Forum talks diversity issues

While some students and their parents were braving the wet bleachers of the Yale Bowl on Saturday afternoon, about 30 attended a panel discussion on diversity at Yale, co-hosted by the Graduate Employees and Students Organization and the Undergraduate Organizing Committee.

During the discussion, which addressed racial diversity and equal access among Yale faculty and staff, GESO members distributed a report claiming that women and minorities are less likely to occupy higher-paying and higher-security jobs at Yale. The forum — which was attended mostly by members of the UOC and GESO and their parents — is part of a larger campaign the two groups spearheaded last month to increase awareness of faculty diversity issues by writing letters to the parents of all undergraduates.

According to the data in the GESO report, which was released in March and is entitled “The (Un)changing Face of the Ivy League,” only 19 percent of Yale’s tenured faculty are female, and approximately 5 percent of the entire faculty are black or Hispanic. By contrast, nearly 50 percent of the service and maintenance workers at Yale are black or Hispanic, according to the study.

GESO organizer Shana Redmond GRD ’08, who spoke on the panel, said Yale pales in comparison to other Ivy League schools in its efforts to hire minority and female faculty. Harvard announced last year that it would spend $50 million on diversity hiring and would also hire a senior vice provost for diversity, and Columbia University announced it would allocate $15 million to start a new recruitment campaign to diversify its faculty.

“The situation at Yale in terms of minority hiring is worse than the situation [at] at least half of its peer institutions,” Redmond said.

Yale College Dean Peter Salovey said University administrators are concerned about the lack of diversity among Yale’s faculty and are working to recruit a more balanced pool of professors.

“Every dean at this University … recognizes that we face the same challenge that many other institutions of higher education face, and that is the need to increase the diversity of our faculty,” Salovey said. “At the same time, we recognize that we’re not solving the underlying problem when we simply hire a faculty member of color from Harvard or Princeton.”

Salovey said Yale programs such as the Student Ambassadors Program, which aims to recruit underrepresented minorities and low income students, are also intended to encourage minority high-school and college students to consider future careers as college professors.

UOC member Josh Eidelson ’06 said he does not think Yale is approaching the problem with urgency.

“I don’t yet have the sense that the Yale administration appreciates how critical this issue is,” Eidelson said. “The better compensated a job is, the less likely it is to be filled by a minority.”

Speakers during Saturday’s panel argued that Yale has made more of an effort to hire minority faculty members over the last few years, but most of those hires have filled lower-paying non-tenured positions. Half of Yale’s part-time teaching jobs are filled by women and a third of them by people of color, according to GESO’s report.

“As the University has become more diverse, the part-time positions are increasingly filled by women and people of color,” GESO co-chair Melissa Mason GRD ’08 said. “It’s the de facto method. Yale is diversifying through its non-ladder track.”

The panelists said GESO and the UOC are lobbying for the reinstitution of the Political Science Department’s Institute of Race and Inequality at Yale, which has been defunct for several years.

Many panelists said they hope their efforts to inform students about diversity issues will not go unnoticed.

“Building bridges with undergraduates will be a long-term goal,” Redmond said.

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