U.C., Student Groups Appeal for Women, Minorities

The current leadership of the Undergraduate Council (U.C.) is actively recruiting women and Asian-American students to run for the council. Elections for seats on the U.C. begin on Thursday.

According to figures provided by Lamelle D. Rawlins '99, who last year was elected the first female U.C. President, last year's council was 28 percent female and 7 percent Asian American.

Various student organizations on campus have issued pamphlets, held meetings and met with undergraduate recruits to encourage diversity on the U.C.

Most recently, the Asian American Association (AAA) mailed an open letter to the Asian-American community at Harvard. The pamphlet, which was co-signed by the presidents and political chairs of AAA, as well as by Rawlins, stated that "the Undergraduate Council is facing a crisis."

"Under-representation strips us of our political presence on campus," the letter stated. "Under-representation sets a discouraging precedent for future generations.... Under-representation fuels the stereotype that Asian Americans are passive."


Jay F. Chen '00, the AAA political co-chair and also a Crimson editor, said that Asian-American voices are needed to advocate multi-cultural and Asian-American studies and minority recruitment on campus.

"I hope that this brochure will spark more interest in running for the U.C. among the Asian-American communi- ty and in politics in general," Chen said.

Rawlins said that diversity is also important as the U.C. begins to lobby for greater diversity among Harvard faculty members, especially for more women.

"I've been trying to explain to people why we need women and minorities on the U.C.," Rawlins said. "I can try my best to represent people but I cannot guarantee that it will be authentic unless it comes from them."

Students often say that the U.C. has little power, and that their efforts would not be worth their time.

"The administration can justifiably say that [U.C. members] don't represent the students because such a low percentage of the student body voted us to this position," said E. Sonny Elizondo '00, co-chair of the U.C. election commission. Turnout at recent U.C. elections has hovered around only a third of the undergraduate body.

"At the same time, the student body doesn't concern itself with the workings of the council because they see we can't effect change without the affirmation of the administration," Elizondo added.

The efforts of Rawlins and the student groups to attract women and minorities so far have not produced visible results.

Of 40 students who attended an information meeting for women last week, just 10 have actually turned in petitions for candidacy, Rawlins estimated.

Several Houses also have had a problem attracting candidates to run for the council, according to Benjamin W. Hulse '99, co-chair of the U.C. election commission.

Currently, there are officially no candidates from Dunster House and only one from Cabot House. Marco B. Simons '97, the former leader of the Dunster House U.C. delegation, Graduated and left the House without U.C. leadership, according to Hulse.

"When such a significant figure leaves, it's going to pull down the number of people running," Hulse said

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