About 200 undergraduates turned out Thursday and Friday to elect five "general members" to the Student Advisory Committee to the Harvard Foundation, an organization designed to promote race relations on campus.
"The purpose of the general membership is to get a group that is representative of the Harvard student body, not just of minorities on campus. We already have representatives for that," said Robert Henry '90, who was in charge of the elections and the incumbent representative of the Black Students Association (BSA).
Although "the purpose of the Harvard Foundation is to include students of all backgrounds throughout campus," according to Foundation Director Alan S. Counter, four of the five newly-elected members come from minority backgrounds.
"The general student body should support the Foundation a little more." Henrysaid, adding that in the future he would like tosee the voting figures "balance out" so that theStudent Advisory Committee is comprised of a morerepresentative group. "We're going to increaseefforts to advertise the Foundation as aninstitution, as well as its elections," he said.
One reason only about 200 students voted isthat students in majority groups are "slightlyapathetic" when it comes to race relations, Henrysaid. "Harvard students are predominantly whiteand male, and they feel they don't have a need forthe Harvard Foundation."
"When they see the word ethnic attached to [theHarvard Foundation], it becomes stigmatized, andthey steer away from it," Henry said.
"People of ethnic and minority groups feel thatthere is a need for the Harvard Foundation. Theysee it as a way to better the atmosphere andintercultural relations," Henry said.
The new representatives are Shannah B. Braxton'88, former BSA president; Raul Perez '90, asteering committee member of Raza, the Hispanicstudents' group; Mary Moreland '88, formerpresident of American Indians at Harvard (AIH);Michelle D. Mirchandani '91, a representative ofan Asian minority group, and Laurence Schreiber'87-'88, who is a member of Harvard-RadcliffeHillel.
The 14-member committee also includes threerepresentatives from the houses, five fromofficially recognized student minority groups, andone from the Undergraduate Council, none of whomare elected by the student body.
The Student Advisory Committee will discussprojects, make decisions on the awarding of grantmoney, actively promote race relations andcultural awareness on campus, and provide input atmonthly faculty-advisory meetings, Counter said.
In addition, the newly-elected members saidthey have their own interests they would like tosee addressed this year.
Moreland said, "I wanted to have an active rolein the Foundation. I'd like to let people knowwhat the Foundation does and is. A lot of peopleknow it exists, but don't know what projects fallunder it's funding." Last year, Morelandrepresented AIH on the Committee.
Perez said he hopes to increase theUniversity's commitment to ethnic studies. "Notonly is there a lack of ethnic studies, there's alack of ethnic faculty. Harvard students need tobecome educated about ethnic groups like AsianAmericans, Cubans, Vietnamese, and Chicanos,"Perez said.
Laurence Schreiber '87-'88, who focused hiscampaign on representing the Jewish community onthe Foundation, said, "It's important that someoneinterested in Jewish programs, concepts andactivities should be involved and express thedesires and needs of the Jewish community."
"Someone with the experience that I have couldbe valuable asset because I have had the exposureto the Jewish community--but I feel I'd representall students," Schreiber said.
The minority student groups--AIH, the BSA, LaOrganization, Raza, and the Asian-AmericanAssociation--have yet to choose theirrepresentatives to the Student Advisory Committee.Rudy Ruiz '89 will represent the UndergraduateCouncil, but the three house delegates have yet tobe chosen