Dear BI Career Consultant:
What are some practical ways that the office of minority affairs/diversity can help Black
and Hispanic students forge partnerships and positive relations on campus?
Many campuses are in transition; their makeup is changing. The students they serve are different than a few years ago. And a few years from now many campuses will be transformed again. These changes are not transitions due to huge capital programs to make over the physical landscape, or changes due to transitions in academic programs that improve the “quality” of our academic programs and institutions. They are changes in the makeup of students who attend our institutions of higher education.
Some view these changes with apprehension, dismay, and even fright. Here at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) and the Office of Minority Student Affairs, we view these changes as opportunities, and long overdue. Many campuses have found their own ways of preparing for the advent of large numbers of students who historically have not had access to Research I institutions. At UIUC, these students are African American, Latino/a and American Indian students. Many campuses also have found ways of developing programs that are inclusive of all the students that they serve.
At UIUC, we foster cooperation among our students by offering programs that cater directly to their needs, based on focus groups, parent and student surveys and other assessment tools. And we involve students in the delivery of these services wherever practicable. These services include: orientation and an informational series; a leadership institute; advisement groups based on major or special interest; staff advisement for pre-professional student organizations; and a “common” support system for all students.
We are proactive and do not leave to chance that students will be included simply because the service is available. We market our services to students. It may be taken for granted that if an office serves minority populations it is automatic that all its constituencies would be addressed without making any special effort. It is not true, just as it is not necessarily true that institutions not accustomed to serving minority populations generally would have programs and services that address their particular needs.
Here at the Office of Minority Students Affairs we must constantly assess the services we provide and ensure that all of our students are knowledgeable about the issues that underrepresented students face at predominately White colleges and universities. We provide resource persons for our students from culturally diverse backgrounds. However, the majority are African American and Latino/a persons who are tutors, graduate and peer counselors and staff. Since the primary goal of our office is to enhance the educational environment and graduation rate of students, our efforts are very consistent with the university’s efforts to increase and embrace diversity on our campus.
Office of Minority Student Affairs
University of Illinois at Urbana-
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