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Committee on Equal Opportunity

EQ.06.01 Annual Report for 2005-06

(Final - Information)

The Senate Committee on Equal Opportunity (EQ) is responsible for developing, encouraging, and evaluating the development of equal opportunity and affirmative action programs and guidelines that are intended to increase the numbers, and improve the status, of minority groups in the University community. The issues concluded or considered at length by EQ during the 2005-06 academic year are summarized below.

I. North Central Association (NCA) and Chief Illiniwek

In Spring ’05, Interim Chancellor Herman visited EQ and shared his plans for addressing the NCA’s comments regarding the educational impact of Chief Illiniwek on our campus. He informed EQ that a committee of faculty and community experts would be formed to study the issue during 2005-06. On behalf of EQ, the Chair offered to serve on the committee as an objective reviewer of the process. Interim Chancellor Herman and former Senate Executive Chair Michael Grossman appointed Chair Alston to the committee as an ex officio member.

Committee members consisted of chairperson Lizanne DeStanfano (Professor, Educational Psychology), Tim Liao (Professor and Head of Sociology), Joseph
Podlasek (Executive Director, American Indian Center of Chicago), Elaine Shpungin (Director, Psychological Services Center), and William Trent (Professor, Educational Policy Studies and Sociology). The committee met during this academic year (2005-06) to design a study of the educational impacts of Chief Illiniwek. As an ex officio member, Chair Alston attended several meetings to voice EQ’s suggestions for the study. The final design (see Attachment A) was shared with current Senate Executive Chair Vernon Burton. He convened a special meeting of the Senate Executive Committee (SEC) to discuss the design and potential outcomes of the study. Numerous SEC members expressed concerns about the design and intent of the study, and Burton agreed to invite Chancellor Herman to the next regularly scheduled SEC meeting to offer clarification concerning the proposed study. Upon hearing the concerns and recommendations of the SEC, Chancellor Herman agreed to delay a decision regarding the study until the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) responds to the University’s most recent grievances concerning sanctions against UIUC and Chief Illiniwek. However, Chancellor Herman noted that it is probably unwise to completely ignore the NCA’s comments and observations. If the proposed study is not completed, he suggested an obligation by the University to address the NCA’s concerns in some manner eventually.

II. Student Forum/Town Hall Meeting on Social Segregation at UIUC

EQ has directed most of its attention this year toward planning a campus-wide forum on social segregation among students (see Attachment B). The forum will consist of a facilitator (Coleman Evans, Doctoral Candidate in Educational Policy Studies) directing an open discussion among undergraduate and graduate participants in a town hall meeting format. The purpose of the forum is to explore factors which contribute to self and imposed segregation of students by racial, ethnic, and other cultural differences.

For example, it is still common for students to congregate along racial lines while dining in residence hall cafeterias or participating in recreational activities on weekends. Moreover, there remain few instances of minority or majority students joining each other’s Greek organization and clubs. It is important to note that the idea for the forum was recommended by current and former student representatives on EQ and by other student leaders who met with EQ over the past years.

EQ contemplated the forum for nearly two years. Chair Alston was determined to make sure it was organized and delivered this academic year. It is scheduled for April 10, 2006 and will be taped live at WILL-TV. A DVD of the event will be available for subsequent viewing by organizations on campus. In addition, WILL-TV has agreed to include the forum in it regular programming for viewing by the public on later dates. The Chancellor’s Office has provided funding to defray the costs associated with marketing the event and taping at WILL. Several student organizations and University departments have agreed to show their support of the forum by serving as co-sponsors. The forum has real implications for improving the social interaction of students from different backgrounds, thereby enhancing the entire cultural climate on campus.

Next year, EQ will discuss, among other things, how the videos of the forum could be used programmatically in the future, whether in classrooms, residence halls, or other locations.

Reginald Alston, Chair
Joe Danavi
Belden Fields
Gary Kesler
Guillermo Mendoza
Zenobia Ravji
Ellie Tewksbury
Tiffany White