Philadelphia-area college students converged on the University this weekend for four days of intense, sometimes emotional discussions about race and predjudice -- in preparation for a year-long campaign to start diversity awareness programs on their campuses. Common Ground: Building on the Strength of Diversity, was attended by approximately 65 students from the University, Haverford, Bryn Mawr and Swarthmore colleges and Temple and Drexel universities. It was sponsored by the American Association of University Students. Two students from each college were selected last week to be undergraduate diversity facilitators -- liaisons between their campuses and the Philadelphia-based AAUS. The other participants will form part of campus working groups, and will help facilitators start campus diversity awareness programs. Throughout the four-day institute, students discussed prejudices and how they can facilitate diversity awareness on their individual campuses. College junior Nancy Kupfer and College freshman Grace Esteban, the University's facilitators, both said they thought Saturday's seminar on "prejudice-reduction" was the most important part of the weekend. The emotional session allowed students to vent their feelings about prejudices and talk about their experiences in dealing with racism. It was moderated by the National Coalition Building Institute, an organization which specializes in this kind of training. "I learned that everyone is learning to be proud of their cultural identities," Kupfer said. "I felt like I was helping people increase their own cultural sensitivity." Kupfer, the president of Eracism, said the session made her realize it is important to see people as individuals in order to get beyond stereotypes. Esteban said yesterday that she is "apprehensive" about her one-year tour of duty as a facilitator. The freshman, who is actively involved in several campus organizations, said the biggest challenge will be to increase awareness of prejudices and discrimination. "Everyone has feelings of prejudice even if they don't know it," she said. "We need to make people aware of it and then we can fix it." The two students said they did not yet know what types of programs they will organize.Comments powered by Disqus
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