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The Dartmouth
April 15, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Rocky panel discusses formation of racial identities

Students, administrators and faculty discussed minority issues in education at a panel discussion yesterday in Rockefeller Center entitled "Teaching and Learning: A Conversation on Racial Identities."

In front of an audience of about 40 undergraduates, graduate students and faculty, the panel of 10 considered a wide range of topics during the two hour discussion, ranging from the roles of student and professor in multicultural education to the importance of fully integrating minority contributions into the curriculum at Dartmouth.

For part of the presentation, panelists focused on the position of minority students within classes. Participants agreed on the fact that some students feel pressure to not draw attention to themselves.

Emily Anadu '00 and Katharine McCarthy '00 praised the First-Year Seminar dealing with African and Asian studies that they had taken together. Anadu said that during the class, she felt empowered to speak as an individual rather than as a representative of her race.

English Professor Josna Rege, the instructor for Anadu and McCarthy's seminar, suggested that some minority students will even "self-select" themselves out of a class because they do not want to subject themselves to scrutiny.

"It's hard to be a minority in a group because everyone directs their attention to you," Patricia Amos '03 said.

Also considered by the panel was the manner in which classes deal with multicultural issues. Anadu said that in many classes, minority topics are "discussed under a bubble," set apart from the remainder of the material.

To some extent, Rege said, white students do not feel the need to come to an understanding of topics that fall outside their experiences, but minority students are constantly required to do just that.

Several of the panelists suggested that the freshmen seminar program could be revamped to offer students a better multicultural education.

Ideas included extending the seminar program throughout the freshman year and making the discussion of race, class, ethnicity, and gender a fundamental element of all seminars.

Dr. Michael Hanitchak, Director of the Native American Program and visiting instructor of Native American studies, said that it is important for minority issues to be addressed effectively in all classes, not just within the freshman seminar curriculum.

Giavanna Munnafo, director of the women's resource center, Government Professor Angelia Means and History Professor Vernon Takeshita also sat on the panel. Other students participating in the discussion were Susie Kuo '01 and Devon Ward '02.

The Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action organized the panel, which is a part of a series that will continue throughout the year. It was motivated in part by a Clinton administration effort to bring about discussions on minority issues on college campuses across the country.