Forum discusses minority issues

Event sponsored by Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity focuses on diversity.

Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity hosted a diversity forum for Ball State students on Monday night as a part of its' week of events.

The purpose of the forum was for students to be able to discuss the daily issues of being a minority on campus, and focused on topics such as being the only minority in a classroom and the pressures of having to be the representative. Tanya Dahms, a doctoral intern at the Counseling Center, said the panel discussion was very interactive.

"There was a lot of energy around the things that were talked about," Dahms said. "The people who were here seemed to participate and were active in the discussion. A lot of issues did come up, but it seemed like, with any discussion of diversity, it was kind of a first step."

Senior Irving Washington, president of Phi Beta Sigma, agrees.

"It definitely served its purpose because people got to hear stories similar to their own, as far as dealing with being a minority at Ball State," Washington said. "It allowed me to think about things I hadn't thought about before."

Senior Aric Lewis said the issues discussed were issues that any person of color could relate to, whether it is dealing with stereotypes or dealing with those who are "less than well educated about other cultures." He also said diversity is a topic that needs more focus from the university.

"Diversity shouldn't be looked at as a buzzword, it's a reality," Lewis said. "Sooner or later you are going to have to deal with it. Some people seem to wait until it smacks them in the face."

Freshman Erykah Greene said although it gave the students the opportunity to clear the air about certain issues, the forum would have been nicer if it were less biased.

"It was like preaching to the choir," Greene said. "The audience was predominantly black, and we know the issues already."

Senior Jason Anderson agrees.

"It needed to be more diverse for it to have an impact," he said.

The students all agreed that the topic of diversity is one that needs more discussion and more attention on the campus, not just in light of the lack of diversity at the forum. Anderson suggested the panel discussions should become more frequent.

"Having it once won't make a difference," Anderson said. "I think it should be an on-going thing, and make it known that anybody can come, that it's not just for minority students. It is for all races."


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