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Archive for Saturday, August 17, 1991

KU EDITION

August 17, 1991

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Sherwood Thompson has a point to make. Kansas University's Office of Minority Affairs, he says, serves all students on Mount Oread.

While the office is particularly geared to serve the needs of KU's minority students, Thompson said the school's entire student population benefits from the programs he directs.

Thompson believes passionately that "minority" students won't excel and that "majority" students won't excel until they learn to work together. A sense of community, he believes, is something the KU campus must have.

Thompson, who came to KU at the beginning of the spring semester from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, said he hopes the Office of Minority Affairs will help students learn about their similarities, as well as their differences.

IN THE first issue of "Update," the office's newsletter, Thompson wrote, "The OMA under my leadership will continue to work towards creating a better climate on campus where minority concerns can be mainstreamed into university policies and activities. . .

"I maintain that achieving plurality and planning for multicultural populations will allow students to better prepare for the international marketplace and give them a greater understanding of America's changing demographics. Increased understanding and appreciation for cultural differences will make a healthly campus learning environment."

To that end, Thompson said the office is in the process of forming a multicultural program board, in which representatives of different ethnic groups will talk about enrichment programs.

Thompson said the committee will meet on a regular basis to discuss how all the groups can work together to plan commemorative events such as Black History Month.

OTHER NEW programs Thompson is excited about include the publication of a minority student directory for the 1991-92 academic year. The directory, he said, will contain information on African American, Native American, Hispanic American and Asian American students enrolled at KU.

The directory will include biographical information about the students who will participate in the directory on a voluntary basis as well as the students' special interests and skills.

By the spring semester, Thompson said the office, which has moved from the third floor of Strong Hall to Room 145, hopes to open a learning center, which Thompson said will make available "learning resources to enhance academic success."

EXPANSION of the Minority Affairs Project Outreach Program and stEp (Students Together Excelling in Education as Peers) programs also will take up much of Thompson's and associate director Norma Norman's time.

MAPOP is designed to encourage middle school and high school students in the Kansas City area to consider higher education as an option after graduation, Thomson said. The stEp program initially was designed to assist first-year and transfer students adjust to KU. Thompson said the office is expanding that program to include upperclass students and graduate students.

Thompson said one of the staff's major goals is to encourage minority students to participate in "every aspect of college life at KU."

HE SAID he wants to mainstream minority students so that all students "get a real taste of the multi-ethnicity this campus has to offer."

A South Carolina native, Thompson said he was encouraged his first semester by the "passion of change demonstrated on campus."

"Students here are interested in and willing to advance their intellectual curiousity," Thompson said.

He also said he's been told that students and faculty and staff feel more comfortable dropping by the office these days.

"I've been told that that has been one of the obvious and positive changes," Thompson said.

And he said he hopes students will continue to drop by the office.

"We need to break out of the idea that we're only here for minority students," Thompson said. "The business of minority affairs is a campus concern. We specifically gear programs to enhance minority students' success, but our overall mission is to enhance the success rate of all KU students."

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