Charles C. Johnson
In American Studies, all four candidates being considered in the final selection are black. Religious Studies reports two black males among the five final candidates for the appointment. Economics includes one black PhD in its short list. Language and Linguistics two blacks and one Chicano candidate, and Art one Chicano applicant…”
“I’ve recently become aware that there is presently developing on this campus, an attitude of suspicion and intolerance towards certain groups,” [Eric Newhall, professor of English] announced, “mainly against blacks, Chicanos, Jews, and gays.” These prejudices he said, result from the frustration that many are feeling such problems as a spiraling inflation rate, high unemployment, and a high crime rate. Such conditions lead people to “search for scapegoats.” But he added “if we can’t stop harassment on this campus, we really don’t stand much of a chance of stopping it anywhere else.”
[Newhall] admitted that “we all say we want affirmative action but we don’t want to pay what it apparantly [sic] will cost. Minorities with PhDs are in scarce supply, and thus will cost more to hire.” He said that he doesn’t like the idea of “someone else being paid more than I am for doing the same work I’m doing,” but that he liked even less having a “virtually all white faculty.”
Newhall then presented a plan designed to help increase minority enrollment. This spring, the Multicultural Education Committee, along with the admissions office, is planning to invite all accepted minority applicants to campus for a reception, in hopes that they can be convinced into choosing Occidental. I’m specifically asking the student body and the SCC to support our efforts, both emotionally and financially,” he said.
- It was overlooked to ask for any minority representation on the Dean of Faculty Search Committee. We find the position of the Dean of Faculty a viable one for the encouragement of Affirmative Action.
- Taking into consideration the geographic location of Occidental College, we would expect that Occidental would be more conducive to an ethnic and cultural atmosphere. Yet, we have only two full time Hispanic and only two full time Black faculty members.
- Over the past couple years, minority enrollment has increased, yet the attrition rate of minority students has also increased. The entering classes of 1970 and 1980 have had a decreasing enrollment of Black students.
Increased attention to minority rights, begun in the 1960s, also continued to command attention. Seeking greater minority representation, students and faculty members on February 18, 1981 held a rally in front of Coons Hall during a meeting of the trustees. A “Minority Caucus” sought more multicultural courses, to be taught by minority members. The faculty and administration, however, decided against tokenism that would admit students of marginal abilities to enlarge minority representation. Although aptitude tests would henceforth be weighted more lightly in the case of minority applicants, the college, as a small institution, did not possess the resources to service deeply-disadvantaged students.
A faculty committee on multicultural education, in 1982, became the committee on minority issues, consisting of faculty members, students, administrators, staff members, and alumni. This group sought to identify problems faced by campus ethnic minorities. An outgrowth of meetings of minority administrators and of a faculty caucus, the committee advised expansion of the minority presence on campus, although the college had already expanded its commitment to “Affirmative Action.” In 1984 President Gilman said about the effort:
The College has been engaged for 20 years in an effort to increase diversity among the student body and faculty. In the ‘60s we received three quarters of a million dollars to provide assistance to minority students. And we have been actively seeking more minorities since ’64. Because of this, the College has been strengthened and enriched. (See Andrew F. Rolle, “Occidental College: A Centennial History,” 1887-1987)