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Racism on Campuses

The Times is to be commended for its strong editorial.

We live in an increasingly multiethnic country. Long gone are the days when predominantly white college students could graduate into a world where they need not interact with nonwhites. That being the case, long gone are the days when colleges could be a place where white students need not live with or study about nonwhites. It was never right. Increasingly, it doesn’t even make sense.

Your editorial cites a Stanford study recommending required ethnic studies courses for undergrads. As you point out, few students take classes about facets of American culture other than “their own.” Many students experience little or no interaction with other ethnic groups and learn little or nothing about them in their elementary and secondary years.

This ignorance about others, combined with residential separateness during their formative years, breeds much of the racial tensions we see growing on increasingly multiethnic college campuses--especially as young people are just beginning to learn who they are themselves. Campus life is a laboratory where more than academics must be learned.

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Pro-active programs to encourage understanding and appreciation of diversity must be accompanied by courses for undergraduates about people and cultures other than their own. And they must be required courses, like English and mathematics, to be effective and to round out a college education.

Many other pro-active steps are necessary, but at least let’s give college students an intercultural education and experience. This would be a great contribution to reducing the alarming growth of racism in America. It’s a step we must take--and soon.

JERRY FREEDMAN HABUSH

Associate Executive Director

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National Conference

of Christians and Jews

Los Angeles


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