Contention ensues over Minority Advisory pool

Charged with filling three open undergraduate seats on the University’s Minority Advisory Committee, the Yale College Council has already submitted a list of candidates to Yale President Richard Levin. But though Levin has not yet announced his selections from this list, there are already complaints from representatives of minority groups on campus who said they felt marginalized in this year’s selection process.

The council, which is made up of 18 faculty members, staffers and students and advises Levin on University policy, has been meeting regularly over the past academic year to address various issues confronting minority groups at Yale. Members of Concerned Black Students at Yale, the Muslim Students’ Association and Students for Justice in Palestine called on Levin to reinstate the MAC after controversy surrounding anti-war protests in the spring of 2003. Levin agreed to convene the council, and assigned the YCC the task of selecting its undergraduate members, just as it does for other University standing committees. But when the selections were announced in 2004, members of CBS expressed concern over the absence of any black students on the MAC, as well as the fact that CBS was not given any input in the selection of committee members.

YCC President Steven Syverud ’06 said the YCC wanted to accommodate students who felt left out of the selection process last time. He said he e-mailed members of the Asian American Students Alliance and talked to “almost every cultural organization” to obtain feedback on how much input these groups wished to have this year in the MAC committee selection process.

But roughly 24 hours before the applications were due Sept. 12, the YCC executive board met and decided not to allow any non-YCC members to have a role in the interview process or recommend specific candidates. Syverud said the YCC decided not to allow representatives from cultural organizations to participate directly in the selection process because such an action would be a departure from the YCC’s selection processes for all other standing committees. Syverud also stressed that cultural organizations were allowed no role whatsoever in the 2004 selections.

Rather, members of cultural organizations were encouraged to submit guidelines for the interviews and suggestions for selection criteria by Wednesday Sept. 14.

“The amount of inclusion was night and day from what happened two years ago,” Syverud said.

During an “emergency meeting” the night of Sept. 12 held in conjunction with an AASA executive board meeting, Syverud solicited suggestions from those in attendance. AASA Moderator Chris Lapinig ’07, a News staff reporter, said he invited representatives from other cultural groups, including the Black Students Alliance at Yale, Despierta Boricua, Alianza and MeCha, to attend the meeting but only representatives from Association of Native Americans At Yale came. Esther Quintana ’07, co-moderator of Alianza and a staff photographer for the News, said this might have been because of the late notice many received of the meeting.

But Suraiya Jetha ’06, the head ethnic counselor, said she still was not satisfied with the role cultural organizations were given in the process.

“I’d like to see more people involved in the selection process for a committee that has the opportunity to influence the entire Yale community,” Jetha wrote in an e-mail. “I have no problem with the YCC being involved in the selection process; I only think that there could be more perspectives considered that aren’t always represented in the YCC.”

Lapinig said he also felt the there was a general sense of “disillusionment,” and that the effects of AASA’s input would be minimal.

Syverud said he kept in e-mail contact with members of the cultural organizations, and met with Lapinig several times before the due date for MAC applications. But Lapinig questioned the level of response from other cultural groups

Lapinig was the only representative to send in a set of recommendations, Syverud said.

“They were very helpful because they gave us a good sense of what good questions to ask would be,” Syverud said.

Levin is expected to announce the new approved MAC members sometime in the next few weeks.

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