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U.C. Makes Pitch for Diversity

Hyman, Rawlins Seek More Women, Minorities on Council

By Peggy S. Chen

When President Robert M. Hyman '98 and Vice President Lamelle D. Rawlins '99 were elected to head the Undergraduate Council last spring, they proclaimed an end to what they said was the WASP-dominated council of years past.

"There used to be one very dominant viewpoint on the council. It was the only viewpoint. I want to close the door on that for good," Hyman said.

And most of their recruiting efforts for council elections this fall have been targeted toward women and minorities.

Both Hyman and Rawlins have contacted various student groups such as the Black Students Association (BSA), the Bisexual, Gay and Lesbian Students Association (BGLSA), the Minority Students Alliance (MSA) and the Women's Leadership Project to encourage their members to run.

"We want to make the U.C. resemble the real makeup of the undergraduate body," Rawlins said.

Although they say it is too early to gauge how successful these recruitment efforts will be, the leaders of these groups say they appreciate Hyman and Rawlins' efforts.

"Any efforts to diversify are good, as long as there is not an attitude that they have to fill a quota," said Devi Sengupta '98, co-president of the MSA. "But I feel that their efforts are genuine."

The council has witnessed a significant decline in the diversity of its leadership over the last several years. In the fall of 1993, the council's eight-member executive board contained three blacks--including the council president--as well as two Latinos and three women. Last spring, there were no ethnic minorities and only two women on the board.

The recruitment efforts are part of Hyman and Rawlins' hopes "to secure progressive people who want to serve the community," according to the president.

Although Hyman and Rawlins hope for a change in council demographics, one potential drawback is the loss of the many councillors who will not run for re-election.

Former members said the decision to retire from the council stems from a variety of reasons, including other time commitments.

"The paradox of the council is that you want the people who are very involved, but the people who are very involved are the ones who don't have the time to commit," said Philip R. Kaufman '98, a former council executive who is planning to run again.

But others will not be returning to the council because of dissatisfaction with the current leadership.

"I don't support Rob and Lamelle's style of leadership,"said Elizabeth A. Haynes '98, who lost to Rawlins in last spring's race for vice president. "It seems overly antagonistic for me to be on the council if I can't support in any way the leaders of the council."

Hyman, however, said the council still welcomes a diversity of viewpoints.

"People don't necessarily have to agree with every plank in the platform of the Student's Bill of Rights. I want to be sure there is a diversity of view-points," Hyman said.

Interest in joining the council is on the whole, very high, said Election Commission member Gregory M. Heestand'98.

The Election Commission has worked on the more traditional methods of recruitment, postering, advertising and tabling.

As of last night, the Election Commission received 58 candidacy forms and expects a great deal more by the deadline at 5 p.m. today. At that time, candidates may begin their campaigns for the elections scheduled for October 2 to 4.

One hundred and thirty-two students ran for the council's 88 seats last fall. That number was bolstered by the three dozen candidates running under the umbrella of the Progressive Undergraduate Council Coalition (PUCC), which is now defunct.

Just 99 students ran for the council in 1994.

But this year's Election Commission members are confident that competition will be heated.

"[The election] is definitely on students' minds," said Heestand. "I'm confident that we're going to have a great turnout."

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