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In anticipation of Tim Wise, an anti-racism educator, activist and author, coming to speak at CU, students share how they feel about CU’s diversity climate and initiatives.
The talk, sponsored by the Cultural Events Board, is to take place at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 2 in Macky Auditorium. According to a university news release, Wise has been called “one of the most brilliant, articulate and courageous critics of white privilege in the nation” and also made the list for Utne Reader’s “25 Visionaries who are Changing Your World” in 2010.
Wise’s address to CU is anticipated to shed light onto the university’s ethnic climate. CU conducts a “Student Social Climate Survey” every four years to gauge the social experiences of students from diverse ethnic groups.
According to the 2010 survey, which surveyed over 7,500 people, students reported feeling that the campus is generally friendly and welcoming.
Over 80 percent of students in the survey described feeling accepted on campus either “often” or “very often.” African American and Native American students expressed feeling slightly less welcome than all other groups; however, their satisfaction ratings fell high on the scale.
According to 2011 data from Collegeportraits.org, the ethnic racial breakdown of the CU student body consists of the following: 76 percent white, 8 percent Hispanic, 6 percent Asian, 2 percent African American/Black, 2 percent two or more races, 1 percent American Indian/Alaska Native, 1 percent Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander,, 2 percent international, and 4 percent ethnicity not reported.
The City of Boulder is less diverse than CU, according to a 2010 survey created by Boulder Economic Council, which revealed that 89.9 percent of Boulder County residents are white.
While nearly 60 percent of students thought that diversity should be a high priority for CU, only about 40 percent said that diversity was a high priority at the time of the survey.
Abdulahad Pasha, a chemical engineering major and member of the Muslim Student Association, said he feels CU is an accepting environment but the university should promote diversity more through education and awareness.
“I feel like CU is pretty welcoming,” Pasha said. “I don’t experience prejudice. I think Colorado needs to be more diverse for CU to be more diverse. I think CU can become more ethnically accepting in terms of religions and ethnic groups by having informative events and speakers.”
Funmi Oyatogun, an environmental studies major and international student from Nigeria, said things have gotten better since her freshman year.
“I realized really early that CU is not the most diverse university, but the good thing is that it is very open to diversity,” Oyatogun said. “I feel more comfortable here than I would feel in other places in the U.S.”
Jessica Laub, an international affairs major, is a member of the Cultural Events Board, which is a student organization that works to identify and fill cultural voids on campus and give underrepresented student groups a voice.
Laub said diversity is an essential part of a college campus and cross-cultural understanding.
“Diversity is important because it promotes tolerance, awareness, more general understanding of the world,” Laub said.
Laub said that she anticipates that Wise’s talk should be relatable to the CU community.
“Being that Tim Wise is a white male, I think a lot of students will be able to relate,” Laub said.
In an effort to address low enrollment from diverse ethnic groups at CU, the Office of Diversity, Equity and Community Engagement works through Affirmative Action Programs and the Blueprint for Action, a program established in 1998 to “enhance the diversity of the Boulder campus.”
Proposals to increase campus diversity will be discussed at the 2012 Diversity and Inclusion Summit by the Diversity and Inclusion Planning Committee on Nov. 13, 14 and 15. The theme for this year’s summit is “AMP it Up: Awareness, Movement and Practice.”
Tickets to Wise’s talk are free for students and may be picked up across from Baby Does in the UMC with a valid BuffOne Card from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Lilli Dellheim at Lilli.firstname.lastname@example.org.