MSA Joins Affirmative Action Day

California, Texas schools organize protests, rallies

Outside the Science Center yesterday, members of the Minority Student Alliance (MSA) collected signatures in support of affirmative action in higher education.

Their efforts coincided with nationwide protests attacking the demise of affirmative action, which took place over the past two days during the "National Days of Action to Defend Affirmative Action."

"I think there's a national move today and tomorrow to show solidarity and unity to counteract a national regression from affirmative action policies, particularly in higher education," said Jobe G. Danganan '99, a member of MSA tabling in front of the Science Cente.

Over the past two days, public universities in California, Texas and Michigan organized walkouts, teach-ins and rallies in support of affirmative action.

Walkouts were held at the University of California at Berkeley, the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) and the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor.


According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, 500 students attended the noon rally at Berkeley's Sproul Hall, 300 thronged UCLA's Meyerhoff Park, and 150 students rallied in front of the student union at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor.

But Harvard's MSA chose to show its support of affirmative action in quieter ways.

Yesterday, the MSA collected signatures against Proposition 209--the ballot measure that eradicated affirmative action in the University of California school system last year.

Danganan said the group will then draft a letter to the state secretary of California with the help of a group of progressive students at Harvard Law School.

The MSA also collected signatures for a petition to Representative Frank D. Riggs (R-Calif.) and other members of Congress, protesting Riggs' proposed Higher Education Act, which would eliminate affirmative action at all public and private universities.

The group distributed ribbons yesterday to show support for the University of California walkouts.

"If we don't mobilize action now, we could be in danger," Danganan said.

Ethel B. Branch '01, co-chair of the MSA, said yesterday's tabling effort was a success, yielding nearly a hundred signatures per petition.

Many students who walked by the MSA table yesterday said they had not been aware of the University of California walkouts but were more than willing to offer their support.

"If it says affirmative action, I'll be glad to sign in support," Christopher J. Shim '02 said. "I'd walk out, too, if I could."

"Until schools are equal, we have to continue affirmative action," Nicole P. Saffold '02 said. "I get riled up over this subject."

Danganan said the MSA decided not to schedule a bigger event because Harvard isalready a strong proponent of affirmative action.

"I think a walkout at Harvard would beinsulting for Harvard given its strong support ofaffirmative action," he said. "Our efforts arebetter channeled through letters from concernedHarvard students to California and Congress."

An affirmative action discussion scheduled fornext week fell through after Derek C. Bok, formerHarvard president, and Roger Banks, head of theCollege's Undergraduate Minority RecruitmentProgram, could not make it.

According to Branch, Nathan Glazer, a professoremeritus at the Graduate School of Education and aonce-vehement attacker of affirmative action wholater came to support it, agreed to speak at thediscussion if Bok spoke.

But Branch said Glazer changed his mind afterhe discovered that he would be the lone speaker