Racial Issues Colloquium

General Information

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Next Meeting

Currently there is no meeting scheduled.

Brief History of the Racial Issues Requirement

In the 2001-2002 academic year, St. Cloud State University adopted an ambitious new University-wide requirement that all entering freshman and transfer students take a racial issues course in their first year on campus. More than twenty professors in five departments, many hired specifically for this purpose, responded to this initiative and began to teach racial issues courses from a variety of disciplinary perspectives.

Repeated racial incidents and an on-going context of struggle around issues of racism in the mid 1990s triggered concerned students and faculty to begin meeting with the university president to discuss long-term institutional remedies. Key incidents on and around campus included: racial epithets and swastikas written on students’ dorm doors, racial threats made to a Dean and other Black administrators, carving swastikas into a faculty member’s car, and a threatened mass dis-enrollment by students of color. The goal of these initial meetings was to address, and to change, the racial climate on campus. While many ideas were discussed, a curricular response eventually emerged as an institutional response. Four criteria for the racial issues courses –understanding, education, awareness, and student growth – were outlined and defined and in 2000, the university made a commitment to the necessary resources to implement this new requirement. In addition, the focus of the courses was to be U.S. race and racial issues and while building on the important content of history, the focus was also to be on the present. It was stressed that the racial issues requirement was to address historically underrepresented “minorities” in the U.S. who experience racism on a daily basis, as opposed to European “minorities” who do not experience systematic oppression and generally benefit, instead, from white privilege.

What is happening now?

The Racial Issues Colloquium meets regularly throughout the semester. Any faculty who teaches a racial issues course is welcomed and encouraged to attend the meetings. The coordinator sends advance notification of meetings, via e-mail, indicating where and when the meetings will occur. Each year the Colloquium holds an election for the coordinator position. Working with the coordinator is one full-time graduate assistant.

A Summer Seminar is held during the first week of the second summer session. Here, a smaller group of racial issues core faculty work intensively on an issue the Colloquium has identified. Each summer focuses on a different issue.

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