Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Washington UPDATE: House Education Panel Hears Affirmative Action Complaints

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Washington UPDATE: House Education Panel Hears Affirmative Action Complaints

Article excerpt

Washington UPDATE: House Education Panel Hears Affirmative Action. Complaints

by Charles Dervarics

The House of Representatives' education committee has opened debate on the future of affirmative action with Republican leaders calling for a review of existing programs, and witnesses claiming such policies are unfair to non-minorities at universities and in other settings.

A recent hearing included testimony from a university professor who criticized her former institution for hiring two new professors at salaries above those normally paid to new faculty.

"We must rethink affirmative action," said Rebecca Thacker, now a professor at Ohio University's college of business administration. Thacker talked of her experiences at another university, which she did not name, that set aside $500,000 to hire Black faculty even though the institution had "no history of intentional discrimination."

One individual hired with this money received a salary considerably higher than her own pay rate, Thacker said. When she questioned the move, the chair of the department said it would be an "insult" to pay the candidate at her salary, Thacker said. The professor added that many students of color she meets also want to be "considered on the basis of their qualifications" alone and said those students worry that their qualifications "will be secondary to their minority status."

However, long-time supporters of affirmative action defended programs at colleges, universities and in other employment situations, calling the policies essential to provide new opportunities for underrepresented groups. …

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