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April 28, 1995 - Image 18

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1995-04-28

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

College Presidents
Back Multiculturalism

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en thousand Michigan
State University students
call the dorms of MSU
their home away from
home. Of those students, only one
informed the university that he
keeps kosher.
Now, when the school sends a
truck to Detroit's Eastern Mar-
ket to pick up the meat served in
on-campus cafeterias, it stops at
Sperber's Kosher Catering to pick
up meals for the student who ob-
serves the laws of kashrut.
To that student, P.J. Cherrin,
an MSU senior from West
Bloomfield, this is an example of
multiculturalism on campus.
"Because MSU is in a multi-
cultural frame of mind, it offered
to get me kosher meals," Mr.
Cherrin said. "The administra-
tors have gone out of their way to
be gracious. On the other hand,
they get to brag about being mul-
ticulturalistic."
University settings are be-
coming increasingly sensitive to
diversity. The politically correct
movement of multiculturalism is
fueling college administrators to
strive for a community where di-
versity can flourish.
Other examples of campus
multiculturalism are more com-
plex and varied. Examples in-
clude upholding the right of free
speech no matter how offensive
or trying to preserve affirmative
action when key political figures
want to abolish it.
Recently, a Jewish Federation
of Metropolitan Detroit forum
featured the presidents of Wayne
State University, the University
of Michigan and MSU. Each

talked about how they strive for
a multicultural society on cam-
pus.
"We in academia talk about
the need for more, not less, di-
versity," said James J. Duder-
stadt, U-M president. "We must
move to celebrate our differences
and make an effort to find com-
mon ground to unite on."
These university administra-
tors agree free speech, even if it's
offensive, is essential to a college
campus. They draw the line, how-
ever, when speech incites illegal
action.
"A university campus is a place
to learn and free speech is core to
a university's operation," Mr.
Duderstadt said. "Students have
both the responsibility and the
right to speak out when they dis-
agree."
On-campus appearances by
Kwame Toure, Leonard Jeffries
and Louis Farrakhan are offen-
sive to Jewish students and
faculty members, but, like ad-
ministrators, they acknowledge
the right to free speech.
When a university provides
funds to bring in speakers, it's
more difficult to regulate, said
Wayne State President David W.
Adamany. "We cannot attach
strings relating to the nature of
speech because it would consti-
tute a government action," he
said.
"The First Amendment is an
ageless issue on college campus-
es. Who can say what, when,
where and how?" added M. Peter
McPherson, president of MSU. "I
believe in nondiscriminative ci-
vility, openness of discussion and

an ethical responsibility."
Mr. McPherson said it is not
his role to tell student groups
what speaker to bring on cam-
pus. "My role is to promote val-
ues, not promulgate rules," he
said.
Richard Joel, the internation-
al director of B'nai B'rith
Hillel Foundations, sees multi-
culturalism in a different light,
calling it a political movement
which allows groups that feel dis-
enfranchised from society to ad-
vance their agendas.
Mr. Joel said it presents prob-
lems because Jews want to be
seen as an ethnic minority and
are told they are not a minority.
Yet they do not feel part of the
mainstream.
Mr. Cherrin agrees. While
multiculturalism allows him to
get his kosher meals and allows
Jewish students to reschedule ex-
ams that fall during the High
Holidays, he said, "Jews, al-
though historically oppressed, are
not seen as in need of the bene-
fits of multiculturalism and are
excluded from a lot."
Mr. Cherrin thinks about
multiculturalism because it's
part of his major. He's gradu-
ating with a degree in social re-
lations from MSU's James
Madison College.
"In classes, we're forced to
think about multiculturalism,"
he said. "It's talked about in all
the freshman introductory hu-
manities classes." Outside the
classroom, students don't give the
topic much thought, Mr. Cherrin
said. ❑

Jewish Communities
Assist The Victims

RUTH LITTMANN STAFF WRITER

ewish communities nation-
wide are extending help to
the victims and the heroes
in the Oklahoma City
bombing tragedy.
Locally, students at Hillel and
other day schools are donating
tzedakah monies. The National
Council of Jewish Women is do-
nating $100 to the Red Cross.
The Jewish Community Council,
in conjunction with the Jewish
Federation of Metropolitan De-
troit, has established an "open
mailbox" for donations.

j

"We deplore the bombing of the
federal building in Oklahoma
City and extend our deepest
sympathies to the victims and
their families," said metro De-
troit's JCCouncil President Allen
Zemmol. "This outrage is an as-
sault on all Americans. We urge
that the government proceed
with total commitment to pursue
all lawful means to discover and
prosecute the perpetrators."
Although no Jews are thought
to have perished in last week's
terrorist attack, many rabbis,

congregations and other Jewish
institutions have sent volunteers,
as well as money, to the site of the
disaster.
"We've received unbelievable
support," said Edie Roodman, ex-
ecutive director of the Jewish
Federation of Greater Oklahoma
City. "(Jews) here are stunned
and heartbroken. They're feeling
blessed that the bombing didn't
directly affect the Jewish com-
munity, but they're also feeling a
compelling responsibility to put
our city back together."

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