Iowa City Stories

May 13, 2010

Diversity: Iowa City and the University of Iowa

Filed under: IC Stories: Avery, Diversity, Iowa City Stories — Tags: , , — a1os4wrds @ 12:05 pm

The Iowa City community has been facing some huge issues concerning diversity.
First the idea of the high schools district lines being redrawn, and secondly a new Chief Diversity officer at the University of Iowa.
The Chief Diversity Officer will be the figure head of diversity at the University and something that all candidates agree on is the fact that they cannot solve Iowa’s issue with diversity by themselves.
“Don’t hire me and expect wipe your hands and say now this is your problem…cause it won’t work.” Said candidate Terryl Ross Director for Community and Diversity.
A big part of solving the diversity issue in Iowa City as well as the University of Iowa is having the community behind the issue.
Katherine Betts Assistant Director of Diversity Programs of Cultural Centers believes that the community plays a pivotal role in increasing diversity here at Iowa.
“The community must be accepting of diverse students…and I think that’s something that many students don’t feel in the community. I mean just look at the issues of our high schools.”
With the Iowa City community and the University of Iowa so closely connected if diversity is failing in one it is most likely failing in the other.
Rene Rocha a professor at the University of Iowa thinks that in order to change the diversity in the Iowa City community, kids must be introduced at a young age to different cultures.
Rocha believes, “that many students come from Iowa with this lack of cultural acceptance simply because they are not exposed to it in their hometowns.”
In order for the diversity problem to be solved officials believe that diverse students that come into the high schools or even the University must feel that they have some type of cohesiveness with one another as well as their environment.
Nicole Nisly the Interim Chief Diversity Officer believes this to be an important part of any successful diversity program.
“If students come in and don’t feel they have someone there to rely on, they aren’t going to stick around,” said Nisly “there has to be some level of acceptance and cohesiveness between the students and the community.”
The question then becomes who will become an example of a successful diversity program first the University of Iowa or the Iowa City high schools?
Nisly said, “It’s going to take a lot of time, nothing is going to happen overnight. The state is 90 percent white, its going to take a lot patience and persistence on everyone’s part.
And this is something Chief Diversity officer candidate Ross believes in also.
“We have to be prepared for the long run, sure there are going to be bumps in the road and the true test will be where we stand after we hit those bumps.”

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