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February 22, 2002
Vol. 43 No. 16

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Diversity needed in classroom

Diversity classes at Susquehanna are practically non-existent, according to Brian Johnson, director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs.

Johnson is looking to implement more diversity classes into the university's core curriculum.

College 101 is currently the only mandatory class at Susquehanna that focuses on diversity, according to Johnson.

"The problem is that students partake in College 101 in the first seven weeks of their freshman year," Johnson said.

"These students discuss diversity as a whole, but once they end their term, diversity is never brought up again unless they choose to take diversity-oriented classes on their own times," he added.

The core curriculum of the 2001-2002 school year consists of three main topics: personal development, intellectual skills and perspectives on the world.

These core sections include classes in diversity studies, sociology, women studies and modern languages, all which might be considered classes that teach diversity, according to Johnson.

However, Susquehanna students have the option on whether or not to take those diversity-oriented classes, leaving those with majors outside of those classes to often times never be educated on diversity.

Diversity at Susquehanna does not need to be forced into the minds of students, but insights on diversity are important for a student to grow and become a well-rounded individual, Johnson said.

According to Johnson, the two main disciplines that need diversity classes are the business and education majors.

Within those majors are the future leaders of our world, Johnson said.

"Those students need to know how to work with people of other races and ethnicities, along with understanding them," Johnson said.

"The future teachers studying at this institution should know how to work in a diverse environment that promotes multicultural lifestyles and teaches children how to work with others outside of their own races," Johnson added.

"In the future, those education students are going to be the ones who impact the lives of their students; the children that are needed to change our society," Johnson said.

The Office of Multicultural Affairs is not the only force working to add diversity into the core curriculum.

A Core Review Committee began eight years ago, and reviews what classes are important for students to take throughout their time at Susquehanna.

Also, the Strategic Planning Committee, a committee organized by President L. Jay Lemons, is interested in making a change on the Susquehanna campus regarding greater diversity. According to the committee, integration of students and faculty of all backgrounds is needed for Susquehanna to thrive as a liberal arts institution that promotes diversity.

"Implementing diversity can be hard or easy, but we must be committed to doing it," Johnson said.

"When students have a better understanding of diversity and have experience with others, then the future leaders of tomorrow will have better skills to 'bridge the gap,'" Johnson said.

Educating students on diversity will only help to break down those barriers that only produce ignorant minds, he added.

Johnson is working with a group students to implement changes.

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