Affirmative Action Banned from Some Schools

The Collegiate Times;

November 1, 2007


By Kerry O’Connor


BLACKSBURG, Va.—On Nov. 7, 2006, the state of Michigan voted to enact Proposal 2, which essentially banned affirmative action from the selection process in Michigan public universities. Because of a similar proposal enacted in California in 1996, both the University of Michigan and the University of California at Los Angeles were forced to brainstorm alternative initiatives to maintain diversity.

Ward Connerly, the chair of the California campaign and a primary supporter of the Michigan campaign, said that it is good for the universities to face the truth about the stereotypes affirmative action perpetuates when used as a tool for diversity.

"They want diversity, and what they mean by that is that they want a certain percentage, or what they call ‘critical mass,’ of black and Latino students," Connerly said. "We all know there is an academic gap between these students, and if you take away affirmative action, you take away the ability of universities to discriminate, and they want to be able to discriminate."

Linda Green, the director of communication of the division of student affairs at Michigan, does not want to accept this assumption because she is afraid it will prevent minority students from applying.

"That’s the real story here at Michigan, is that we feel very strongly about maintaining a diverse campus," Green said. "The reason diversity is important is that students have to want to come to a campus that is welcoming to all people."

While Connerly agrees diversity is important in universities, he believes affirmative action sometimes does more bad than it does good. He said it presumes black and Latino students cannot compete with Asian and white students, which perpetuates a damaging stereotype.

"I don’t think any of us want to be viewed as if we are less capable than someone else," Connerly said. "Senator Barack Obama said ‘conjugating your verbs properly is not acting white.’ That comment speaks to a certain social problem we have to address if we want to cure the academic gap between most black and Latino kids, and Asian and white kids."

Although the proposal did not take effect until late December 2006, after much of Michigan’s rolling admission had already been decided, the university is now taking steps to ensure it sustains diversity in student body, faculty and staff.

This Friday, Michigan will be hosting a half-day summit for students called Climate Matter, which will focus on campus diversity. In addition to the summit, the university has been sending representatives to primarily minority schools in Michigan cities to teach middle school and high school students that they are capable of attending the university as long as they work hard to reach the requirements.

While Proposal 2 prevents public grants to students based on race, it does not affect private organizations. The Alumni Association of the University of Michigan, a private organization, announced it would offer scholarships to students considering their race and gender.

Currently, Virginia Tech has an affirmative action policy in its admission process that it calls an equal opportunity policy.

"Diversity is absolutely important," said Amy Wider, public relations coordinator for Virginia Tech admissions. "As part of an educational institution it is important to have diversity of viewpoints, of location, and of all types of categories because the more that is available, the more opportunities we have to learn."

Connerly is currently pushing initiatives in Arizona, Colorado, Missouri, Nebraska, and Oklahoma. Virginia is not one of the 23 states that allow citizens to put initiatives on ballots, which allows citizen-proposed statewide mandates such as Michigan’s Proposal 2.

(C) 2007 The Collegiate Times via U-WIRE





%d bloggers like this: