Representative of undergraduate publications and minority groups will meet formally for the first time today to discuss ways of improving race relations among student organizations.
Today's meeting will launch a series of discussions set up by the race relations task force, a subdivision of the student-faculty Committee on College Life. The meetings are being sponsored by the College and the Harvard Foundation, a College administrative body set up to foster improved race relations.
The meetings will address interracial interaction among all student groups and the integration of minority students into mainstream organizations, such as The Independent and The Opportunes. Today's meeting will specifically address the issues of minority membership in undergraduate publications and the coverage of minority events, according to Douglas A. Winthrop '86, chairman of the race relations task force.
To address those issues, Winthrop has invited representatives from The Crimson, The Independent, The Advocate, and The Salient to speak with members of the Black Students Association (BSA), La Raza, La Organizacion, and the Asian American Association.
Winthrop said he hoped the meeting would help define what problems exist between mainstream and minority groups. Although several informal meetings of this type took place last year, Winthrop said he hoped the official meeting would allow undergraduate leaders to see if there "is a benefit to simply dialogue."
Winthrop suggested that something like a joint forum by The Crimson and the BSA on Black journalists might result from the discussion session. He said that in coming months, he will have members of mainstream singing groups, like the Opportunes meet with minority singing groups, like the Kuumba singers.
Many of the student leaders interviewed yesterday said they do not consider race relations a problem at their organizations, but that they wanted to clear up any perceived problems that might cause a strain in race relations.
"Just by providing information and disspelling myths, we will be able to increase minority participation in undergraduate publications," said BSA President Darry1A. Parson '87.
Crimson President Jeffrey A. Zucker '86 echoed these sentiments. "I don't think there are any inherent problems with The Crimson and minorities. I think there is a greater problem in that some minorities feel that The Crimson can't become a home for them. I hope we can discredit those fears."
Parson cited the extensive time commitment (especially for students holding work study jobs) and the lack of Black role models as reasons that few Blacks comp The Crimson and other publications.
Peter D. Gadol '86, president of the Advocate, said history can scare away minorities as well. "The Advocate suffers the same problems as any organization on campus in that it is difficult to attract minorities to an organization that is so old."
Other leaders said they were certain that problems existed. "Our Black representation is particularly low," said Independent President Daniel J. Hammond '86. "It's not a question of selectivity--we just don't initially attract them. We'd like to be educated in how to do an outreach" to Blacks at Harvard