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Tuesday October 10, 2000

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Diversity included in Intentional Learning Center programs

By Emily Severson

Arizona Daily Wildcat

Students participated in activities relating to race, gender and disability

This year residential education held diversity meetings for the first time as part of their Intentional Learning Center programs in the University of Arizona residence halls.

The subjects covered were disability, gender, sexuality and race.

The diversity seminars were sponsored by the east-area dorms and Coronado. The east-area dorms include Hopi, Graham-Greenlee, Apache- Santa Cruz, La Paz, and the Stadium residence halls.

Last year, the Intentional Learning Center committee recommend to residence education that it provide diversity programming for a better learning experience, said Greg Ziebell, an assistant director of residential education.

The purpose of the race and culture seminar was to make people more aware of stereotypes.

All the seminars were led by Resident Assistants and some members of Beyond Tolerance.

The race and culture seminar was led by B.J. Cordova, an environmental science senior, and Patrick Mooney, an engineering mathematics junior.

"The general purpose of the seminar is for the students to realize that not everyone is on the same page," Mooney said.

The students that attended the seminar were required to identify what they thought were masculine and feminine characteristics and then define the differences between sex and gender.

One activity led by Cordova required the students to stand on a line and then move to an agree side or a disagree side according to how they felt about statements that were read.

Some of the statements included were that women should never be religious power figures, boys should play on sports teams and girls should be dancers, little infant girls should wear pink clothes, infant boys should wear blue clothes, women should be petite, pretty and quiet, men are good drivers and only men should be president.

Mooney read poems to the students written by people of various genders and cultures and students were asked to react to them.

"I was impressed with the turnout and think it went well, I think we reached people in the audience," Mooney said.

"I think the disagree/agree activity was cool because everyone had an opinion, with the poems not everyone was involved," said Matt Van Derlaske, a pre-education freshman.

Another diversity meeting regarding race began with Resident Assistants and members of Beyond Tolerance performing skits representing racial stereotypes.

The skits were followed by group discussions in which students were asked to share their opinion of the skits and if they had ever felt discriminated against.

There was some sentiment at the meeting that the UA has far less diversity than other schools.

The UA has about 25 percent total minorities, but some of the students felt that some ethnic groups are underrepresented. African American students, for example, are only 2.8 percent of the undergraduate population.

"For me personally, the meeting had great dialogue and everyone was pretty honest about how they felt," said Travis Lane, a political science junior and member of Beyond Tolerance.

About 15 students attended the meeting.

"I think it went really well, it is a hands-on program, even if a small amount of people show up, it can make a difference," said Elise Herman, a family studies and sociology junior and RA at Graham-Greenlee.

Many of the students that attended the race and culture meetings were required to be there for success express class requirements.