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Consolidating several affirmative action movements, 30 minority students at the Kennedy School of Government formed a new group yesterday to push for increased minority faculty hiring and a diverse student body.
"All these little fires are burning separately," said Patricia Perez, a member of the new People of Color Coalition. "We need to unify all people of color and organize as a cohesive group."
The coalition said in a statement that its goal was to "concentrate all power for dealing with issues of ethnic diversity into one group...[and] establish the representation of minority students in the policy making process of the Kennedy School."
One out of 24 tenured faculty at the Kennedy School is a member of a minority group, as are four of the schools 58 junior professors, according to the 1990 Harvard University Affirmative Action Plan.
At their first open meeting yesterday, the coalition adopted an agenda that outlined strategies for increasing minority faculty. They called for broadening the search beyond Ivy League-educated candidates, increasing financial support for minorities in Ph.D. programs and setting specific time goals for the administration.
"We want the faculty and student population of this school to reflect the demographics of the people we are going to be administrating when we get out of here," said Sandra Perez, another member of the group.
Pointing to the rise of Black and Hispanic elected officials, steering committee member Nicolas A. Medina said "all these changes have occurred but the Berlin Wall at the Kennedy School is still up."
Steering committee member Preston G. Foster said that the organization hopes to have a broad-based appeal.
"Anyone who can help diversity happen--administration, external organizations, the press, alumni, advocacy groups and others," will be included, he said.
Students said that previous minority student groups have been hard to organize because the typical academic program at the school lasts only one or two years.
"Five out of seven people are new every year," said Medina, "We haven't made much noise because of the high turnover rate."
Still, coalition members said that the newinitiatives would be received well because thestudents' frustration level is higher than in thepast.
"It's boiling right now," said group memberMarcos Beleche
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