Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Trick Words Hurt Affirmative Action

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Trick Words Hurt Affirmative Action

Article excerpt

The minority community in America is paying close attention to two cities these days. One city is Ann Arbor, Mich., home of the University of Michigan and the other is Washington, D.C., home of the U.S. Supreme Court. The University of Michigan has come under attack because it uses race in its admissions criteria. Their rationale is that by using race as one of several criteria, it increases chances of achieving a racially diverse student body. Of course, the naysayers are in a boil about the use of race. Never mind that legacy, geography and special abilities are other factors that are also used.

With regards to legacy, if a student's mom or dad went to Michigan then chances are that he/she stands a good chance of gaining admission. Legacy advantages are used at a number of colleges and universities across the country. If you follow the legacy trend, you will see that grades and test scores don't count as much. What counts more, is that mom or dad is an alumnus. Why isn't there much uproar about this admissions advantage? Isn't this affirmative action for moms and dads?

Many schools, like Michigan, use geography as another way of recruiting a diverse mix of students. Simply put, colleges and universities recruit from regions of the state that are underrepresented with students on their campus. So, if you are a talented student from Butter Pecan, Mich., and all things being equal, you will probably become a Wolverine. I don't hear many people debating the merits of admitting these students. Where are the moaners and com-plainers when you really need them? Let's simply call this geographical affirmative action.

Another admissions advantage that is being overlooked is in the area of special talents/abilities. I would say athletics, band and cheerleading, just to mention a few examples, would fall under this category. Once again, there is not much rancor when it comes to admitting these students. I have not read many articles about students bringing lawsuits against universities that bring in students with these special gifts. My personal view is that if students possess special skills and colleges want to give them an opportunity, then good for them. After all, one of the broad goals of affirmative action is to give more students an opportunity to get an education.

Opponents of affirmative action try to muddy the waters by using misleading words and phrases. One phrase I hear a lot these days is preferential treatment. Affirmative action and preferential treatment, to my mind, don't go together. Quite honestly, you can give anyone preferential treatment, but this term must be defined through the eyes of the giver. …

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