University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire

NEWS RELEASE

News Bureau . Schofield Hall 201 . Eau Claire, WI 54702
phone: (715) 836-4741
fax: (715) 836-2900

UW-Eau Claire’s Peer Diversity Educators
Awarded $2,500 Citizen Scholar Grant

 MAILED:  May 5, 2004

EAU CLAIRE — The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Peer Diversity Educators recently received a $2,500 Citizen Scholar Grant funded by the Corporation for National and Community Service through the Learn and Serve America Higher Education Program.

The Citizen Scholar Grant, coordinated by the Upper Midwest Campus Compact Consortium and administered by the Minnesota Higher Education Service Office, helps support undergraduate and/or graduate students and their campus and community partners in pursuing innovative and sustainable civic engagement initiatives.

Peer Diversity Educators, a Housing and Residence Life student-run organization that promotes understanding and respect for people of all abilities, creeds, races, social classes, genders and sexual orientations, began educating the UW-Eau Claire campus on diversity issues in 2001. The group applied for this federal grant to help them expand their programs into the Eau Claire community and continue to educate people and challenge their beliefs about diversity issues.

“Diversity education is crucial to a well-rounded school curriculum,” said Jodi Thesing-Ritter, assistant director of Housing and Residence Life and one of the group’s staff members. “The Peer Diversity Educators believe we can help provide this to local high school, middle school and elementary school students.”

Teacher and UW-Eau Claire alumna Kaia Simon, who helped coordinate the program at Northstar Middle School last fall, said she believes the Peer Diversity Educators’program is effective because it places participants in the scene used to educate them.

“By using role play and staying within character, the staff put students in the role of oppressed people and made the students confront the emotions that come from being oppressed,” said Simon. “That’s a powerful thing for a young adolescent to learn.”

Major partners providing matching funds for this grant are the UW-Eau Claire Housing and Residence Life program and the office of the vice chancellor for Student Development and Diversity.

PDE also is interested in working with other community partners such as the YMCA of Eau Claire, Bolton Refuge House, local law enforcement, several faith-based organizations and community social workers.

The PDE group is made up of 15 staff and two student coordinators who come from a variety of academic backgrounds and are specially trained in diversity classroom facilitation. They use educational programs, presentations and personal testimonies to accomplish their goal of eliminating prejudice and discrimination.

For more information on PDE, contact Thesing-Ritter at thesinjm@uwec.edu or (715) 836-3630.

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 Judy Berthiaume, Director
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Schofield 201
(715) 836-4741
newsbur@uwec.edu

Updated: May 5, 2004