Minority students express concerns

A coalition of IU minority students voiced requests for expanded academic and advocacy during the IU Board of Trustees’ Campus Community Committee meeting Friday in the Indiana Memorial Union’s Georgian Room.

Representatives from griot, Latinos Unidos IU, the IU Black Student Union and the IU Asian American Association addressed a number of issues facing minority students at IU, and they focused on the shortcomings of the Chicano-Riqueno Studies program, as well as the need for an Asian-American advocacy dean.

Members of the coalition announced their intention to circulate a petition requesting the creation of a Latinos Studies program. The University offers courses in Spanish and Latin American Studies under the Chicano Requeno Studies program, but LUIU member Cristina Rocha said the program doesn’t meet with the needs of Latinos or the student body as a whole.

“If I wanted to get a minor in the Chicano-Riqueno studies program, it would take me an awfully long time to complete it because, of the courses that are offered each semester, there aren’t that many,” Rocha said, “None of (the Spanish or Latin American studies courses) has to do with social or economic problems that face Latinos in the United States today.”

Griot co-editor junior Ryan Vertner said Afro-American Studies courses have allowed him to understand what it means to be African-American as well as American, and Latino students deserve the same opportunity for self examination.

“(The Trustees’) names should be the first names on the petition to show that you want to give a growing minority the opportunity to forge a consciousness out of a university education, which is essentially what a university education is all about,” Vertner said.

The Trustees also heard concerns from the Asian -American community. Junior Joon Park, president of Asian American Association, discussed his proposal for an Asian-American advocacy dean as part of the Strategic Direction Charter. He said the advocacy office would help combat stereotypes of Asian Americans.

“IU has never supported the Asian American community. The only reason the Asian-American community is still active on campus is solely because of student activists.” Park said. “This proposal will give us, for the first time, the opportunity to create our own identity, instead of having an identity created for use by others.”

The coalition’s appearance was part of what was originally scheduled as a “town meeting” by Trustee officials, and was to be held in the IMU East Lounge. Trustee and IU law student Frank Otte chaired the committee, and he apologized for the limited time the group received because of discussions of problems with Halls of Residence.

“I appreciate your support and activism that we’ve seen here today,” Otte said. “I would encourage each and every one of you, since we seem to have a plate full all the sudden, to pursue them and remind the Board of Trustees as well as administrators of your efforts.

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