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Interethnic Group Formed

'Beyond Tolerance' Addresses Diversity Questions

By Mark N. Templeton

The first meeting of a newly organized interfaith and interethnic umbrella group left some students cautiously optimistic and others uncertain about the need for yet another group to address issues of diversity and understanding.

The group--called Beyond Tolerance--will organize informal dialogues and social events between ethnic and religious groups, said Eliot Z. Fishman '92, co-organizer of the group and co-chair of the Harvard-Racliffe Hillel InterEthnic Committee.

"We have diversity and tolerance, but not understanding between groups," Fishman said. "The aim is to bring those who aren't involved into these activities and organizations."

Co-organizer Mia S. Diamond '91-'92 said that the group "wants more student-run groups that would be more informal, more hands-on" than those sponsored by the Harvard Foundation or Race Relations Advisory Committee.

During the meeting, students suggested that the group examine structural problems at Harvard that make it difficult to achieve understanding.

"We should address why we are not beyond tolerance," Anthony J. McLean '92 said. "Harvard says that we should all come together and be enlightened."

But some students who attended the meeting said that the group might be addressing an issue which is already much-discussed on Harvard's campus. Suzanne F. Nossel '91, a race relations peer counselor, said that other Harvard groups already address much of the group's agenda.

"It is a crowded field," said Nossel, who works through Activiely Working Against Racism and Ethnocentrism (AWARE). "There are a lot of initiatives already undertaken, but there may be room for some sort of informal dialogue between groups for what issues there are between the groups."

And Hilda Hernandez-Gravelle, assistant dean for Race Relations and Minority Affairs, said she was pleased to hear that the group was organizing.

"Yes, it is true that there are many different groups emerging--in response to great need," Hernandez-Gravelle said. "My only caution for each group is to work with each other so they can all participate fruitfully together."

Beyond Tolerance decided that its first event--some type of discussion group--will center on the stereotypes different groups have of each other.

The group plans to hold events every two to three weeks and publish a monthly newsletter detailing the activites of ethnic and religious organizations, said Fishman.

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