Many grade-school students report today that they experience prejudice and that bullying has become an increasing problem at school. American Jewish University, with its commitment to instill in students a deep appreciation for civic participation, responded to this issue last month with its 14th annual Prejudice Awareness Summit.
Twenty five AJU undergraduate students who had completed the course on Psychology of Prejudice, along with special training for the summit, facilitated the program. Through group exercises they encouraged honest and open dialogue, helping middle school students understand the experience of prejudice, explore their own encounters and feelings about it, and examine its causes and various ways to change prejudice. They also discussed the roots of bullying and how to handle such a situation.
The summit was attended by two hundred students from middle schools around the Los Angeles area including: Byrd Middle School, Columbus Middle School, Patrick Henry Middle School, Heschel Day School, Mulholland Middle School, Nobel Middle School, and Pacoima Middle School.
Jewish Women International created the Prejudice Awareness Summit in 1992 and continues to assist with the event, which is presented under the direction of AJU Behavioral Sciences Chair, Dr. Sue Kapitanoff. "I am so proud of our students," said Dr. Kapitanoff, "who have developed the commitment and confidence to help others by taking what they have learned out into the world."
Dr. William Gregory Sawyer, Vice President for Students Affairs at California State University, Channel Islands, served as keynote speaker and was well received by the middle school students.