To promote diversity in our college, we participate in programs such as Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP), a national program that aims to increase the quality and quantity of students from currently underrepresented populations who successfully obtain undergraduate degrees in STEM programs. CHAS is also home to the George Walker Society – the only Iowa branch of the National Association of Negro Musicians, Inc., a group dedicated to preserving and promoting classical compositions and Negro spirituals composed by African Americans. Student organizations like the Women in Computing Club also promote diversity on campus by working to retain and recruit women in the computer science department.
Initiatives in place to promote inclusion include the Center for Urban Education (UNI-CUE), a facility created to provide a positive environment for lifetime learning. Programs there are tailored to recruit and encourage continuing education for minority, financially-disadvantaged and non-traditional students. Their Classic Upward Bound Program helps provide services and support for low income and first-generation students. The goal is for increased rates of high school graduation, college enrollment and successful completion of a Baccalaureate degree.
Students also have the chance to change lives and flourish through involvement in the community. UNI students are a critical part of the Spectrum Project, a performing arts program for children of differing abilities in the Cedar Valley. Each performer is paired with a buddy to help explore music, movement, drama and art in weekly meetings. A variety of different majors are involved as buddies, and they work together with the participants, ages 6 to 18. Both performers and buddies learn from each other and grow together throughout the spring sessions, which culminate in a showcase of their favorite songs and activities. Another program that gives CHAS students a chance to be immersed in diversity is a class at the YWCA that teaches English as a second language. What started as a plan to teach Spanish speakers English has turned into a program that includes natives of Mexico, Congo, Angola, Burma and other countries. Students have had to adapt and learn how to communicate via universal languages, while gaining valuable real world experience and learning empathy toward those who face daily barriers in communication.