From the archives: Diversity at MU just a buzzword

A Maneater editorial from May 5, 2006, explains that minority students today are still facing the same challenges as students 10 years ago.

We wonder what the Missouri Students Association diversity assistant is doing right now. Maybe working to add diversity as the fifth MU value. Maybe talking to someone about how great it is to be diverse.

Certainly, though, she’s probably avoiding the questions that are at the root of minority relations at this university. What can university administrators do to make MU a comfortable place for minority college students? Why, in 2006, do minorities still feel out of place at MU?

In 2005, the Legion of Black Collegians announced its demands to MU, listing the steps it wanted MU to take to make the university a more accommodating place.

It’s been a little more than a year, and the university has accomplished one of these goals.

Civil rights pioneer Lloyd Gaines will get an honorary law degree. It’s noble, but purely symbolic. Countless minority students might not even attend our university because they just don’t feel at home.

This has to stop. Diversity must move from a buzzword to a fact. The first step is simple: Stop talking about it. Start getting it done.

The diversity assistant position embodies the attitude that our student government has toward its favorite buzzword. Add another layer of effort: subtract more meaning from the principle.

University officials often seem receptive to change. That’s great, but it’s not enough. The school needs to better represent itself to minority high school students in the state.

It needs to let them know that everyone is welcome at the school, and it needs to make that as true a possible.

A black studies major, one of LBC’s better demands, is a good start. It would only cost $100,000 — a few million dollars less than some coaches stand to make each year in bonuses.

Another simple proposition is naming one of the campus’s new buildings after a prominent black person.

MU could look to a bizarrely named resident hall, such as Discovery or Excellence, as a place to start, or one of the new residence halls about to open in the fall.

It’s not hard to get along. For a university’s community, it’s the best way to learn.

Diversity, right now, is a symbol. The best words point to something tangible. MU should make diversity real.

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