Leaders of the Kennedy School's Student Association (KSSA) this week expressed dissatisfaction with the school's affirmative action record and urged administrators to solicit more student input on "short and long term discrimination problems."
In a letter sent Tuesday to Graham T. Allison '62, dean of the school, the KSSA 11-member governing board calls itself "deeply concerned about the disproportionately small number of women and minorities at the school."
The letter suggests that the administration "take advantage of the professional expertise" of many K-School students with "direct experience in the field of affirmative action and contract compliance."
Three weeks ago, the Women's Equity Action League (WEAL) filed a complaint, pending decision by the Department of Labor, charging the school with violating federal affirmative action hiring codes. The students' letter refers to the complaint and also expresses concern over the school's lack of minority and women students.
Lori Forman, chairman of the KSSA's affirmative action subcommittee, said yesterday the governing board agrees the school needs more women and minorities but has not endorsed the WEAL complaint, which charges administrators with ignoring specific federal standards on the solicitation of advice on faculty appointments.
"It's not our role to determine fault--it is our role to determine what to do about it," Forman said. She added that governing board indecision over whether the KSSA should demand student membership on the school's all-faculty admissions' committee prevented her from presenting any specific proposals when she gave the letter to Allison.
Forman said Allison, who was unavailable for comment yesterday, "said over and over again that he welcomes student opinion."
Ira A. Jackson '71, associate dean of the school, said yesterday that student affirmative action subcommittee "is an appropriate mechanism" for transmitting student opinion to the school's all-faculty affirmative action committee, which he chairs.
Saying he "personally" opposes putting students on the faculty body. Jackson added. "I don't think changing the composition of the committee without changing the number of women or minorities in the student body" is the proper approach. Jackson said the school's top priority must be "to increase our recruitment efforts," but added he has "no idea" how other faculty members feel about placing students on the faculty committee.
Forman said disagreement among governing board member have prevented student mobilization. "Some feel the only answer is to demonstrate, others to educate, and then there are others who vacillate--it's very split," Forman said.
But she said she has tentatively organized two Forum discussions on "Institutional Racism and Sexism at the University" and on "Testing and Bias," which she said should "keep the issue alive."
Forman said she favors putting students on the faculty committee. "We have a tremendous stake in it if the school goes down the tubes." she explained, adding that students had been on a Masters of Public Policy admissions committee until several years ago, when administrators decided students had too little time and too limited perspectives to help the committee.
But Jackson, in a memorandum to Forman last week, wrote that he favors giving students review over incoming and rejected applications, but not during the committee's actual deliberations. He added that no professional school except the Education School allows students to sit on its admission committee