Four student leaders met yesterday with Dean of the College John B Fox '59 and several other administrators to argue for a new program of race-relations counseling that they say would dramatically improve the racial climate on campus.
The students requested the meeting to advocate professional race counseling for student organizations, beginning with the Undergraduate Council and undergraduate publications.
The undergraduates said they were optimistic the College will support their effort, and said they will begin recruiting other students to work on the plan.
Undergraduate Council member Victor G. Freeman '84, who attended yesterday's meeting, said the College "doesn't seem to be doing anything substantial in the race-relations area," and that they believe trained race counselors, either students or professionals, offer the best hope of improving student attitudes toward race.
Peter J Gomes, Plummer Professor of Christian Morals and minister of Memorial Church, who was at the meeting yesterday, called the discussion "productive," and said meetings will probably continue until a more precise proposal is drawn up.
Fox Assistant Dean of the College Mack I. Davis, and race-relations Foundation Director S. Allen Counter, the other administrators at the meeting, could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Natasha Pearl '83, another of the students, said the program would probably begin by offering the counseling to the Council and student media because those groups are the most visible.
"We don't want to just chat," she said, adding that by using specially trained counselors the sessions could be "very much directed toward the particular problems" of each group in dealing with race relations.
"I think it's something that most organizations, if they gave it a little thought, would consider useful," she added.
Members of the group emphasized that many questions remain unresolved. They and the administrators have not yet decided which College office, if any, would pay for the plan, and whether or not the Foundation would be involved.
"The Foundation still has a lot of problems to work out structurally," Freeman said, adding that he hopes the plan works "under Harvard College directly."
Sharon J. Orr '83, president of the Radcliffe Union of Students and a member of the group, said that from the meeting it was "fairly clear" the administration would help the plan Davis was designated as the administrator to work officially with the student leaders, she added.
The students said they will begin recruiting more students interested in working on race relations and will research how other colleges handle the issue, and then come back to the administration at the beginning of next term.
Curtis Hairston '84, president of the Black Students Association and member of the group, said he believes there is a definite need to improve race relations on campus, and that the idea of race-relations counseling is a "feasible idea."