Native Americans to gain assistant dean

In response to the growing Native American student population on campus, the University is soliciting applications for a new position — assistant dean and director of Native American affairs.

The new assistant dean will manage and oversee Native American student life, a responsibility that currently belongs to Associate Dean Rosalinda Garcia, who is director of both the Latino and Native American Cultural Centers. Some students said more support is long overdue for the often overlooked Native American community, but others said the position has not been necessary until now.

Student members of the NACC said the administration had been discussing the possibility of creating the position since last year. Yale College Dean Peter Salovey said the University received donations this semester that were specifically designated for the Native American community, pushing forward plans to establish the post.

The administration decided to separate Garcia’s dual position in light of increasing enrollment of both Latino and Native American students, Salovey said.

“Both the Latino and Native American student populations have been growing, and we have had one assistant dean in charge of both,” he said.

Salovey said Garcia has been lobbying the administration to hire another dean for years. Garcia could not be reached for comment Monday.

Dean of Student Affairs Betty Trachtenberg said that while most minority groups have traditionally been placed under the existing cultural affairs deans, Native American students should have their own dean because they have different concerns than members of other ethnic groups. Many Native American students come from rural backgrounds and are often among the first members of their community to attend Yale. Because the students also are members of different tribes, they do not necessarily share in the same cultural background.

“[The position] was created to give them the same kind of support that other cultural center deans give their groups,” Trachtenberg said.

Applications for the position should be submitted by Dec. 15, and the new dean will assume his or her official responsibilities by July 1, 2007, according to a listing published in this week’s The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Several Native American students said they are glad to see the administration addressing needs of their community.

Skawenniio Barnes ’10, who works in the Native American Cultural Center, said there are roughly 75 students of Native American descent on campus. Although the Chronicle job listing does not specify a preferred ethnicity, Barnes said, she hopes the new dean will be Native American.

“We really want someone who can actually identify with us, so that person really needs to understand our background,” she said.

Barnes said she finds it “strange” that the NACC must share a house with the Asian American Cultural Center while other cultural groups like La Casa have their own facility. She hopes the situation will change with the arrival of a separate administrative representative, she said.

Mica Gilmore ’07, the sole Native American ethnic counselor, said there are 21 Native American students in the class of 2010, compared to eight in the class of 2007. Having Garcia hold responsibility for two cultural centers is not ideal, she said.

“Having our own dean would really help us mobilize and really create a presence on campus,” she said.

Gilmore said it was somewhat “disturbing” that the administration did not create this position and others like it for underrepresented minority groups until now.

But Kayla Cagle ’08, vice president of the Association of Native Americans at Yale, said while her organization has been pushing for the establishment of a separate position for some time, a specifically Native American dean has only recently become essential.

“It’s not a surprise that we didn’t have a dean before,” Cagle said. “A group only deserves to be represented in the administration after demonstrating a certain amount of participation on campus, and we’ve been trying to be a bigger presence here.”

There are currently three assistant deans who oversee cultural and ethnic affairs on campus — Director of the Afro-American Cultural Center Pamela George, Director of the Asian-American Cultural Center Saveena Dhall, and Garcia.

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