Minority Groups Issue Demands on Diversity

Voice Concerns at Junior Parents Weekend Forum

A Junior Parents Weekend discussion yesterday on "celebrating diversity" turned into a forum for a coalition of minority groups to issue a list of demands on Harvard administrators.

More than 50 students clad in black carried signs and distributed flyers alleging a pattern of insensitive behavior by Harvard faculty members and administrators.

The protest spilled over into the Junior Parents Weekend event in Science Center B, where College officials, student leaders and an audience of over 200 juniors and parents engaged in a heated discussion.

One flyer, titled "The Peculiar Institution" (a reference to slavery) and signed by nine campus organizations, called for an "official investigation" into "institutionalized racism" at the College.

The flyer contains a catalog of complaints, ranging from allegedly "erroneous and racist" statements on grade inflation by Thomson Professor of Government Harvey C. Mansfield to a dearth of Black and Latino professors in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

A coalition of minority groups compiled the flyer including the Asian American Association (AAA), Black Students' Association (BSA), Carribean Club, Harvard African Students' Association, Japan Society, Korean Students' Association, La (), Raza and Society of Arab Students.

The flyer calls for Mansfield to apologize for his statements linking grade inflation to an increasing number of Black students at the College. It also says President Neil L. Rudenstine and Dean of the Faculty Jeremy R. Knowles must apologize for their "silence in the issue."

Rudenstine, Knowles and Mansfield did not return phone calls to respond to the charges and demands last night. Last week, Mansfield refused to comment when questioned about his statements.

The students demanded a "town meeting," to be held with Rudenstine and other administrators by March 24, to deal with diversity issues.

They also requested increased funding and curricula for ethnic and minority issues and called for a "candidate review process," to begin by April 16, that would lead to the appointment of a tenured Latino professor.

In addition, the students protested the lack of any Asian-American representatives on two Junior Parents Weekend panels, including the panel dealing with diversity.

Members of the coalition did not specify what action they would take if their demands are not met.

Another flyer, distributed by AAA and eight sister groups, said organizers of the weekend had been "grossly negligent in their oversight." On Thursday, Daniel H. Choi '94, who is Asian-American, was added to one of the panels after a protest by several Asian student groups.

The flyer calls on the College to ensure that such an "oversight" is not repeated. It also asks for a meeting with the administration "to better insure that diversity at Harvard will be truly represented."

But students said the rally was an important way of vocalizing their concerns to administrators and parents. "We are all in it together," said Mariano E. Cuellar '94.