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Minorities convene for lunch

I believe this starts inside.

By Alison C. Morgan

The third annual Unite and Support Luncheon, held Saturday in the Burton House Dining Hall, brought diverse minority groups together to discuss common concerns with each other and the MIT administration.

Members of several minority organizations on campus attended the meeting, including the Black Students Union (BSU), La Uni'on Chicana por Aztl'an and the Association of Puerto Rican Students (APR).

Joyce Gibson, director of the Office of Minority Education (OME), represented the administration, along with Dean for Student Affairs Shirley M. McBay and Assistant Dean for Student Affairs Janice Cooper.

Gibson, the keynote speaker, emphasized that minorities' "relationship to the Institute as a whole is primary ... because you are here to get an education." She asked members of the audience what extracurricular activities they were involved in that were not minority-oriented, reiterating that they are "students" before they are "minorities."

Progress has been made with admissions policies since the late 1960s, when "three or four minorities existed per class," she said. She added, however, that "Native Americans, Mexican-Americans, black Americans and Puerto Ricans are still substantially underrepresented at MIT in comparison to national population percentages."

The significant drop in black freshman enrollment this year can be attributed to several outside factors, Gibson explained, including the fact that "only two to three thousand black high school students nationwide take the PSAT [Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test] each year." Admissions Office recruitment relies in part on a list of high school seniors and their performance on the PSAT, purchased from the Educational Testing Service.

Black freshman enrollment at MIT declined from 65 students in the Class of 1989 to 40 in this year's entering class [The Tech, Oct. 29, 1985].

An open group discussion followed Gibson's speech. During this time, members of various groups voiced their mutual concerns, including recruitment, a general lack of role models, scholarships and financial aid. It was also decided that similar meetings be planned for IAP and the spring term.

Afterwards, officers from different organizations expressed pleasure at the outcome of the luncheon. APR President Marcos Esterman '88 remarked that it was good to see the OME director taking intiative. Norman L. Fortenberry G of the Robert R. Taylor Network said it was a "good start" and that "minority groups showed a readiness to express their views to the MIT administration."