Lawrence residents subjected to discriminatory acts would be given the opportunity to tell their stories publicly or privately to a city task force under plans being discussed by the group.
The Task Force on Racism, Discrimination and Human Diversity met Wednesday and decided that one of its first steps should be to provide forums that would enable it to assess the extent of discrimination in the city.
Ann Weick, who chairs the task force, said that a subcommittee of the task force has been formed to discuss how best to encourage victims of discrimination to come forward and tell their stories. But already several ideas are being bandied about.
WEICK explained that the task force wants to hear from as many people and groups of people as possible about discrimination, racism and prejudice in order to assess the current state of affairs in Lawrence. Yet, some victims of prejudice or discrimination could be less than enthusiastic about appearing at a public forum.
"We definitely want to create a public forum where these things can be aired," Weick said, "and we also want to create some type of situation where people could submit written (testimony) or perhaps a call-in forum." The latter forums, she said, would help ensure that victims wouldn't lose their confidentiality.
WEICK SAID that once the group gathers its information and assesses the local situation, "hopefully we can try to come up with some sort of creative response to help address these problems."
The task force was set up by the Lawrence City Commission in July at the request of an ad hoc work group that included faculty and administrators from Kansas University and Haskell Indian Junior College. The group began meeting in the spring, shortly after the Haskell Student Senate held a community forum to discuss the deaths of four Native Americans.
The next meeting of the task force is scheduled for 7 p.m. Sept. 26 at city hall.