Conference will examine bigotry

by Colin Grey | 11/5/93 6:00am

Students and professors from around the Ivy League will come to Dartmouth early next week to discuss strategies for reducing racism and prejudice on college campuses.

"Alleviating Bigotry on Campus," a conference sponsored by the Rockefeller Center for the Social Sciences, begins Sunday and will continue through next Thursday.

The conference aims to make the student leaders of the Ivy League colleges aware of the importance of bigotry and prejudice by approaching the issue on a practical and intellectual level.

"The idea is to get teams of administrators and students from Ivy institutions to explore bigotry in a historical, intellectual and cultural context and to provide opportunities for teams to explore bigotry at a personal level," said Dean of Students Lee Pelton, "So that when they leave the conference, they will understand bigotry in a personal sense."

The Anti-Defamation League's A World of Difference Institute will facilitate the conference which will include programs on "Making Critical Decisions," "Differences and Similarities" and "Identifying the Issues."

Several workshops will focus on developing action plans for combating bigotry on college campuses.

"We're looking to actually have an impact with the action planning workshops," said George Demko, the director of the Rockefeller Center. "We're looking for a ripple effect. We hope the participants will go back to their campuses and relay information and techniques they learn here."

The conference will deal with more than racial bigotry, according to Sociology Professor Raymond Hall, who heads the Program for the Study of Intergroup Conflict in Multinational States.

Hall will coordinate the academic part of the conference and will give a speech called "Bigotry and Prejudice: A Global Perspective."

Art History Professor Robert McGrath, English Professor William Cook and David Lindgren, the associate dean of the faculty for the social sciences, will discuss various intellectual aspects of the problem of bigotry.

"I will be dealing with the question of what is beautiful or attractive. To what extent can we tolerate an alternative to what's normally considered beautiful," McGrath said.

The conference will be open to any professors who request invitations, to select students and to the hosts of students from other colleges.

Since this is only a pilot project, there is not enough room to allow everyone to attend the conference, but in the future organizers hope to expand the conference so more students can participate, Demko said.

"We're planning for it to become an annual event," Demko said.

Demko, Hall and Caryl Stern of the Anti-Defamation League came up with the idea for a conference while in Moscow attending a conference on "Intergroup Conflicts in Multi-National States" during the summer of 1991.

"I'm certain that the ideas and actions of the conference will manifest themselves in some way on campus, informal or formal," Pelton said.