Delving into issues ranging from racial profiling and hate crimes to diversity training for freshman counselors and faculty diversity, the undergraduate members of the Minority Advisory Committee held its second of two open forums Monday night in Sudler Hall.
At Monday’s event, which followed MAC’s first forum of the year on Oct. 26, MAC members fielded the audiences’ suggestions and concerns. The forums come about nine months after Yale President Richard Levin reinstated the MAC at the request of various minority groups on campus. The committee, comprised of 15 administrators, faculty, undergraduates and graduate students, personally advises Levin on campus racial issues.
An issue not discussed at last week’s forum, but brought up Monday night is the anti-Native American hate speech found on Cross Campus in October during the Columbus Day holiday and the weeklong celebration of Indigenous Peoples Day. Several students at the forum criticized Yale’s administration for failing to send an e-mail or other notice to the entire student body condemning the posters and chalk messages. One student told the MAC members that by not sending an e-mail, the administration implied racial discrimination is less important than the thefts and assaults that the administration does notify students about.
But Dean of Hispanic and Native American Cultural Affairs Rosalinda Garcia, who attended the forum, said the administration acted in accordance with the wishes of the Native American students affected by the hate speech by not sending a campus-wide e-mail. During a meeting held soon after the incidents, students told Yale College Dean Peter Salovey they were more concerned with the administration’s actions than its words, Garcia said.
“The students said it would be more productive to do something than to say something,” Garcia said.
Garcia said Salovey is considering hosting a gathering at his house Nov. 11 to discuss the Indigenous Peoples’ Day events.
MAC member Hector Silva ’05 said the forums are designed to hear students discuss racial problems in the community that they want the MAC to address.
“This forum is about what MAC can do,” Silva told some 30 students, professors and administrators who attended the forum.
Since it was reinstated this February, the MAC has been meeting with faculty members and ethnic counselors, along with other students, to gauge issues that are important on campus, said MAC chair Drew Days, a law professor. He said the forums are an extension of this process.
“The undergraduate and graduate members felt that these forums would be an opportunity to reach out more broadly and get a sense of which issues are really important,” Days said.
As in its previous forum, the MAC discussed racial profiling and hate incidents, grievance procedures, the resources and visibility of cultural houses, diversity training and faculty diversity.
“We’ll discuss these issues, and we’ll eventually come up with recommendations to President Levin,” MAC member Neema Trivedi ’05 said.
The MAC plans to meet Nov. 11 to discuss the issues brought up at the forum, MAC member Michael Smith ’06 said.
Days said he is confident the MAC’s influence on administrative policy will be substantial.
“We’ll have the ability to make an impact,” Days said.
Days said the MAC has been monitoring the administration’s responses to several cases already. Although he said he could not go into detail about the cases, he described them as allegations of harassment and threats.
“We have continued to monitor the University’s actions,” Days said. “We are determined to remain informed.”