BY BETH LEVALLEY
#UniteIowa on Race at Drake is a five-part series of events that will focus on the discussion of racial issues throughout the spring.
Student Senate allocated $3,000 to the event, which will be a part of the activities happening on May 6. This happens to fall on Dead Day, the day at the end of each semester when no classes meet so that students can prepare for exams.
The allocation was to help relieve the costs associated with bringing a Chicago-based hip-hop, soul and jazz band called Sidewalk Chalk and journalist, filmmaker and immigration rights activist, Jose Antonio Vargas, to Drake’s campus.
The series is being planned by a spring first-year seminar class entitled “Talking with the Enemy: A Dialogue in the Age of Polarization,” taught by Professor Carol Spaulding-Kruse.
“The whole point of this event is to get two polarizing views on race and race relations together,” senior Brytani Cavil said.
Cavil is a student intern working on marketing, planning and fundraising for the events.
These dialogue events will include partnerships with the Science Center of Iowa’s RACE exhibit, Drake Athletics, West Des Moines Valley High School, the Des Moines Register and Drake’s 2016 Engaged Citizen Conference.
The team working on this series has sent grant proposals to several organizations and is waiting to hear back for those proposals.
Other student organizations such as the Coalition of Black Students, La Fuerza Latina and Unity Round Table will collaborate with these events during the multicultural barbecue.
The event on Dead Day will provide a meal for all students attending the multicultural barbecue as well as the students going to see Sidewalk Chalk and Jose Antonio Vargas.
Cavil said that this last event is trying to create a “festive environment” to continue discussions.
“We’re trying to trickle into campus in every way we can,” Cavil said.
She hopes to get all students involved in order to have the most productive conversation about race.
One of ways they are getting students involved is through Drake Athletics.
“It’s interesting because they want the ‘Bulldog Way’ to be the idea that athletes on campus are disseminated as a form of better leadership,” said Spaulding-Kruse. “When they come to the events, others can see that Bulldogs are there, and Sandy (Hatfield-Clubb, Drake’s athletics director) believes that that makes a difference.”
Spaulding-Kruse showed a passion for the course and the events that are being planned for the semester.
“The most important part to me is that the Des Moines Register is the kind of publicity that show that Drake is getting ahead of the game on race relations,” Spaulding-Kruse said. “It’s an absolute win-win for my students, for Drake students, for the community and for the Register.”
During discussion, issues of academic policy and event timing were brought up.
Because students enrolled in a course are planning the series and Student Senate cannot fund activities that are part of students’ grades, some senators were hesitant to fund the motion.
The students in the course are not required to attend the events. The events are only 15 percent of their grades, allowing the students to pass the course without participating.
Caleb Potratz, the student body auditor for Student Senate, reminded senators of the specific bylaws.
“The purpose of student fees is to not provide tuition compensation for students or to compensate university employees, which is where class credit comes in,” Potratz said. “This will be neither a compensation for tuition or a compensation for the university employees, so it doesn’t really fall under class credit.”
Vice President Zach Blevins argued that activities not pertaining to rest and relaxation on Dead Day are discouraged on Drake’s campus.
“Programming should not be happening on Dead Day unless it is focused on rest and relaxation,” Blevins said in a written statement. “While everyone is free to do what they want on that day, Senate should not be financially supporting programming on Dead Day that does not directly benefit students on their final presentations and preparations.”
Cavil and Spaulding-Kruse do not anticipate moving the date of the multicultural barbecue.