More universities offering diversity courses - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

More universities offering diversity courses

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) -

Diversity issues in the U.S. have become one of the leading discussions on college campuses.

Officials at Mizzou say racism is a problem on their campus, and they're not requiring all students, faculty and staff to complete a diversity program.

This tweet was followed by a statement announcing that faculty and staff at Mizzou are now required to attend diversity and inclusion training.

In addition, all first time students are required to complete the training program before they’re allowed to register for classes.

Secretary of the Black Student Union at Southeast Missouri State University, Kevin Windham, said Mizzou is making a bold statement requiring the program.

“It should be required for SEMO students," Windham said. "I believe the University of Missouri is setting very good precedence by making the program and I think universities all over the country should adopt similar programs.”

Southeast Missouri State University's Mass Media Department has required their students complete a diversity course for some time now.

Chair of the department, Dr. Karie Hollerbach, said the department is very aware of the importance of having diversity discussions.

"Diversity is always an important topic and continues to be an important topic," she said.

Hollerboch said the diversity course has become so important, she decided to update how the class was taught.

"I realized when I looked at it closely that while it's a great course and it's very timely and very much needed, we were not offering it in the most diverse way," Hollerbach said.

In the past, the course was only taught by one professor, Dr. Tamara Zellars-Buck.

Through Hollerbach's redesign, Professor Michael Simmons was added to co-teach the course, giving the class a different perspective.

"For many this is their first exposures to a very diverse environment," Simmons said. "So to be able to communicate and to gain those perspectives from everybody is critical."

Southeast doesn't require the course for all students, however Simmons believes that should change.

"It should be apart of our overall educational package," he said. "To understand all the people, we're going to communicate with and associate with. A way that we can draw the best out of everybody and enhance communication."

Senior Olivia Snare took the class and said she agrees the course should be required.

"Why would you not want to learn about diversity and communicating with other types of people?" she said. "No matter what your major or field is, it's going to be helpful to you."

Hollerboch agreed, but said how universities address the issues should be on a case by case basis.

"I think each higher education environment has to look closely to diversity on their campuses and make the individual choice that's right for them," Hollerbach said. "There's not a one size fits all prescription."

Dr. Tamara Zellars-Buck said one word describes how it feels to see universities like Mizzou requiring a diversity course for students.

"Hopeful." she said. "If a university is aware of the situation and is aggressively and actively trying to impact positively than it gives me hope that change will manifest into society."

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