SEM 100 Classes Start For Students
By Amber McElrath – Syracuse, NY (CitrusTV) – Syracuse University prides itself on being a diverse and ethnically rich community that represents all 50 U.S. states and 118 countries.
Recently, there have been issues across campus involving matters relating to diversity that made students feel as though they could not make the most out of their experience at SU. Faculty immediately decided to address the issues by creating a mandatory seminar for first year and transfer students.
SEM 100 classes started meeting last week after students had some time to adjust to campus life. An important part of the class was the mandatory reading of political comedian Trevor Noah’s book Born a Crime.
The goal of the class is to use this book, which takes place in South Africa during apartheid, to allow students to interpret their lives and their own world views.
Syracuse freshmen Lexie Brett said that her first class was a positive experience because it allowed her to “know a little bit about where people came from because the book is about Trevor Noah and where he came from.” She feels that the SEM 100 class will help widen her perspective and the perspectives of her peers because they are all tied by the common thread of Born a Crime.
This is the main goal of the course. Gregory Munno, an assistant professor in Newhouse and a facilitator hired to train the instructors of the seminar, says that “students can see how their lived experiences have shaped them and how that’s different from someone else.”
The training sessions were four hours long and besides going over basic course dynamics, such as meeting times and grading systems, instructors were taught how to deal with conflict in the classroom and encourage students to open their minds to other perspectives.
Diversity can be a difficult topic to teach but the program’s first week has been receiving a lot of positive feedback. This is mainly because of the focus on first year and transfer students.
Dr. Rev. Brian Konkol, the Dean of Hendrick’s Chapel, says that they started with first year and transfer students because they will learn what it is like to be a part of a diverse community like Syracuse that they haven’t experienced before.
SEM 100 is a confidential space that is meant to encourage students to take a reflective look at their own life experiences and compare them to those of others. This will hopefully help to address and tackle diversity issues that have recently occurred at Syracuse.
The book for next year has not been chosen yet but students can expect the same themes of diversity and inclusion in the summer reading next year.
The goal of SEM 100 is to get all students involved in making campus a better and safer place for all of the diverse students that attend the university.