- Associated Press - Monday, June 8, 2015

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) - University of Oklahoma freshman will now be required to take a course dealing with diversity issues before completing their first year of college.

The mandated, five-hour course will begin in the upcoming fall semester, and the histories, backgrounds and cultures among students and alumni will be studied, said Jabar Shumate, vice president of university community.

“You can’t teach diversity in a five-hour course, but you can be inspired to learn more and be involved in other ways,” said Shumate, who recently was hired to focus on improving and sustaining efforts to diversify the campus, the Tulsa World reported.

“A big part of it will be opening a dialogue,” he said. “It will allow an opportunity to meet someone different, and, perhaps, make life-long friendships. We want to create a situation to make meaningful relationships for students at the beginning.”

The course is part of a larger effort to provide a more diverse faculty and student body at the school, which was rocked in March by a scandal involving video of fraternity members singing a racist chant.

Shumate, an alumnus of OU, worked as a press secretary for President David Boren before entering politics. He said Boren first approached him about the job in January, before the video controversy began.

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