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Cultural Diversity: Campus Climates And Classroom Instruction

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American Society has been and continues to become increasingly mixed, complex, and variegated in its cultural practices and ethnic make up. However, the state schools have fallen short of race goals established thirty-one years ago in a desegregation case now known as Geier v. Sundquist. The University of Tennessee at Knoxville has notoriously had one of the worst recruiting efforts for diversifying undergraduates. This realization makes the cultural atmosphere at Knoxville non-diversified resulting in a predominantly white campus. Despite recent statistics from 1993-1994, African Americans' enrollment is about 5 percent of the student body, and only 4 percent of the faculty. Moreover, American Indian, Hispanic, and Asian Americans now comprise about 5 percent of the enrollment, and international student enrollment have also maintained a fair 4 percent (Snyder 4). The University of Tennessee at Knoxville should recognize the dynamic interaction of communities and cultures that comprise contemporary America, as well as the world. Reflecting on this interaction, the university should change its curriculum and campus environment because campus climates ultimately influence the effectiveness of a diverse democracy and, therefore builds a mutually respectfully community.
I would like to see more diversity courses offered at the campus that encourages students to understand the concepts of culture and their ramifications, so students can use these for insights into and active engagements within a specific culture. In this effort, the students could discuss diversity courses at their learning, rather than keeping them peripheral to their knowledge, lives, and society. This curriculum could also assist students in developing an appreciation for and a growing sensitivity to cultures other than their own. For if the university does not value diversity and encourage a diverse climate for the students, what example will they be setting in a culture where societies continue to become increasingly mixed in its own ethnic make up.
All diversity courses should present to students the complexity and the uniqueness of the specific cultures: acquaint students with areas of similarity and the connection between cultures. In addition, these courses should help students explore the value of alternative approaches to solving the issues people confront, and involve, 'pedagogies,' which engage students and allow them to encounter others ways of learning. These cultural courses need to examine racial and ethnic diversity in the world. Also, incorporate issues of gender, differences, intolerance, inequality, justice, and power so that the students understand the interplay of these complex concepts.
The University of Tennessee tries to promote diversity on campus by offering various innovative programs such as the Minority Engineering Program, the Center for International Education, and the Women's Center. These programs do focus on some of the diversity issues, but without the diversity of various cultures on campus what really are these programs accomplishing. Many chancellors have blamed the poor showing in attracting different cultures on geographic disadvantages. Joe Johnson had stated numerous times that black undergraduates are typically located in Shelby County ' 400 miles from Knoxville (UTK Fact Book 19). Johnson had launched a scholarship program offering $10,000 for very good African-American students as an added incentive for coming to the campus. In addition, to scholarships there have been increased recruiting efforts toward targeting black high school graduates living in West Tennessee, but what about the other ethnic backgrounds.
How has the university tried to recruit Native Americans, Asian American, or Hispanic cultures to the campus? Maybe the university could offer more diversity among the faculty. (I would feel more comfortable with someone of my own ethnic background teaching me.) In addition to diversifying the faculty, one might want to look at standardized test scores. For the simple reasoning that realistically, the test has a tendency to be specifically geared toward white Americans. If there were various tests designed for African American, Asian Americans, and Hispanics maybe their test scores would be more comparable to the nationally average which ultimately is represented by the white population.
Moreover, I believe alternative approaches should be implemented. For instance, fundamental change comes from strong leadership willing to ...

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