Student diversity on high school campuses poses both challenges and opportunities for staff, teachers, and communities. One of the difficulties that arises when students from diverse backgrounds come together in a high school campus is intergroup conflict. Tensions between groups, acts of insensitivity, bullying, fights, and misunderstandings are manifestations of diversity in secondary education. On the upside, a diverse student body presents opportunities to enhance intercultural education, form friendships, and engender intergroup collaboration. These opportunities in turn contribute to prejudice reduction, open-mindedness, increased interest in diversity, and a whole array of positive diversity related outcomes. Addressing the challenges and opportunities related to diversity requires training of high school students to learn the knowledge and skills to successfully practice multicultural leadership on their respective campuses. Trained students can address issues of bullying, intergroup conflict, promote positive cross-cultural relationships, and educate other students about prejudice and discrimination based on sexual orientation, race/ethnicity, disability, religion, nationality, and other social identities.
The University of South Dakota’s (USD) Office for Diversity and the Office of Admissions sponsor annually a “Multicultural Leadership Summit for High School Students” which takes place on the USD campus. The event is designed to train students in the knowledge and skills of being a multicultural leader. This is an all-day event that brings 40 high school students to USD to participate in workshops and other interactive activities related to cross-cultural and intergroup training and education. As part of the program, students receive information about college and academic success and also get an opportunity to talk with multicultural student leaders at USD.