Representatives from a national student organization are hoping to help students expand the University's diversity awareness programming through a multi-university institute to be held on campus next month. The American Association of University Students is organizing the four-day, independent diversity awareness institute, which organizers say will complement the University's own diversity awareness program. The conference, titled Common Ground: Building on the Strength of Diversity, will consist of a series of seminars and discussions about increasing diversity awareness on college campuses. Students from the University, Temple and Drexel universities, and Bryn Mawr, Haverford and Swarthmore colleges have been invited to attend the event, to be held November 1 through 4 at the Law School. The program is designed to help participants organize student-initiated diversity awareness programs on their campuses and to build a network between the schools. Next month's program is AAUS's first ever, but organizers said they plan to conduct the diversity institute around the country. Vice Provost for University Life Kim Morrisson said last night that she thinks the AAUS' program will benefit the University because it "attempts to explore the issue of diversity." "I think that obviously this campus right now is quite sensitized to these issues so people will be receptive to the program," Morrisson said. The AAUS will choose two students from applicants from each school to coordinate organization of diversity programs on their campus and to act as mediators between the school and the national organization. Applicants not selected, as well as other students who register, can become part of each school's campus working group, and will assist the facilitators in arranging diversity programs. Organizers said approximately 20 students have applied to be facilitators, adding that they have received between 50 and 100 program registration forms. The program, which planners said will be a motivational session for the students, will center around racism, sexism, homophobia and religious and sexual intolerance on college campuses. The AAUS is advertising the institute by postering campuses with black and white placards listing 32 commonly used abusive terms. Temple University administrators forbade the AAUS from displaying the poster, fearing that it would offend students and faculty members. According to Lisa Jeter, Director of "Common Ground," the student facilitators will be charged with developing new diversity programming or supporting current efforts at their schools. She said the AAUS will encourage both single-campus and cross-campus events. Jeter said she is disappointed that more minority students have not applied to the program. "We're not getting a very good response from the minority community," the director said. "We hope for a very large turnout from minority students." College sophomore Stacey Kirkland said last night that she may apply to be a facilitator. "My being an African-American woman makes it especially important for me to be concerned with issues of diversity," Kirkland said. AAUS Executive Director Thomas Goldstein said this week that his program will award faciliators showing the most initiative $5000 to support diversity programming at their school. Kent State University senior Dorn Wenninger, a diversity awareness organizer who is half-Japanese, half-Danish and adopted, will speak on a panel at the program about his experiences as a minority and activist. Saying he hopes the conference's participants can learn from his experiences, the Kent State senior added that he will detail the importance of diversity on campuses across the country. "Race-related and gender issues are on top of national awareness right now, and it's something that's been neglected in the past," Wenninger said.Comments powered by Disqus
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