Forming cultural ‘bridge’



Darian Jones, seen here in front of the Center for Multicultural Education in Maucker Union is working with cultural group leaders to form a Multicultural Presidents’ Council

JACOB MADDEN, News Editor | [email protected]

Since the diversity forums that occurred last semester, students and faculty have been seeking to improve the cultural climate of UNI.

Senior accounting major, Darian Jones, has started by beginning to form a Multicultural Presidents’ Council.

According to Jones, the council, which is still in the brainstorming phase, will help in a few key ways to improve campus culture.

Jones explained that the idea to form a Multicultural Presidents’ Council came about after discussing ways in which UNI students can continue to tackle diversity issues after the current seniors graduate. “How can we create a structure to where people on campus that are minorities can continue to feel welcomed here?” Jones said.

Once formed, the group would be focused on retaining minority students at UNI, as well as informing all students about  diversity issues occurring on campus.

Jones clarified that the council will be a group in which leaders specifically of minority groups are going to be the main body of the organization. However, he stressed that nothing is set in stone, as the group is still in infancy as an organization.

Jones compared his idea for the Multicultural President’s Council to the College of Business’s President’s Council.

According to the UNI Business website, this organization is made up of elected student leaders from each UNI Business student organization.

Jones spoke about the possibility of having the president of each minority group be a member of the council.

“The leaders of these organizations can reach out to a broader spectrum of campus,” Jones said.

Jones noted that the group will need to have a discussion about what demographics they will be targeting.

Graduate student and industrial mathematics major Danusha Manohar said that for minority students, “it can be the tiniest issues like the kind of meat they are using in the food… or large issues like being treated differently in classroom conversation” that can affect their day-to-day experience on campus.

According to Manohar, this diversity-oriented student association would be “a nice working bridge that would help.”

Manohar cited the recent “We are One UNI” day on campus as an example of an event that would have benefitted from a multicultural organization’s input. Manohar noted that had “We Are One UNI” reached out to the International Student Association, they could have reached current international students or international alumni more easily.

A multicultural president’s association would have given “We Are One UNI” a clear path to reaching out to minority groups on campus to join their efforts.

Pragati Sharma, sophomore management information systems major, supported the proposal for a multicultural presidents’ council, saying that the group would “be a common way to communicate together.”

Jones was also clear that while this group would operate for ethnic minorities, its services could extend to students with disabilities and beyond. In addition, the group would work towards helping majority students better understand their peers.

Junior history major, Jacob Burke, supported this initiative.

“[It’s good to] embrace differences,” Burke said. “This group would help majority students learn about their fellow international students and other ethnic students, or of other minorities.”

Jonathan Cox, coordinator of minority and student diversity programs, said that Jones’s proposal is a good step for students to take but that there are still things that will need to be ironed out.

“This group would allow a broader range of students to have access to information,” Cox said.

According to Cox, the best way to solve UNI’s diversity issues are through informing, rather than “fixing” and that this group could be a great start for students to tackle these issues.

The council is meeting again on Monday, March 7 at 7 p.m. and any students are welcome to join. Jones hopes that the Multicultural President’s Council will be up and operating by next year.