Students Present Papers

April 24, 1998

Students Present Papers at Multicultural Conference

Four students from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls were selected to present papers at the 15th annual American Multicultural Student Leadership Conference in La Crosse, April 17-19.

The students were Isaac Mbiti, a senior in mathematics from Minneapolis, Minn.; Jacquelynne Whitner, a senior in English, from Minneapolis; Kate Joos, a sophomore in animal science from Norwood, Minn.; and Kristen Baregi, a senior in pre-elementary education from St. Paul, Minn.

Mbiti won a first place scholarship in research for his paper, "Evolution of the Mask," which analyzes the historical significance of physical masks in traditional African society.

Whitner received a second place scholarship in prose for her paper, "Diversity: A Lifelong Commitment." The paper examines acts of combating resistance to diversity through Whitman's recollections and reflections of growing up as an African-American female in Mississippi, through the Civil Rights era to present day activism and involvement.

Joos' paper, "White Allies?", explores the detrimental effects of white moderacy and explains how a lack of action in white America prevents change and fuels the American race problem. The paper also presents a course of action including education and the election of officials willing to battle the inertia of American apathy.

Baregi presented her paper, "Metropolitan Desegregation of Schools: A 21st Century Vision." The paper focuses on the problem of segregated public school systems and the history of desegregation, and provides a brief description of some policies and programs that have contributed to an ethnically/racially integrated public school system. It also covers some important steps to take to achieve the best results in an integrated system.

The University of Wisconsin System gathering is one of the oldest and largest multicultural conferences in the nation, attracting about 400 students of color from around the state. It is an opportunity for students to gather for the presentation of papers, to hear key-note addresses and to network with faculty, other students and employers. The conference focuses on the presentation of papers in three categories including research, prose and poetry.

Papers are submitted to an evaluation committee that decides which papers are presented on a "double-blind" basis in which no one on the committee knows who wrote the paper or where they are from.

The papers were chosen on the basis of scholarship, rigor, and relevance to the theme, "Rising to the Challenge of Combating Resistance to Diversity." Out of 54 submissions, only 24 papers were chosen for presentation.

"This was the first time in 15 years that we had so many quality papers submitted and chosen for representation," says Linda Alvarez of multicultural services at UW-RF.

This year the evaluation committee was from the UW-RF campus and included: Ron Neuhaus, professor of creative writing, Tom Norwood, assistant dean in the College of Education and Graduate Studies, and Joan F. Kennedy, professor of teacher education.

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