Campus challenged to diversify

Heather Hall

Heather Hall

For the past few years SDSU has led a march for anyone who wants to get involved. This marks the third annual march, which started at Tompkins Alumni Center at noon and ended at the Union on Jan. 22. That’s when the Rev. Allan Schoonover addressed the audience. Schoonover marched with Martin Luther King Jr. from Montgomery to Selma, Ala., in 1965. He spoke from the Campanile Room (169) in the University Student Union.

Kari Vadis, the program adviser for the Office of Multiculturalism helped to organize this event.

“He [Schoonover] marched with Martin Luther King Jr. He had to go through some non-violent training, too,” she said.

Schoonover covered many topics including his own personal experience. His speech included “his experience with the Civil Rights Act and the socioeconomic effects of racism here in South Dakota,” Vadis said.

Yolanda Williams, the pastor at the United Methodist Center on campus, gave a prayer right before the march.

“[The prayer is] focused on social justice and making it relevant to SDSU,” Williams said.

Although SDSU accepts diversity, Williams thinks it’s something to keep in mind.

“This is my perspective: I think SDSU doesn’t have a lot of tolerance and acceptance. It’s something that needs to be worked on. If it’s not seen and not portrayed at the administration level, [on campus] it won’t filter through,” Williams said.

The question of diversity brings out various viewpoints for students and faculty members. Hua Mu, a graduate assistant from Kunming, China works in the Office of Diversity Enhancement, located in the Administration building.

“The purpose of the office is to get the university diverse and try to help the people with different backgrounds, not necessarily international students,” Mu said.

She also commented on Martin Luther King Day. “I think the presentation is better than the march because we want to know the spirit behind Mr. Luther King Jr.”

Sandy Newman, secretary for the Office of Diversity Enhancement had a different perspective.

“I think in general, as a whole, SDSU is pretty tolerant and welcoming. Diversity should always be on the agenda,” she said.

She does, however, want to see more people involved with events that capture other cultures.

“I would like to see more participation in multicultural events on campus,” said Newman.

Right now, her office is focusing on the upcoming Festival of Cultures, which will take place on Friday, April 19 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Frost Arena. For a diversity calendar, go on-line under Administration on SDSU’s main homepage ,and go to the Diversity Enhancement office for the event schedule for this semester.