By Monty Harris
In an attempt to elimate racial tension which has developed in the last several weeks among residents of Boston University’s 700 dormitory, an Inter-Racial Committee has been formed and is currently holding informal discussions on each floor.
The floor meetings are produced by one of six teams, consisting of one senior staff member, who is a full-time assistant director, and three interested residents, according to Dick Svrluga, director of 700.
“They have been successful to date in enabling the residents to voice their opinion, release emotions, and better understand people they may otherwise never meet,” he said.
On Oct. 9, the 700 student government met to discuss rising hostility between whites and blacks in the dorm. The macing of a black student in front of the building, and continued racial conflicts in the city, prompted the meeting, according to Svrluga.
The “rap sessions” will continue until next week, he said, when all 42 floors will have met with representatives of the
Inter-Racial Committee. Last night, members of the BU faculty discussed the issue of racism in one of 700’s halls, Svrluga said.
“At some of the meetings that I have attended residents claimed there is no racial tension on their floor or in the dorm,” said Beverly Cooper, a member of one team supervising floor meetings. “These people feel that the committee will create tension, but in reality most of them prefer to remain in a dreamworld and ignore the issue.
“The committee has caused many people to think about existing black/white tension, and to become better acquainted with neighbors,” she maintained. “The committee will continue next year, as a service to 700 residents, to orient people with one another.”
“Many black students at BU are afraid to walk the streets of Boston now, and this frustration is necessarily brought back to the dormitories,” said Ava Haskins, a black committee member. “But I think the tension has eased recently. I notice more blacks and whites interacting and I even had a brief conversation with two white students the other day while riding the elevator.
“Many 700 residents complain that black students alienate themselves by eating together in a group at the cafeteria,” she continued. “They form stereotypes that the black student is not interested in the white student. But black actions have always been criticized by other cultures, when other people do the same, because our physical appearance is more noticeable to others,” Haskins said.
Bob Waxer, who has been a desk attendant in the lobby of 700 for three years, said he should know the inter-racial picture in the building “better than most people.
“I’ve noticed less physical and verbal assaults this year between blacks and whites here than during my first two years as a resident,” he said. “There is not as much open aggressiveness, possibly due to a present humane consciousness of students in general.
“Many of the white students are unaware or indifferent to minority struggles,” Waxler said.