The Lawrence City Commission will begin selecting a task force to study racism, discrimination and cultural diversity in the city.
Members of an ad hoc work group, including Bob Martin, Haskell Indian Junior College president; Dan Wildcat, a Haskell faculty member; Ann Weick, dean of Kansas University's School of Social Welfare; and Edward Canda, a KU faculty member, met Monday afternoon in a study session with commissioners to explain their request for the task force.
Weick told commissioners that the ad hoc group had been meeting since early spring, shortly after the Haskell Student Senate held a community forum to discuss the deaths of four American Indians. The ad hoc group initially included faculty and administration representatives from Haskell, KU and the Lawrence Indian Center, but later grew to include representatives from the city's Human Relations Commission and a staff member from the city manager's office.
The ad hoc group, she said, decided that the issues of racism and discrimination could best be addressed on a citywide basis.
"These aren't just campus issues," Weick explained to commissioners, "but city issues."
AS RECOMMENDED by the ad hoc group, the task force would include representatives from a variety of ethnic, gender-related and socio-economic backgrounds.
The task force would have several charges including:
Reviewing and assessing the impact of recommendations made in a 1972 "Report of Community Relations Steering Committee."
Identifying and assessing racial, ethnic, religious and other minority group concerns regarding prejudice and discrimination in Lawrence.
Identifying community strengths, resources and potential for creative and constructive multicultural relations.
Making recommendations to KU, Haskell and the city for policies, procedures and other proactive educational programs to increase the awareness and appreciation of all community members of the multicultural nature of Lawrence.
COMMISSIONER Mike Rundle said he hoped the task force might be able to help implement a program patterned after Kansas City's "Harmony in a World of Differences."
Mayor Shirley Martin-Smith asked commissioners to begin submitting names of people to be considered for appointment to the task force. The commission is tentatively slated to discuss officially forming the group at its July 24 meeting.