The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

Minority alumni discuss diversity, university’s future

Although there have been controversies on campus concerningrace, namely the affirmative action bake sale, KERA news directorYolette Garcia told the audience at a minority alumni paneldiscussion that they were to focus on what life at SMU shouldstrive to become.

About 20 faculty members and students gathered in theHughes-Trigg Commons on Thursday evening to hear six alumni sharetheir experiences at SMU.

“Sometimes I felt there was a wall where there should be adoor,” Herbie Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez, who graduated last year, went to a racially diversearts high school and was shocked when he came to SMU.

“I remember coming to AARO and being the only non-whitestudent in my AARO group,” Gonzalez said.

To deal with feelings of separation, former student body vicepresident Michael Waters believes that ethnic organizations such asthe Association of Black Students are necessary. They allow somestudents to have a home away from home. Although Waters was amember of ABS, he said that he did not want to participateexclusively in those organizations.

Racial tension

Waters said that there was still racial tension on campus, asevident in the affirmative action bake sale and his experienceswith other students who asked whether he was a member of thebasketball team.

Diane Tran said that she had to deal with the stereotype of thesmart Asian student.

“With that label being placed upon you, it almostchallenges you to do better,” she said.

Garcia asked the panel if having an open forum would improve thesituation.

“I don’t know if we’re quite ready for thatdiscussion,” Waters said. “It’s going to get uglybefore it gets pretty. … It will require people to air allprejudices, all stereotypes.”

Making improvements

The panelists said that they had positive experiences at SMU andlearned more about students of different cultures by gettinginvolved in student activities.

In order for faculty to make the classroom experience morewelcoming, Sherna Armstrong, a professor of voice at NavarroCollege, said that professors should broaden their idea of aminority, saying that the term doesn’t just include studentsof color but women with children and men over the traditionalage.

Waters suggested that professors, in addition to continuing tobe supportive, should take into account their syllabi.

“Include a diversity of authors that have madecontribution in your fields,” he said.

Some of the alumni agreed that the university needed to improveits public relations with the minority community in south Dallas,who may see SMU as a place where they are not welcomed.

“If the community here can’t get comfortable withthe institution, what does that say about the institution?”Garcia said.

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