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Isolation, segregation, financial aid

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By Michael J. Garrison

MIT minorities feel they still face many unresolved problems, according to a student panel of the Visiting Committee.

The panel, which included the chairman of many of MIT's minority groups, met to discuss "Racial/Ethnic Minority Students."

The topics discussed ranged from the low number of tenured minority professors to segregation in living groups. After each panel member had given an introductory speech, the panel took questions from both the Visiting Committee and the audience.

The debate focused on the problems caused by the poor minority representation at MIT, including a general feeling of isolation and a lack of administrative support.

Many minority students get accepted to MIT but cannot attend because they do not have the money, said David S. Martinez '85, chairman of La Union Chicana por Aztlan.

Financial aid cuts hurt minority students more than other students because minorities are much more likely to come from the lower economic brackets, Martinez explained.

"Only upper class minorities are actually getting in," Martinez said. He added that MIT does not have a commitment to recruiting minorities. The Institute has no Mexican-Americans or Native Americans in its administration.

Cecil W. MacCannon '86, co-chairman for the Black Students Union, told the committee MIT needs more minority recruiters. MacCannon said that each year many students come to MIT from his high school, but few of them are blacks, adding that he has helped to bring several black students from his school.

The Office of Minority Education (OME) and the Office of the Dean for Student Affairs (ODSA) are not sensitive enough to differences in social and academic needs, MacCannon said. He described the OME as being "stunted from its initial inception," explaining that OME should be separated from the ODSA.

MacCannon, in his opening address, said residing in Chocolate City, a living group in New House 1 which is 95 percent black, has many advantages for him. But it is all male, and he expressed a desire to see something similar made available to women students.

When asked by the Visiting Committee, he added that students live in Chocolate City because they want to, not because of any MIT policy. The space is limited, with only 27 openings.

Suzanne S. Pan '85, who represented Asian students on the panel, accused MIT of neglecting the needs of Asian students. MIT does not officially consider Asians to be minority students. Pan suggested that MIT provide an Asian counseling staff in the ODSA. She also brought up the idea of a Third World Center.

Gays also should be recognized by MIT as a minority, charged Stephen J. LeBlanc '85. They suffer from the most blatent discrimination, he added, explaining that gays are prohibited from joining ROTC and often have trouble getting into fraternities. He suggested MIT hire at least one administrator who is openly gay and can counsel gay students.

Patricia Pereira '87, vice president of the Puerto Rican Student Association, noted that Puerto Ricans often have less trouble than other minorities because they are in the majority at home. Mainland Puerto Ricans, however, have many of the same problems as other groups.

The other members of the panel were Daphne L. Smith G, co-chairman of the Black Graduate Student Association, and Felicia A. Duran '85, who moderated the discussion panel.