Medical Students Oppose Move To End Minority Subcommittee

The new director of admissions at the Harvard Medical School has proposed the elimination of a special minority admissions subcommittee as one of a series of changes in admissions procedures for next year, alarming minority students at the Med School who believe the subcommittee's dissolution would lead to a decrease in the number of minority acceptances.

The 13 student and faculty members of the central admissions committee voted unanimously on May 1 to retain the minority subcommittee, but Dr. Oglesby Paul '38, director of admissions at the Med School, has since recommended to the dean that it be eliminated. The faculty of the Med School is expected to consider the issue at its May 23 meeting.

The Harvard Med School was one of the first in the nation to begin an affirmative action program, when it established the minority admissions subcommittee in 1968. The subcommittee screens all black, Chicano, Asian, native-American, and Puerto Rican applicants and makes recommendations to the central committee.

Paul has been reviewing the entire Med School admissions program since he became director in September. Paul said last week he supports a strong affirmative action program, but thinks the entire admissions committee should be responsible for the screening of minority candidates.


"I don't like having segregation of minority, female, or any other group of applicants. We're not changing the goals, we're changing the way, they're handled," Paul said.

Members of the student Third World Caucus will conduct an "intensive lobbying effort" before the faculty meeting, Michelle D. Holmes '77, first-year medical student and Third World Caucus member, said last week.

Stepping Backward

"We believe dropping the subcommittee would be a huge step backwards," Holmes said. She added, "Because Harvard has shown leadership in minority admissions, it would mean a decrease in minority acceptances at Harvard and all across the country."

The Third World Caucus has written a 30-page report against dissolution of the special subcommittee, one of five admissions subcommittees. The group has distributed the report to faculty and administrators, and will conduct an informal seminar on the proposal with faculty members today.

Dr. Robert H. Ebert, who was dean of the Medical School when the subcommittee was established, said yesterday the subcommittee was created as a "convenient" mechanism for evaluating minority applicants, and that its elimination "would not necessarily mean a decrease in the number of minority acceptances, although it could mean that."

"I don't feel that whether they keep it or eliminate it is of great importance. What is important is next year's admissions results, and maintaining a strong minority recruitment program," Ebert said.

Minority students now comprise 20 per cent of each class at the Medical School. This year the school accepted 5 per cent of a total of 3700 applicants, and 10 per cent of its minority applicants.

Several faculty members contacted yesterday, including associate deans Mitchell Spellman and S. James Adelstein, said they are unaware of the possible elimination of the minority subcommittee and do not have any opinion on the issue. Daniel C. Tosteson, dean of the Medical School, could not be reached for comment last week.

Among the other changes which Paul plans for next year are more simplified application forms, adding non-physicians to the admissions committee, and computerizing some admissions records.

The 1979 application form will be about half the size of this year's, and the questions will be cleaner, Paul said.

Two non-physicians--a professor of Law and a member of the advisory board to Massachusetts General Hospital--joined the admissions committee this fall. Paul said a third non-physician, perhaps a business representative, may join the committee next year.