we have issues like at Mizzou,” she said.

Recently, issues of racism at the University of Missouri have led to the resignation of the president and chancellor, student outrage and threats of violence.

Rochelle Wilson, advertising major, said adding a U.S. Minority class to the curriculum helps ensure that the true stories of minorities are told.

“For a lot of us growing up, we only learned what the textbook told us,” she said. “Give U of I a chance to have a standard of inclusiveness and a holistic view.”

After the public comment portion, senators also came forward to voice their support for the resolution.

Joseph Mosely, student senator, compared an incident where his mother was called racial slurs in 1976 to the Payton Head incident at Mizzou.

He emphasized the similarity of the incidents but the drastic difference in time period.

“There are cultures that people can’t connect with and don’t connect with,” he said. “This place of higher education is a place to create an atmosphere of understanding.”

Farah Chalisa, student senator, brought up another incident of race that occurred on a college campus this week.

At Virginia Tech, a student wrote “I will be here 11/11/2015 to kill all Muslims,” on a bathroom wall, according to the Virginia Tech Police Department.

“I spent today terrified. I am so tired of listening to Muslims being hated on, of listening to Muslims be called terrorists,” she said.

Chalisa believes that a required U.S. Minority course would increase cultural awareness and prevent incidents like Virginia Tech’s on the University campus.

However, with the increased required number of credits, Senator Shaina Hakimain questioned how this would affect graduation for students.

Author of the resolution, Shawn Gordon, said that currently the “double-dipping” policy is not yet specified.

Matt Hill, vice president-external, said the issue of adding three credit hours was much more controversial amongst senators last year, which prevented the resolution from passing.

The resolution has letters of support attached to it from Deans of various colleges that state their willingness to incorporate the new requirement into their curriculum.

The resolution will next go to the Academic Affairs Committee for amendments and discussion. Next week, the senate will officially vote on the resolution.

“I know that everyone in this room is committed to diversity and inclusion,” Hill said. “We will work really hard to make sure this is a resolution that will pass student senate.”

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