Student leaders addressed racial issues and the need for a black studies program during a discussion Jan. 18 at the Cranwell International Center.
Derek Dyson, president of the Black Student Alliance, said the incident at Kenyon College where a pledge from Tech's Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity allegedly had his picture taken while kissing a black woman "ignited a flame of racial controversy on campus."
Along with Kwame Alexander, chairman of the education committee of the campus chapter of the NAACP, Dyson offered examples of prejudices.
"Racism does not have to be on a more physical, obvious kind of plane, Dyson said. "It is something that can happen daily."
Alexander said a recent article in The Preston Journal said the Tech chapter of the NAACP was a "ludicrous" organization known to exaggerate black problems as racial issues.
"In some point and time we need to start looking at these things and determine whether they are racially motivated," he said.
Dyson said the NAACP is trying to institute a black studies program for this fall.
The program would give students the opportunity to receive a minor, he said, and would be similar to the current women's studies program.
Alexander said the program would be structured like an introductory sociology class dealing with race relations and would feature professors from different ethnic groups.
Dyson said the class would be taught with active class participation in mind.
The black studies program has received support from Fred Carlisle, senior vice president and provost, he said.
Barbara Pendergrass, assistant to the vice president of student affairs, said the obstacle to the initiation of the program has been its proposed status.
The elective status would be inefficient for a black studies program, she said. This would not bring enough attention to its existence.
Pendergrass said the program would have to be part of the core curriculum in order to obtain enough exposure.
Dyson said public education about racism would also come from the Black Organization and Black Student Alliance's support of an Afro-American Cultural House.
Dyson said he is trying to initiate the program through a petition, and believes the Afro-American Cultural Center, planned for Squires, is an insufficient compromise for effectively educating people about racial incidents.