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44L,4\\ BILL LEISSNER Common Ground A UT Symposium on Multiculturalism BY BREW CAMPBELL Austin HE SOCIAL ILLNESS of racism seems to have settled in on the cam pus of the University of Texas at Austin, and though administrators appear frustrated in finding a cure, perhaps the uni versity has some capacity to heal itself. Some thing of that capacity might be found in the Heman Sweatt Symposium, one of the few perennial, student-initiated programs at UT. The annual event is named after a man who helped open the door to university education to qualified students of all races. In 1948, Heman Marion Sweatt was first approved, by virtue of his academic record, for admission to UT Law School, then denied entrance when the registrar discovered that Sweatt was an African American. When the university attempted to establish lesser, segregated facilities for him, alone in a basement office downtown, Sweatt filed suit and after a fouryear legal battle prevailed when the United States Supreme Court ruled that the school had to admit him. The Sweatt v. Painter case effectively opened U.S. state-supported graduate institutions to all races and became an important precedent for the better-known Brown v. the Board of Education decision handed down in 1954. After Sweatt died in 1983, UT students sought a way to honor his courage he was harassed and threatened throughout the ordeal and his commitment to equality. Two student groups, the Black Student, Alliance and the Friar Society, settled on two methods: renaming the Little Campus \(site of the admissions office and visitor center and for Sweatt, and establishing an annual symposium in his name. During its four-year existence, the program has attracted many nationally known civil-rights leaders. Yet despite the school’s sponsorship of the symposium, it seems that UT like other large universities needs a dose of multiculturalism itself. The administration initially opposed the renaming of the Little Campus, only backing down in the face of strong student and faculty advocacy. One of this year’s panelists, University of Arizona Professor Leslie Espinoza, had only two weeks earlier been turned down for a job at Brett Campbell is an Observer editorial assistant. UT Law School after the Harvard graduate had been invited to apply and recommended by the school’s recruitment committee. A few days later, word came that two of UT’s best female English professors would be departing; one of them taught the department’s only class in African-American literature. And on the day the sympo THE TEXAS OBSERVER 9 w .41. ,,M ,… ,Vit 4 it ,