The undergraduate members of Yale’s Minority Advisory Council discussed ways for the University’s administrative institutions to address racial issues before about 20 students during an open forum at the Afro-American Cultural Center Tuesday evening.
The MAC members answered questions and fielded complaints from students on issues ranging from alleged racial profiling by Yale Police and the process of filing racial discrimination complaints with the administration to the possibility of instituting diversity training for freshman counselors and the availability of resources for nonwhite students on campus. The forum, which came less than a year since Yale President Richard Levin reinstated the MAC last spring, is the first of two forums planned for this fall.
MAC member Hector Silva ’05 told the students the council is looking for new ways to address the students’ complaints about the state of minority issues on campus.
“We’re definitely going to bring these things up and tell them to the people on the committee,” Silva said, referring to the full 15-member council, which includes graduate and professional students as well as administrators and professionals.
The council is designed to make recommendations to Levin on University-wide policies regarding minority affairs.
Some students at the forum said they were concerned about racial profiling by University Police, mentioning the recent decision of Ezra Stiles College Master Stuart Schwartz to increase police surveillance at the college in response to an unauthorized gathering of students in the college’s common room Oct. 15.
Sunny Kim ’06 said she does not think similar incidents in the past have evoked increases in police patrolling. Kim said she felt that the incident — which primarily involved black male students — may have constituted racial profiling. Kim suggested the creation of a public database where people can post incidents they believe may be racial profiling.
“It could trigger a mechanism of accountability on the part of the administration,” Kim said.
When the forum progressed to a discussion of the possibility of providing diversity training for freshman counselors, an ethnic counselor in the audience said a group of counselors are working with Dean of Student Affairs Betty Trachtenberg to set up such training to begin during the upcoming spring semester.
Brian Wayda ’07, a member of Realizing Race, a student organization that provides an outlet for dialogue in response to racial issues and related events on campus, said his group is working to arrange a series of discussions about racial issues with the freshman counselors.
MAC members also discussed the amount of resources available on campus for minority students. A student affiliated with La Casa Cultural, the Latino Cultural Center at Yale, said she felt that some of the cultural houses were underfunded.
“It’s hard to support your student groups when you’re constantly dealing with budget constraints,” said the student, who asked not to be named.
MAC member Tiffany Lu ’06 said she does not think there is enough publicity for the cultural houses.
“The cultural centers are not really integrated into the overall Yale community,” Lu said. “We need to let all students know about the cultural centers’ resources.”
Earlier this month, administrators unveiled a $1 million capital campaign to fund an annual debate-style lecture series at the Af-Am House.
Af-Am House Director Pamela George, who attended Tuesday night’s forum, said the University will match funds donated to the campaign by alumni with the stipulation that Yale’s money go toward renovations of the House.
“We’ve been blessed with an incredible group of alumni,” George said. “[It] stems from a commitment of the alumni and working hard to establish a connection with them.”
Some students suggested opening up the cultural houses as venues for lectures and classes, making the houses more prominent on campus maps distributed to freshmen and including the houses in campus tours.
Students also recommended that the council create a MAC Web site and a student survey to ascertain which issues are most important to students.
The council’s next forum is scheduled to take place Nov. 1 at 8 p.m. in Sudler Hall.
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