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The changing nature of minority life
By VINCENT WILLMORE
Mack Home '85 strokes the skin along his right arm and says, "You wear this all the time." "When people look at me," he adds, "they might see a Princetonian or a young man, but I think they see a black Princetonian or a black young man." Like Home, many minorities at Princeton say that racial or ethnic background is a prime factor in shaping their attitudes and experiences, as well as in creating bonds between minorities. But while many minorities are striving to maintain those bonds, they are also moving in another direction: toward increased participation in eating clubs and "mainstream" campus organizations. "I think there has been an obvious increase in minority involvement both in clubs and in campus organizations," says Manuel Gonzalez '85, the first Hispanic president of the USG. Growing population Minorities today make up about one-sixth of Princeton's undergraduate student body of 5,000. While some find this percentage of minorities to be disturbingly small, it is nevertheless quite a change from the early 1970s when minorities first arrived at Princeton in appreciable numbers. At that time, participation in the eating clubs and in whitedominated organizations was minimal as many minorities concerned themselves with finding their own social havens and activities. Valid place "You had to make a place at Princeton, and in order for it to be valid, that place had to be outside the white community," says Madrienne Hampton '83, who
researched the history of the black community at Princeton as part of her independent work. Hampton recalls the use of the terms "hanging snow" or "hanging white" to describe minority students who joined clubs, adding that some minorities "would razz you even if you were just walking along with a white friend." Even in recent years, the inhibitions against joining clubs or whitedominated activities remained strong. Kara Edwards '85 recalls that during her freshman year "there was no in-between where you could say 'I can hang out with my black friends' and also go to parties at the clubs." But during the past two years, there has been a .growing sentiment among minorities that it is acceptable to participate in both whitedominated and Third World activities. The pressures against joining clubs and mainstream organizations seem to have faded. "There were just so many people who wanted to be RA's, who wanted to be peer counselors, who wanted to just go out and do what they wanted to do," Hampton says. "They're saying 'We are just going to go ahead and be part of Princeton.'" Centrifugal force A variety of personal and institutional factors have combined to move minorities toward the mainstream of campus life. Home, who was recently elected senior class treasurer, represents some of those changing currents. Part of his motivation for seeking class office came from his belief that he could promote the interests of blacks in the community-at-large. "I ran for the office of treasurer because I was concerned
about black students here at Princeton," he says. "I felt that a lot of black students were left out of the mainstream of the 'Princeton experience.' " The trend toward increased minority participation in the clubs and campus organizations seems to be continuing, as many minority students move out of their residential colleges and into eating clubs. Prior to the residential college system, many minorities chose to live near each other at places such as Forbes College. Now the scattering of minority students among the five colleges seems to be encouraging minorities to participate in mainstream campus activities. Changing roles But the division of minority students among the colleges has also changed the role of the Third World Center and other minority support groups in addressing problems unique to minority students. The Third World Center, if only
by virtue of its name, suggests an organization defined largely by international political concerns. It further suggests a group intent on strengthening the linkages between minorities in the United States and the Third World heritage from which they come. Indeed, as the interim director of the center, professor Arcadio DiazQuinones notes, the TWC was established by the university in 1971 as a result of "the growing consciousness of Third World countries and the relationship minority students felt to certain threads in their history." But in the thirteen years since the TWC was born, it seems to have switched from a political orientation — embodied in such activities as the divestiture protests of the late 1970s — toward a more serviceoriented and educational approach. "It was more political in the past," says TWC governance board member Raghu Murthy '85. "But
now people generally see that the way they can address those concerns is by getting good grades, good jobs and making changes elsewhere." Academic approach In response to this new trend in student interests, the TWQ has begun to push more strongly for a university curriculum that deals adequately with Third World history and'other relevant subjects. Career seminars have also become a regular part of a speaking program once dominated by forums on race relations. Marjorie Wilkes '84 attributes the change in the orientation of the center to changes in its student composition. Wilkes, who has held several TWC positions, says that the new slant of Princeton's minority recruitment programs has influenced the types of students who make up the TWC membership. "Fewer students are coming from inner city schools," she says. "The minorities now entering Princeton are much more middle class in background, goals and orientation." While Diaz says he feels the center provides a wealth of programs that link the "historical legacy of racism on both sides" to modern problems of minorities in the United States, he stresses the success of the TWC in addressing other problems of minority students. "The TWC is a support system for a loose federation of minority organizations that are particularly active within the Princeton community," Diaz says. The Organization of Black Unity, Accion Puertorriquena, the Chicano Caucus as well as other groups have memberships in the TWC and send representatives to the governance board.
Publisher Charles Taylor lectures at the Third World Center.
Th»>Baily Princetonian, Monday, July 23, 1984
j What's missing in the USG? I YO_ A_E! JOIN YOUR j Undergraduate Student Government (USG) J Social Committee Issues-in-Action j j Academics Committee Race Relations Committee ( I Residence Committee Undergraduate Life Committee ) j Contact the USG Office (121-3653) or the USG Executive Officers: j 1 Manuel Gonzalez, President Andy Lewis, Vice-President I I David Jackson, Treasurer Man Kamal, Academics Chairman 1 j Jerry McGroarty, Social Chairman Pippa Vanderstar, ULC Chairman I FRESHMAN WEEK OPEN HOUSE Thurs. September 13 - 1:30-2:30 - Whig Hall Lounge