New Intercultural Council Begins Work

By Sean Smith
Staff Writer

The revamped University Intercultural Council held its first meeting of the academic year on Oct. 28, and tackled several initiatives related to cultural diversity on campus.

Chaired by Academic Vice President and Dean of Faculties William B. Neenan, SJ, and Vice President for Student Affairs Kevin P. Duffy, the council is responsible for fostering regular student-administration communication about racial matters and to make sure that such issues are brought to the attention of proper University officials for response.

In a letter to the University community on campus race relations earlier this year, University President William P. Leahy, SJ, announced that Fr. Neenan and Duffy would reorganize and strengthen the council. Its members now include delegates from registered AHANA organizations, the Undergraduate Government of Boston College, the Graduate Student Association, as well as administrators, faculty and staff.

"We're off to a very positive start," said Duffy in an interview after the meeting was held. "It was a good session with some productive discussion, and we hope to build upon that as we gather each month."

UIC members echoed Duffy's comments. "One of the biggest benefits of the council is that students have far more of a direct voice to the administration," said Residence Hall Director Akima Rogers. "The UIC can act as a foundation for reflection and dialogue on race, in a format that involves many voices on campus."

"It's headed in a good direction," said AHANA Leadership Council President Elsie Lai '98, a council member. "We did a lot of brainstorming, and there are definitely some good ideas for us to work on that will enable the council to get input on how to raise issues and spread information about race."

Among other projects and activities, Duffy said, the UIC is developing plans for a network of administrators and staff to serve as counselors for persons who report being subjected to racial incidents. Like the Sexual Assault Network, members of the proposed network would be available for crises or emergencies 24 hours a day, offer assistance in contacting appropriate resources or authorities, and provide support and guidance during the University judicial process.

"The network would be another avenue to address concerns over racial harassment," Duffy said. "It's a way for members of the University community to feel less threatened, and to feel that they're not alone in responding to racial incidents."

The UIC also is compiling and updating a list of special programs and activities which deal at least in part with raising cultural awareness, fostering pluralism and celebrating diversity of races and cultures within the University community. The list includes events such as the Human Resources Diversity Awareness workshops, a recent campus lecture by Ilyasah Shabazz, daughter of the late Malcolm X, the "Intercultural Cafe" series, and a AHANA Career Night.

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