Minority Council expands

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Based on what he referred to as the success of the Minority Advisory Council since its re-introduction last February, University President Richard Levin recently expanded the group to include three new council members.

After soliciting recommendations from the Yale College Council and the Graduate and Professional Student Senate, Levin and MAC Chairman Drew Days — who is a professor at the Law School — appointed Michael Smith ’06, Neema Trivedi ’05 and Dora Cudjoe GRD ’05 to the committee.

The students will join the current group, which consists of three undergraduate students and two professional school students, and will probably serve for about one year, Days said. The MAC meets regularly to discuss — and attempt to ensure — the welfare of minority groups at Yale. Members also advise Levin on relevant policies.

Days said two of the three new appointees attended last week’s MAC meeting. The meeting provided a chance for the new members to become assimilated with the other council members, he said.

“I think they’re going to be great additions,” Days said. “They got very actively engaged right off the bat. At the meeting, they sat and listened for a while and got a sense of what had been discussed at prior meetings and what the thoughts of the other members were, then they pitched in.”

Days said the additional pairs of “eyes and ears” will give the council a more panoramic view of minority viewpoints on campus.

Trivedi, who is the president of the South Asian Society and a board member of the Asian American Student Alliance, said she accepted the MAC’s invitation “immediately.” Trivedi said she appreciated the work of the MAC before she was appointed and is excited to work more closely with the group.

“They’re a really energetic group of people,” Trivedi said. “I think three undergraduate students was not nearly enough to represent all the opinions on campus. And I think the best way to go about improving a group like MAC is to get on it.”

Trivedi said she is not sure which specific issues she would like to address first, but she is eager to evaluate holistic concerns.

“I think it’s important not only to address formal processes and procedures but to work out ways to increase trust among groups — the administration, the student body, the Yale Police Department,” Trivedi said. “Students, professors and administrators need to feel that issues are being addressed. That’s the over-arching goal of MAC — to make sure there’s a level of comfort with the student body at both the undergraduate and the graduate level.”

Trivedi said she thinks it is important to make sure the council represents each ethnic group that has a large presence on campus, including South Asian and African-American students, because both have expressed concerns about minority issues at Yale.

Cudjoe, who serves on the Graduate and Professional Students Senate, said she was concerned about the challenge of the new position but still eager to join the council. She said the fact that there is a greater number of undergraduates than graduates on the council is not important because of the group’s unity of purpose.

“We may have different backgrounds and knowledge, but now we have one goal in common: to live up to the expectations of the minority groups on campus,” Cudjoe said. “I’m sure our differences will be dissipated when we come together as a group.”

Cudjoe said she is eager to address international students’ immigration problems. An international student from Ghana, Cudjoe said she is excited to bring concerns of the “outsider” student to the council for discussion.

“I am a minority leading a group of minorities,” she said. “I hope we can learn from and contribute to each other.”

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