Officers of Raza and La O began meeting with administrator late last week to discuss their proposed Latino studies initiative.
Raza President Lilia Fernandez '95 said that the meetings--with Dean of Students Archie C. Epps III and Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education Lawrence Buell--yielded little concrete progress toward improvements in Latino curriculum and faculty hiring. However, they did help to straighten out some misunderstandings, Fernandez said.
"We were getting very different messages--one from Epps and one from [Dean of the Faculty Jeremy R. Knowles], and from other," Fernandez said.
The previous week, officers of the two Latino students groups said they were disappointed by a letter in which Knowles declined to meet with them and suggested they discuss their concerns with other administrators.
Fernandez said that at the meetings this week, she and La O President Efrain Cortes '94 talked to the administrators about how to best pursue their aims.
Epps, who was appointed this summer to oversee race relations in the College, proposed that they consult with Buell and with Associate Dean for Affirmative Action Marjorie Garber.
Buell said he encouraged the students to think in terms of a limited agenda: to target fields that Latino students are interested in and to focus on those in which there is likelihood of finding good candidates.
He said that Knowles actually has little authority to initiate hiring, which is dependent on the individual departments. This "decentralized power structure" frustrates both deans and students who are trying to implement hiring goals, he said.
A "Working group" that includes Epps, Buell, Garber and S. Allen Counter, director of the Harvard Foundation for Intercultural and Race Relations, will meet Tuesday morning to review the "history" of Raza and La O's proposal. Counter, who is familiar with the issues, is expected to lead the meeting.
"I hope that what will come out of it is a commitment with working closely with the Latino students, to improve the hiring of professors of Latino background and to increase the number of course related to Latino American studies," Counter said yesterday.
Epps said he sees himself as a facilitator in the process.
"This needs coordination. As long as student are involved, we can avoid just playing games within the bureau-
Fernandez and Cortes have scheduled a meetingwith Knowles for Friday.
According to Fernandez, the groups will waituntil Friday to evaluate their position, "We'restill trying to go through the regular channels,"she said.
The groups have made some progress toward theirgoal, however. "We've brought a message to theadministration by meeting with them. They knowwe're serious," Fernandez said.
Jonathan Samuels and Joe Mathews contributedto the reporting of this article.
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