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The Student Senate receives a presentation from Diversity Council

Maureen Reynolds | Thursday, February 12, 2004

The Student Senate received a presentation Wednesday from Diversity Council representatives Leah McGee and Andrea De Vries requesting a mandatory academic course for all students to examine diversity on campus.

McGee and De Vries introduced a letter to the Senate from the Diversity Council, asking for the Senate’s support in an endeavor to, as the letter states, “[create] a task force to propose a mandatory semester requirement to address issues of ethnic diversity.”

The Diversity Council wrote the letter in response to what it called “an underlying current of racism” in The Observer. The letter and other materials provided to the Senate by the Diversity Council specifically cited a Viewpoint article, a photo poll and a “Fives” comic strip as offensive to blacks on campus.

The letter continued, “… we would argue that a newspaper should represent its community, and should not publish articles that are disrespectful to any group within that community.”

While the letter calls for specific action to be taken by The Observer, McGee said they were seeking support from the Senate specifically regarding the addition of a diversity class to the University’s mandatory curriculum, and a task force to investigate such an addition.

“What we’re directly seeking from you is support for the institution of a class requirement,” McGee told the senators. “What we’re asking from you is support to investigate … how we can work with the various bodies of this institution so that we can get a better understanding of diversity on campus.”

The letter also addressed the options available to students if this proposition became mandatory.

“There are currently many classes available which would fulfill this need,” the letter said, “for example, ‘Race, Ethnicity and American Politics,’ taught by [assistant professor of political science] Alvin Tillery, as well as ‘Whiteness Studies,’ which is taught by [assistant professor of American Studies] Thomas Guglielmo…”

“As an institution of higher education, the University of Notre Dame has an obligation to deal with the racial tension existing on this campus,” it continued.

Badin senator and chair of the Senate’s diversity committee Laura Feeney said that her committee will soon present a resolution to the Senate asking the Campus Life Council to form a task force to investigate the possibility of such a requirement.

“We’re going to make as few demands as possible and as many suggestions as possible to get the best response,” Feeney said.

In other Senate news:

u Judicial Board president Elliot Poindexter updated senators on the student body presidential elections. Poindexter reminded senators of the debates between the last two tickets, Charlie Ebersol-James Leito and Adam Istvan-Karla Bell, which took place Wednesday night. He also informed senators that the runoff election takes place today from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

u Student body president Jeremy Lao informed senators about the survey that will soon be put out by the Office of Residence Life and Housing. Lao encouraged the senators to participate in the survey. “[The survey] has lots of implications on the future of ResLife,” he said. “I encourage you, and encourage all of your constituents, to take that survey.”