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Committee Moves Forward with Race, Diversity Discussion

By Madeline R. Conway and Steven S. Lee, Crimson Staff Writers

Members of a student-faculty working group convened to address issues of race and inclusion at the College have started meeting for the semester and plan to draft a set of recommendations to present to Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana by the end of the academic year, according to Pusey Minister Jonathan L. Walton.

Walton, who chairs the working group, said the committee met once in May and has continued to meet this semester on the first and third Wednesdays of every month. The first couple of meetings, Walton said, have focused on making sure that the group was “on the same page” and clarifying its mission, which he described as creating “cultures of inclusion” at the College.

The committee will focus on gathering information throughout the fall and look to implement some test projects in the spring, Walton said. The group’s end goal is to produce a “set of concrete recommendations...for practices, for thinking about how we allocate resources” and for “additional activities, programs, and services we can undertake to continually enhance our sense of inclusion on this campus,” said Khurana, who convened the group last spring.

That semester, a social media campaign about black students’ experiences on campus titled “I, Too, Am Harvard” attracted international attention and sparked increased campus discourse about race and diversity. Khurana said he expects socioeconomic status, race, and ethnicity to be among the topics the working group discusses, but “there could be others,” he added.

The group’s membership includes several African and African American Studies professors, including department chair Lawrence Bobo, as well as Executive Director of the Harvard University Native American Program Shelly C. Lowe, men’s basketball coach Tommy Amaker, Assistant Dean for Dversity Relations and Communications Robert Mitchell, and three undergraduates. One of the undergraduates, Kimiko M. Matsuda-Lawrence ’16, wrote and directed “I, Too, Am Harvard.”

Former Interim Dean of the College Donald H. Pfister, who convened the working group with Khurana last spring, said he is not involved with the committee. Khurana is not sitting on the group.

Josephine M. Kim, a lecturer at the Graduate School of Education and a member of the group, said she hopes to bring a unique perspective to the committee’s work as a person of Asian descent.

“I’m excited to be on the committee to hopefully be able to bring a voice that might not exist otherwise,” she said.

So far, the working group has divided itself into three subcommittees. Kim said each subcommittee will focus on studying one of three sources—peer institutions, other schools at Harvard, and students and student groups at the College. The subcommittees will be looking to consider “best practices” for creating an inclusive environment on campus and to hear from students about their needs.

Pforzheimer House Master Anne Harrington ’82, who sits on the working group, will lead the subcommittee that will reach out to current Harvard undergraduates. Her group met this week and plans to run focus groups and meet with student leaders, she wrote in an email.

—Staff writer Madeline R. Conway can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @MadelineRConway.

—Staff writer Steven S. Lee can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @StevenSJLee.

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Student LifeRaceHigher EducationCollege NewsRakesh Khurana