The Avenue

Multiculturalism Grows at DCP

Jaileen Rodriguez, Senior Writer

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Diversity has declined at DePaul College Prep (DCP) ever since the name Gordon Tech was changed. Also, classes like “African American Studies” were removed from the courses once available at Gordon Tech.

Today at DCP, courses like “World American Studies” are available that teach your everyday European and American history. These lessons include the same information everyone’s been learning in their history classes since elementary school.

Last year, DCP’s Black Student Union gathered to discuss ways to promote diversity and bring awareness to the lack of diversity, not only within the student body but also the staff. DCP’s staff has only one black member and two Latina teachers. With this idea circling around; BSU decided to propose this course to the Department of Chairpersons.

“Last year our Black Student Union club spent a lot of time discussing strategies for bringing more diverse perspectives to our school’s academic curriculum. We thought that a course that incorporated history for a variety of cultural perspectives would be valuable to DePaul Prep students. We decided to focus on culture and Christianity so that it could be offered in the Theology department since I happen to be the department chairperson and can approve new courses in the department. Next, we developed a course description and I presented it to the instructional leadership team, which is made up of the various department chairpersons. That group approved the course, so we developed the syllabus and offered it for this semester. It was a theology elective, but we still ended up with 30 students, either by choice of by default, which has made it an interesting experience”. Said Patrick Dwyer, teacher, head of BSU, and the Theology department.

 BSU could not stress enough the importance that a class like this could have for minorities within DCP’s student community. The club itself is filled with minorities that pushed for this course because they saw importance of expanding knowledge about different cultures.

Diversity is so important for minorities because it gives us a sense of comfortability. In a society that already separates us, we do not want to stand out in a crowd, especially not one where our main priority is being educated”. Said Naomi Abraham, a senior at DCP and BSU leader

 The Multiculturalism class was filled with students from all races, which was a goal for BSU to have everyone learn about various cultures. This course did offer many pros of course but also a few cons.

There are many pros and cons, but I would say that the biggest pro is that this class gave students of color a voice in class discussions and topics covered and also provided an opportunity to see themselves reflected in the curriculum more centrally. The cons were having a large class that made some aspects of discussion difficult. The other challenge is dealing with defensiveness of the part of some students, in many cases white students, who feel that learning about other cultures may be less legitimate or may threaten their own identity in some way, oftentimes indirectly without even being aware of why they feel this defensiveness or what to do about it”. Said Dwyer. 

This class was chosen to shed light on those cultures and ethnicities that are continually marginalized throughout society. There have been several incidents where racial slurs have been said and nothing was done by the school.

Providing a safe place for minorities to speak on their culture and learn about others is important to establish that there is more history than just European and American.

DCP administration has also met with student leaders from BSU and other clubs to discuss how to create a better atmosphere. The topic of microaggression has been brought to the administrations attention, as this is a problem within the student body. There is talk about having “micro-aggression” seminars with the students; to inform about how to avoid these.

The Multiculturalism class was given as a one semester elective for juniors and seniors. A few students were bothered as to the fact that this class did not receive a full year syllabus.

BSU has worked hard to bring awareness to the lack of diversity and this class was just their first big step.

I would say it was successful for two reasons. First, that the course did happen as we proposed showed that it was a good idea that we followed through on effectively.  Second, it was a success based on the feedback I’ve gotten from BSU members, who were the primary target audience for the class. Overall, I think we were successful in getting students to think about their own identity and the importance of multiculturalism.  On the other hand, I think I was less successful in achieving the content-based goals of the class around students learning about particular cultures, movements, and individuals.  I think students learned for their own presentations, but I’m not sure they’ll remember much about the other topics and the readings, which is disappointing. There was also not as much group work or collaboration as I had hoped, so there is definitely room for growth if and when we offer this class again in the future”. Added Mr. Dwyer. 

All in all, many colored students enjoyed the class and how their own identities were taught and shared. This course is a very beneficial way to promote diversity and bring a sense of belonging to colored students.  

 

 

 

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Multiculturalism Grows at DCP