The Undergraduate Council last night overwhelmingly approved a resolution calling on Harvard to step up its recruitment of minority and women faculty, and the body will sponsor a campus-wide petition drive this week to pressure the administration on the issue.
In another key vote, the council urged the College to retain the present system of assigning houses, which allows students a limited amount of choice through the use of a lottery. The masters have proposed that 25 percent of the spots in some houses be assigned randomly to improve residential diversity.
The council's resolution on faculty recruitment--the work of an ad hoc committee including representatives of minority and women's organizations--made 12 recommendations designed to increase the numbers of minority and women scholars at Harvard. All of the proposals were drawn from past reports, including one released by the Minority Students Alliance (MSA) last spring.
The resolution calls for the "development of a mechanism to hold departments accountable for their failure to recruit minority and women faculty applicants." No specific mechanism is suggested.
The council also called for the establishment of special search committees to tap perspective "minority and women applicants in departments underutilizing" members of those groups.
The resolution passed with only two "no" votes. An amendment to include language calling on the University "to maintain the highest standards of academic excellence" in its effort to increase faculty diversity failed after brief debate.
Council representatives and others involved in the ad hoc committee will solicit signatures for the petition in all dining halls Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday this week.
Council leaders said they hoped to have 3000 students sign the document which will then be presented to a high-profile faculty committee studying the recruitment of women and minority scholars and expected to release its findings in February.
Dean of the Faculty A. Michael Spence formed the committee last spring in response to the MSA report, which attacked the administration for "complacency" on the issue and its decentralized structure for repsonding to thedearth of minority faculty at Harvard.
Council member Clive P. Rowe '89 moved to amendthe resolution to state that the council affirmsthe University's primary commitment "tomaintaining the highest standards of academicexcellence." "These standards should under nocircumstances be compromised," read Rowe'samendment, which eventually failed.
Former Council Chair Evan J. Mandery '89 spokeagainst Rowe's motion, saying a lowering ofstandards might be justified in the interest ofdiversifying the faculty. But he also said Harvardwould probably not have to dilute academicexcellence to hire minorities and women.
"I think you can rest pretty safely thatHarvard will not take the first woman or minorityoff the street and give them tenure because theyare a woman or a minority," Mandery said.
And Lucy H. Koh '90, who chaired the ad hoccommittee, asked, "Why is there always animplication that women and minorities are notqualified? Why would they hire anyone who wasn'tqualified?"
The debate of the housing lottery resolutionwas not lengthy, and it passed with only minimaldissent.
A move by Mandery and Jennifer R. Copaken `90to call on the College to institute a completelyrandom lottery system was soundly rejected. Theissue of house diversity arose last spring afterthe student-faculty Standing Committee onAthletics proposed that a limit be placed on thenumber of athletes that could be assigned to anyone house.
The student government also approved a planthat will allow house committees to apply for upto $150 a semester for parties. The body alsoallocated $500 for the traditional milk and cookiebreaks to be held in Lamont and Hilles librariesduring reading period