Forum Focuses on Student Efforts To Boost Minority Faculty Presence

Minority organizations should work together to force the administration to act on the problem of minority hiring at Harvard, said student representatives who attended a forum on minority concerns on Thursday.

The Civil Liberties Union at Harvard (CLUH) and the Harvard Foundation sponsored the event to discuss "the best way for students to represent themselves to get things done," said CLUH coordinator Kerry T. Houghton '90. The panel consisted of representatives from seven campus minority organizations and Kenneth E. Lee '89, chair of the Undergraduate Council.

Though the agenda included broader minority issues, discussion centered on the faculty's lack of minority representation and the need for students to press the administration. Approximately 40 students attended the event in the Lamont Forum.

Concern over minority faculty recruitment was spurred by a report released last spring by the Minority Students Alliance (MSA) which noted the paucity of minority faculty on campus, and criticized the administration for "complacency" in rectifying the situation. Minority professors make up 6.2 percent of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences

Dean of the Faculty A. Michael Spence, in response to the report, set up a high-powered faculty committee to look into the issue. That committee is expected to release a report in February.

Though several deans and professors were invited, none attended the forum. Assistant Dean for Race Relations andMinority Affairs Hilda Hernandez-Gravelle said,"The opportunity for students to create a dialoguemight have been disrupted by the presence" of afaculty member.

Explaining why she did not attend Thursdaynight's forum, Hernandez-Gravelle said: "Myfeeling is that they were not clear about theirdirection. It is not a question of understanding,but my sense is that a collective agreement hadnot been created yet."

Hernandez-Gravelle said the organizations needto establish "clarity and direction" before talkswith the administration could be productive.

Greg G. Nadeau '89, a former president of CLUH,called Hernandez-Gravelle's attitude"problematic." "They've got to start coming tothese meetings--anything else is just wastingtime," Nadeau said.

"I don't know what Dean Hernandez-Gravelle istrying to get at. There have been proposals forthe last eight years, Harvard has just not actedon them," said current CLUH president Neill S.Segal '90.

"Basically there is a complacency in thefaculty," said MSA representative Wendell C.Ocasio '89. "They are doing very little toincrease the number of minorities on the faculty."

Students attending the forum said Black LawStudents Association (BLSA) President Robert L.Wilkins alerted the organizations to theimportance of defining immediate goals for dealingwith the administration. Wilkins led June's BLSAsit-in to protest the Law School's lack ofminority hiring. He could not be reached forcomment.

David R. Adams '90, a member of the BlackStudents Assoication who attended the forum, saidthat "It is very important that the UndergraduateCouncil has taken this issue as one of its majorplanks."

Forums, said Houghton, also introduce issueslike minority hiring to students unfamilar withthe the efforts of minority organizations.

"I had a strong feeling that people left [theforum] with a desire to get involved," Houghtonsaid. "We know we can motivate people just bytalking about these issues.