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MSA Sends Letter To Lewis

Calls for Sensitivity In New Masters

NO WRITER ATTRIBUTED

The Minority Student Alliance (MSA) called for greater minority sensitivity in the appointment of masters for Cabot House and Pforzheimer House in a February 28 letter to Dean of the College Harry R. Lewis '68.

"Given the increasing diversity of the Harvard student body as well as the recent outbreak of racially charged incidents, we strongly believe that any future master must be aware of and responsive to issues facing minority students," read the letter coauthored by Albert H. Khine '97 and Sheila N. Swaroop '96, the MSA co-chairs.

In interviews, Khine and Swaroop said they wrote the letter because of recent complaints about the insensitivity of various masters to minority issues.

"We have heard complaints about masters looking uncomfortable and not wanting to talk with [minority students]," said Khine, who is a Crimson editor.

"Students actually came up to us because there were instances where masters were being unsensitive," Swaroop added.

According to Kline, this is a particularly important time for minority student issues because of randomization and the increasing diversity of the houses which will follow.

"I don't think it's just Cabot and Pforzheimer," he said. "Every master should demonstrate familiarity with minority issues. Right now that's not even a factor in the selection process."

Khine said that he and Swaroop met with Lewis last Thursday, but that the meeting ended in a stalemate.

"Dean Lewis was very receptive to the letter, but he said that the minority professors that he talked to had other plans [and were not interested in becoming house masters]," Khine said.

He added that Lewis said faculty had come to him with similar requests.

According to Khine, in the meeting with Lewis the students discussed the importance of sensitivity to minority needs not only for house masters, but also for house tutors, especially since some houses do not have race relations tutors.

He pointed to two incidents that involved house masters in minority conflicts in past years: repeated incidents of racial graffiti in Mather House, and a student who hung a Confederate flag outside her Kirkland House room window.

"In the Mather case, the master was wonderful," he said. "When these things happen, it's important to have a master who can deal with them."

Prior to meeting with Lewis, Khine said he and Swaroop hoped to find a minority master for Cabot and Pforzheimer Houses.

Although they are disappointed at the outcome of the meeting, Khine said they were aware of the difficulties they would face from the beginning.

"We thought it was important to [include the terms] 'minority sensitive' since masters are chosen from professors and there's a dearth of minority professors so the pool [is] smaller.

"Students actually came up to us because there were instances where masters were being unsensitive," Swaroop added.

According to Kline, this is a particularly important time for minority student issues because of randomization and the increasing diversity of the houses which will follow.

"I don't think it's just Cabot and Pforzheimer," he said. "Every master should demonstrate familiarity with minority issues. Right now that's not even a factor in the selection process."

Khine said that he and Swaroop met with Lewis last Thursday, but that the meeting ended in a stalemate.

"Dean Lewis was very receptive to the letter, but he said that the minority professors that he talked to had other plans [and were not interested in becoming house masters]," Khine said.

He added that Lewis said faculty had come to him with similar requests.

According to Khine, in the meeting with Lewis the students discussed the importance of sensitivity to minority needs not only for house masters, but also for house tutors, especially since some houses do not have race relations tutors.

He pointed to two incidents that involved house masters in minority conflicts in past years: repeated incidents of racial graffiti in Mather House, and a student who hung a Confederate flag outside her Kirkland House room window.

"In the Mather case, the master was wonderful," he said. "When these things happen, it's important to have a master who can deal with them."

Prior to meeting with Lewis, Khine said he and Swaroop hoped to find a minority master for Cabot and Pforzheimer Houses.

Although they are disappointed at the outcome of the meeting, Khine said they were aware of the difficulties they would face from the beginning.

"We thought it was important to [include the terms] 'minority sensitive' since masters are chosen from professors and there's a dearth of minority professors so the pool [is] smaller.

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