GPSC asks for multicultural classes, takes stand against hate crimes

By Gus Bode

The Graduate and Professional Student Council asked the University on Tuesday to stay true to its commitment to diversity by increasing the number of multicultural classes and integrating them into the core curriculum.

The resolution was met with opposition by some committee members who wondered if requiring classes would be the best approach to resolving the issue of hate crimes.

“It’s my belief that a resolution is not needed,” said Sara Sampson, a law student from Ogden. “I don’t think that the people who are anti-diversity will be picking (the classes.)”

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The resolution was created in response to a hate crime that occurred in the residence halls in September against an SIUC freshman.

The council discussed making diversity classes required as part of the University’s core curriculum, but disagreed on whether students would be upset with the lengthening of their college careers.

But the council agreed that taking a stance against hate crimes by passing the resolution would send a strong message to the community that GPSC does not tolerate hate.

GPSC President Jon Pressley said Chancellor Walter Wendler’s “Southern at 150” plan, which is designed to make SIUC one of the top 75 public research institutions by 2019, explains the University’s commitment to diversity. That document expresses the need for such diversity classes. He also said he believes the University could do a better job dealing with diversity issues such as hate crimes.

“Any time this happens, it’s heinous,” Pressley said. “I think it’ll take lots of different ways to get the point through:that diversity should be the goal of the University.”

Many other members believed the University does not need to increase its commitment to stopping hate crimes because there have been so few reported in the last 10 years. SIUC police have received eight reports of hate crimes since 1996, only one of which was anti-gay in nature.

“Even if it’s just one, we should address it,” said Ana Velitchkova, GPSC’s vice president for Administrative Affairs. “Every now and then we have to reaffirm the values that we believe in. We cannot just forget about this issue.”

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Will Reilly, a graduate student studying political science from Chicago, said he thinks the University putting more effort into preventing hate crimes may be a waste of money.

Reilly mentioned the Committee for Diversity and Tolerance anti-bias hotline, which was established earlier this summer for victims of bias crimes to report them anonymously. It has not received a call since then.

“It’s not the best use of University money,” Reilly said.

Reporter Julie Engler can be reached at [email protected]

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