Foundation Releases Report On Diversity

Student committees suggest race-relations initiative, center

Students will distribute a “Diversity Package” today recommending that Harvard create a Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity and a House-based race-relations initiative.

The Students Advisory Committee (SAC) and the Academic Affairs Committee, two student subgroups of the Harvard Foundation for Intercultural and Race Relations, who prepared the report, also recommend an increase in minority artwork around campus and a student center for more meeting space.

Students at the Foundation plan to distribute the package today to upper-level administrators including University President Lawrence H. Summers, Dean of Faculty of Arts and Sciences Jeremy R. Knowles, as well as to department chairs and faculty members who have expressed interest in ethnic studies.

Collaborators hope the package, the first report of its kind, will become an annual report which can be used as a yardstick for University progress on diversity.

‘This is something that future administrators can look back on an ask ‘are these still problems today?’” SAC secretary Ethan Y. Yeh ‘02 said.

The package, addressed to “administrators, faculty, staff and students” is a culmination of the Foundation’s yearlong projects.

The report’s recommendations are made through four initiatives: an arts initiative, a house-based race relations initiative, a space initiative and an academic affairs initiative.

Yeh said meetings with administrators have made the students aware that some of their more dramatic recommendations are unlikely to be implemented in the near future.

“The Harvard Foundation often gets ignored,” Yeh said. “Just putting ourselves on the map is the first step and the second step is recommending proposals and initiatives that the administration can take forward.”

The academic initiative repeats the year-long student efforts to increase faculty diversity and implement an ethnic studies curriculum.

To reach these goals, the package proposes the creation of a Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity—modeled after similar centers at Columbia and Stanford—by the end of next year.

The report also call for Knowles or his successor to create “four professorial chairs—one each in Native American, Asian American, Latino and Comparative Race and Ethnic Studies.”

The report also suggests the college sponsor a committee composed of faculty from other schools to “produce a proposal recommending a race and ethnic studies program for Harvard,” by the end of next year.

Though the Foundation expects the academic initiative to proceed slowly, students said their proposal for the house-based Race Relations Initiative can be implemented by next fall.

“We thought might be more powerful to have these activities be House-based instead of full-campus,” said Scott A. Rechler ’03, who co-chairs the multicultural issues forum. “After randomization there was talk that Houses could be multicultural spaces, but people still feel unwelcome.”

The report calls for increased collaboration between students, tutors and the foundation to create activities centered on issues of diversity.

The other two initiatives seek to create multicultural space in the more physical sense, by diversifying the artwork on campus and creating a physical space for student groups.

The Foundation found that only three of the 204 portraits and busts on campus have non-white subjects.

“We want to make Harvard buildings literally more multicultural by having artwork portraying minorities and by minorities,” Yeh said.

Finally, the space initiative asks for immediate student group storage and meeting space.

In the long term, the report asks for a full student center, with an “eye on the Inn at Harvard.”