The Latino Coalition's complaints don't recognize ongoing efforts to increase minority presence. Members of the Latino Coalition have made a lot of noise this week about the University's "failure" to address Latino issues. But their concerns, ranging from low representation to high tuition costs, seem to have been made in a vacuum, without reference to the administration's current efforts -- or reality. We are all for increased minority presence and retention. Since the announcement of the Minority Permanence Plan in the fall of 1996, however, the University seems to have been taking steps toward those goals, particularly in the area of Latino representation. The number of incoming Latino students increased by 10 percent between 1996 and 1997. And the University brought in three new Latino professors last fall. Of course, these improvements are just a beginning. The University could always benefit from greater diversity. Additionally, Penn must work to hold on to minority students and ensure that quality minority professors are promoted through the ranks. It is a beginning though -- and an especially gratifying one since the numbers are plummeting elsewhere. The University of California at Berkeley, for instance, admitted only 434 Latino students into the class of 2002, in comparison to 1,045 admitted last year. The drop is due to a state-wide ban on racial preference. The Latino Coalition must recognize that dramatic positive change at Penn will not occur overnight. There is intense competition for bright minority students. And bringing in well-regarded minority professors is not as easy as sending an e-mail and having them show up the next morning. When the two Latino groups walked out of the United Minorities Council meeting last week, they said they thought they would be more successful communicating concerns on their own rather than as part of the umbrella organization. But since their departure from the UMC, the members of the Latino Coalition haven't been able to articulate a game plan for approaching the administration. The group doesn't even have a spokesperson. The UMC may not be the best possible mouthpiece. At least, though, the channels for communication are established. Administrators know how to contact UMC representatives, and they take them seriously. If you'd like to help the University's effort, go back to your high school and encourage minority students to apply. Or join the Admissions Office staff and let prospective students know about the receptive community at Penn.Comments powered by Disqus
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