Iowa State University

Inside Iowa State
Feb. 7, 1997

Second diversity forum draws crowd

by Anne Dolan
Following are selected comments from the Jan. 31 campus-wide forum to discuss diversity issues. The forum drew 220 observers and included comments from a number of ISU faculty, staff and students. About 18 students wore gags to protest university sanctions against students for participating in an unauthorized gathering in Beardshear Hall in November.

President Martin Jischke:
On a suggestion to create a multicultural center on campus: I think that's something we should talk about. Is there a desire for such a center right now? And if there is, what purposes would it serve? What would its relationship be to ongoing efforts to (create separate centers)? The question of separate centers, which have a certain identity, versus a collaborative one, is an issue to talk through.

Bill Woodman, Faculty Senate president
On the diversity climate in an organization: The guy on the loading dock experiences a very different climate from the guy in the vice president's office. A sense of climate is largely not an organizational trait.

Yolanda Hutchinson, senior in speech communication, representing students in the African American studies program
On the status of the program: We do not have any faculty members in the African American studies program. We cannot afford to wait two years down the road to have a director to bring some faculty in. Some of us are graduating.

You can't build a program if you don't have faculty members.This is something we need, not only in African American studies, but in Latino studies, Mexican American studies, whatever. We need diversity.

Rafael Rodriguez, director of Minority Student Affairs
On diversity plans: I don't agree with diversity plans. I don't think they take us anywhere. You have to live diversity. . . . In higher education, we have the opportunity and the environment to learn about diversity. But if we don't live it, why learn it?

Kayt Sunwood, temporary instructor
On health insurance coverage for same-sex couples: The chilly climate for us (lesbian and gay faculty and staff) is fostered and exacerbated by the institutionalized, heterosexist-based, discriminatory insurance practices instituted here at ISU. In a December 1995 poll of 15 universities rated best academically in the nation, only two did not have domestic partner benefits. ISU is losing some of its best and brightest due to its discrimination practices.

Jamal White, Black Student Alliance
On sanctions against members of the September 29th Movement: Earlier, someone said our leadership was taken from us, but I think the opposite is happening. I know in my eyes, Meron (Wondwosen), Theresa (Thomas), Milton (McGriff) and Allan (Nosworthy) have not been weakened. They're becoming stronger because of this ordeal. And I respect them much more and hold them in a higher esteem now.

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