Administratiors' Efforts To Increase Minority Faculty Applaudeable
It never ceases to amaze me how passionately some of my fellow MIT students can articulate their personal opinions when it comes to matters of underrepresented minority recruitment. I do find it particularly ironic, however, that just pages before Philip G. Greenspun G denounces the efforts of certain MIT administrators to increase the pool of minority PhD applicants ["Recruitment of Minority Students Gives Biased View of Reality," Feb. 15], Coretta Scott King is quoted as imploring the MIT community to "take a pro-active approach against racism" ["King Calls for New Action on Racism," Feb. 15].
That Greenspun and so many other students feel their great powers of reason, no doubt validated by their MIT degree status, grants them license to pass a value judgment on the intentions and efforts of others is truly an enigma. I am especially confounded when these judgments are directed at issues concerning the state of underrepresented minority affairs, issues from which the overwhelming majority of the MIT population is far removed.
Clearly, there is no need to refute Greenspun's arguments as the ignorance about them is self-evident. Rather, I wish to address a matter that is largely misunderstood, and I believe, a matter that is at the heart of Greenspun's frustrations. Contrary to popular belief among most MIT students, ethnic, and racial equality is still an unrealized goal in this country, and yes, on this campus too.
Just because there are laws protecting civil rights, just because there are policies structuring business and educational hiring practices, by no means have underrepresented minorities achieved the economic, political, and educational equality necessary for them to live the proverbial "American Dream." In order to attain this equality, ethnic and racial minorities must be empowered.
And make no mistake about it -- the road to empowerment is not necessarily a six-figure salary. I challenge Greenspun to poll any group of students who have lived through ethnic or racial oppression on whether they would rather take a high-paying job as a peon in some big corporation or exploit a direct opportunity to uplift their respective communities. I am sure that Greenspun, as well as many other students, and especially faculty, would learn a great deal.
Greenspun writes: "Perhaps instead of trying to fix all of society's problems, we should look a little more closely at the actual experience of an MIT graduate student." As an MIT graduate student, and as a recent MIT undergrad as well, I think I am qualified to assert that the problems of society are not held at bay outside the confines of the Great Dome. The animosity apparent in Greenspun's own words is testimony to this.
I commend Associate Dean Isaac Colbert, Special Assistant to the President Clarence G. Williams, and all the other MIT administrators who preach graduate school and the pursuit of a PhD to underrepresented minorities as a mechanism for self-empowerment, and as a means for achieving total equality for themselves and their communities. I commend them merely for making an effort to affect positive change.
What do Greenspun and most other MIT students and faculty do to affect positive change, to empower the powerless? I daresay the answer is largely nothing, even though the responsibility clearly belongs to us all. The fact that there are formidable forces in this country resisting the move to redistribute equal portions of the American pie can be taken for granted. However, the fact that a conscientious effort must be made to counteract these forces cannot.
Alexander E. Long G