Diversity Flourishes On Council

Blacks, Latinos, Women See Gains

Many of Harvard's undergraduate organizations have been unable to achieve ethnic and racial diversity which matches that of the student body.

But not the Undergraduate Council. Harvard's student government stands out for its diversity, though council members stress there is more to be done. Consider, for example, three of the top four officials on the council. President Carey W. Gabay '94, Treasurer Jamila A. Braswell '95 and Secretary Brandon C. Gregoire '95 are all important powerbrokers in the student government. All are experienced, with each having served at least one semester on the council's executive board before holding their current posts.

And all three are African-American.

This is not a new phenomenon. Minority students also held important posts last semester.

Of the four council-wide elected posts--president, vice president, trea- surer and secretary--two were filled by Blackstudents and two by Latino students last fall. Andtwo of the four students were women.

On a campus that some students say is hostileto minorities, diversity is a constant concern.and while the council has not generally dealtwith issues of race, Harvard's students governmentprovides the kind of racially diverse leadershipthat minority groups have long said is lacking oncampus.

The council's success in securing a diverseleadership--done without the benefit of any quota,affirmative action or special recruitment--mayhold lessons for other campus organizations thathave struggled with the problem.

If the council is a model, then it is the hardwork of minority student that leads to diversity.Braswell, like other Black leaders on the council,says their rise in the council has been aboutindividual effort, not race.

"It has nothing at all to do with the councilwanting things to be that way," Braswell says.It's should be totally attributed to thoseindividuals."

This academic year, in fact, has seenminorities and women make important strides ingaining influence on the council. A record numberof Black now participate both in councilleadership and in the body's general assembly.Latino students have also played a major role.

And the council's female representatives, whoheld several meetings last spring because theyfelt their opinions were being ignored in thecouncil, say they too have made strides.

The Executive Board

Last semester, all four of the council'selected posts were filled by minorities: Gabay,the president, and then-Secretary Cynthia D.Johnson '96 are Black, while then-Vice PresidentMelissa Garza '94 and then-Treasurer Rene Reyes'95 are Latino.

Meanwhile, unofficial statistics provided byGregoire show that as of last week, 15 of thecouncil's 79 members are Black. In other words,Black students represent 19 percent of thecouncil.

This means that the percentage of Blacks on thecouncil is more than double the percentage ofBlack enrolled in the college. According to themost recent University statistics available, Blackstudents comprised 7.2 present of the student bodyin the fall of 1992.