Nearly a year after students protested a controversial Benton mural panel, IUB Chancellor Sharon Brehm reported Tuesday on the problems and successes in diversity as part of the campus's first annual "State of Diversity" address.
The main focus of Brehm's speech was the tension over the mural in Woodburn Hall 100, which depicts Ku Klux Klan members burning a cross in the background. The painting, by Thomas Hart Benton, is one of a series on the history of Indiana. Brehm reiterated her decision to keep the mural, citing that "commitment to diversity and commitment to freedom of expression are interdependent."
Brehm said IU will also promote more educational programs to provide a context for the mural. Dean of Faculties Moya Andrews created new videos about the mural which are mandated for freshmen orientation and the first day of classes for sections in the classroom.
Brehm also noted she would support more art on campus -- especially multicultural art.
"Actually, the Benton mural controversy helped us recognize an opportunity," Brehm said. "To put Bloomington on the national and international map as a place where multicultural art flourishes in the midst of a campus widely recognized for its cultural and artistic resources."
One of the multicultural paintings already obtained is a portrait of recently deceased IU African-American studies leader Herman Hudson, placed in Woodburn Hall 100 near the controversial mural panel.
Brehm noted that IU already has many positive multicultural arts programs such as IU Soul Revue, African-American Dance Ensemble and the Black Film Center/Archive.
At the opening for Arts Week last January, Brehm unveiled her One for Diversity Fund, which set a goal raising $500,000 over the next three years. In order to raise the funds, one program called "A Dollar for Diversity" is collecting small donations from student organizations for this cause.
Brehm said a large number of student participation will also aid in cohesion among cultures.
"By the number who participate, as well by the amount of money we raise, we can send a very strong message about the campus commitment to diversity as to the arts," she said.
In the next part of her presentation, Brehm displayed statistics which reflected the problems and successes regarding diversity at IU.
In terms of faculty, Brehm said IU made many positive changes, such as increasing tenured minority faculty by four percent since 1993.
Some of the statistics Brehm presented showed little change or increased problems. Minorities only make up six percent of the IUB staff, only a one percent increase since 1996. New undergraduates are 88 percent white and the percentage of black students in Bloomington has decreased from 5.3 percent in 1993 to 3.7 percent in 2002.
Many students showed concern at these revelations.
"The statistics were extremely disappointing," Black Student Union member Keeyon Tate said. "There is still so little diversity on campus. When I look around and there are just white faces in all of my classes there is a problem."
Still, others felt they showed a direction in which IU must continue to strive.
"I was pleased that she presented a lot of valuable information," said Charlie Nelms, vice president for student development and diversity. "It is important to look at all the facts and see what the campus can improve on."
Faculty members also said they felt it was important to communicate with the public.
"I think she has done an excellent job on identifying the problems we are working towards correcting," said Portia Maultsby, IU professor of ethnomusicology.
BSU President Gerald Mitchell, who protested the Benton mural last spring, said he feels more can be done than a simple speech.
"I guess she did exactly what she was supposed to do," Mitchell said. "She presented the problems, but there is still much to do."
At the end of the meeting, as the audience stood up to exit, the IU Coalition of Black Student Organizations and Programs announced to the crowd that it was unsatisfied with the state of diversity on campus.
"Diversity is a nonchalant term that is thrown around," junior Carolyn Randolph said, demanding action on campus.
After the meeting, the Coalition passed out fliers which outlined issues it wishes would be addressed. Among these is making one African-American Studies literature course equivalent to W131, the mandatory intensive writing course. The Coalition also wanted to increase the number of diverse professors outside of African-American Studies and Latino Studies departments, extending hours for the Black Culture Center Library, and making "Conversations on Race" a mandatory course for graduation.
Despite these complaints by students, Brehm said following the speech that she hopes to focus on the campus's positive progress.
"I think it's very important to not overlook the successes the campus has had," Brehm said. "They provide hope and a positive way to attack these issues"
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