College Courses Offered Exclusively to African Americans?

College Courses Offered Exclusively to African Americans?
Susan Dutca-Lovell

Only African American students will be allowed to enroll in certain sections of a mandatory introductory course at Moraine Valley Community College. The segregated course - similar to ones that are only open to veterans, special needs, and older students - is intended to help students feel more "comfortable." While registering, some parents found this exclusionary act alarming.

For years, Moraine Valley has offered College 101 "exclusively to groups such as athletes and those with special needs." Courses such as these are effective for low-income, first-generation and similar students, where they can build network systems with people of similar backgrounds. The other restricted course available only to African American students is titled "College: Changes, Challenges, Choice."

The data-driven decision is nothing new for the college, according to the college's Vice President for Institutional Development. She states that "this is not something new for us. We've done [courses for] veterans, we've done women, we have done Hispanics...we find that these particular courses with these particular groups with our mentoring and peer support help them to be more successful than they would be if they did not have this particular experience."

One parent wrote to the Chicago Tribune's opinion page that their Moraine Valley son wanted to know "why there are not two sections limited to Asian-American students? How about Native American students?" Some administrators argue that "limiting course sections to a particular racial or ethnic group could diminish the image of those classes, whereas experiencing other viewpoints and backgrounds improves tolerance among all groups."

Sectioned courses focus on the specific issues encountered by various groups. For example, veterans face a specific set of challenges that may not be experienced by non-veterans. Moraine Valley's Assistant Director of Communications claims that "students feel comfortable [in these settings] and are more likely to open up because they're with other students who are like them."

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