Monday, June 2, 2008

Race An Issue? OU Students Discuss Sensitive Topic

by Micah Brown

Scholars Take Bold Step

Two student scholarship groups discussed race relations at Ohio University, highlighting a serious concern that they say everyone needs to hear for the community to grow.

In the town hall setting the Cutler and Templeton Scholarshosted a form to address race issues at OU. They said it was fueled by recents acts of racism, such the controversial "race parties" that were hosted on Dr. Martin Luther King's Birthday and the Chris Yonkers Post article.

Race Talks Gets Personal

The personal stories and feelings of sadness came as the students expressed anger and frustration with race relations on campus. Many felt some of the tension was driven by the local media. One of the scholars, Jalyassa Eliason said she responded to a controversial article that was written by Yonkers, a Post columnist, who called illegal immigrants 'scum'.

"When I first read it, I personally was not offended. I thought it was a cute little sattire," said the Latina Journalism major in defense of the article. She changed her opinion after she realized the larger damage and historial significance of the word scum.

The room was packed as students, faculty and community members took the time to see what the Cutler and Templeton Scholars had to say, but some were not prepared for the sensitive topics.

"I am not saying to call or don't call people racist, but I do think people need to be labeled sometime," said African-American Freshhman Carina Turner when the topic of 'race parties' was discussed.

Templeton Scholar, Carina Turner speaks about her experiences.

Perception is Reality

The scholars introduced the crowd to a video they produced to get their point across that race relations are not perfect yet, and that racism is a problem as long as people choose to ignore it. By interviewing Blacks, Whites and Latinos the scholars hoped to get a broad perspective on the controversial topic.

As a result they discovered that some White students are not oblivious to racism, and issues of oppression, but many chose not to notice the things that make many minority students feel uncomfortable.

In addition to the short documentary, the students conducted a survey that a couple hundred students answered on The results highlighted the differences of opinion among the majority and minority groups. The Whites who responded to the survey overwhelmingly think OU is safe for other races and that race relations are good on campus. This was not the case for the minority students who answered. African-American and Hispanic students thought that race relations have a long way to go before the change is to come.

An Academic Solution to Racial Ignorance

The forum continued with a lively question and answer session. It ended with one student suggesting that the university require a cultural sensitivity course. The audience seemed to agree that such a course would be a step in the right direction.

No comments: