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April 20, 1999 - Image 10

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1999-04-20

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10 - The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, April 20, 1999
Students favor
diversity, dispute
ways to achieve it


Gerard Cohen-Vrignaud
Daily Staff Reporter
An overwhelming 86 percent of students said
diversity has positive affects on higher education,
but the same students were sharply divided on the
benefits of affirmative action at the University,
according to initial results of The Michigan Daily
Student Survey.
Forty-four percent of respondents said they dis-
agreed with the statement that "affirmative action
positively contributes to the quality of higher educa-
tion," while 38 percent agreed.
Echoing the results of the survey, LSA sophomore
Nicole McCarthy said that while diversity is impor-
tant, she does not believe affirmative action is the
best method to achieve its goals.
"It's very important in a college, especially for
students who come from a one-type-person kind of
city," McCarthy said. "I think that the people who
want to be helped by affirmative action end up being
Tfitby it."
Initial survey results - of a sample representing
87 percent of the student population - show that the
race of the respondents can affect their perceptions
of diversity at the University. Only 22 percent ofself-
identified white students compared to 50 percent
non-whites students - who identified themselves as
black, Asian or Latino/a - responded that the
University was "not diverse enough"
LSA junior Shaila Bhatt said the University is a

change from her hometown community.
"I grew up in an almost all-white environment,"
Bhatt said. "Now, I don't have the same stereotypes
as I did"
Thirty percent of respondents who identified
themselves as liberals said yes when asked whether
they thought affirmative action had achieved the
goal of providing equal opportunities for women or
minorities, while 61 percent of conservative students
said yes.
Students' response to the question of whether
underrepresented minorities added to diversity at the
University varied based on their political affiliations,
race and gender.
About 58 percent of self-identified liberal respon-
dents said members of underrepresented races con-
tribute "a lot" to diversity while only 30 percent of
conservative students believed the same.
Only 43 percent of white respondents said under-
represented race adds "a lot" to diversity compared
with 61 percent of non-white respondents.
LSA first-year student Geoffrey Stanton said a
person's race should not matter as much as their per-
sonality when it comes to evaluating their impact on
the campus' diversity.
"Diversity does not exist on the level of the skin,
but rather on the level of personalities," Stanton said.
"There's more to someone's diversity than their gen-
der or skin."
Significant differences in response also appeared

Continued from Page-
Because the plan takes top per-
centages from all of the states high
schools, Garza said the plan utilizes
geography to ensure diversity. ~
"High schools are segregatd,
because that is usually how it breaks
down in the communities," Garza
said. "The top 10 percent of students
at each of those schools are taken~
across the board." 0
Garza said the top 10 percent law
has equalized aspects of the admis-
sions process more than previous
admission strategies.
"It is more fair because it doesn't
include SAT tests, which some stu-
dents have historically had problems
with," he said.
But some Texas students said they
don't think the plan is enough.
Victor Quintanilla, a senior a
Texas, said the plan is a small step iio
the right direction.
"I don't think it's the perfect med-
icine, it's a Band-Aid," Quintanilla
said, explaining that he does not
believe the plan has had a substantial
effect in diversifying the student
body yet.
University of California at Berkeley
spokesperson Jesus Mena said the 4
percent plan will help those fro
schools who may not have the com-
puters or advanced placement classes
other students have.
"If students are from a rural school
where there might not be as much
fiscal backing, this compensates for
it," Mena said.
The 4 percent plan is expected to
be implemented for applicants in the
incoming class of 2001.

LSA sophomore Jungsam Sohn and !SA first-year student Jessica Shim eat dinner at West Quad dining
hall last night, where many students say people segregate into ethnically based groups during meals.

in survey results between male and female students.
Only 37 percent of males respondents said diver-
sity contributed "a lot" to a better college experience
compared with 55 percent of females.
LSA first-year student Matthew Burt said diversi-
ty helped improve the learning experience at the
"I think it's important to have people of all dif-
ferent backgrounds in the classroom;' Burt said.
"It makes for a better learning environment"
Political affiliation also appears to affect the per-
ception of the influence of diversity on the college
experience. Almost 62 percent of respondents who
identified themselves as liberals said diversity
improves the college experience "a lot" while less
than 25 percent of conservatives said the same.

Politics, gender and race also affected the view of
diversity's benefits in the classroom.
Only 35 percent of white respondents thought diversi-
ty improved their classroom experience "a lot" while 60
percent of non-white students thought so.
About 51 percent of females gave the same
answer, compared to 30 percent of males, while 56
percent of liberals said classroom experience was
improved "a lot" compared to less than 23 percent of
conservative students.
Regardless of the benefits in the classroom, many
students said diversity eluded most people in their
social lives.
"When it comes to the classroom, it's diverse,"
Bhatt said. "But when it come to who people hang
out with socially, it's very segregated"


Survey: many think affirmative

action gives some unfair advantage

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By Nick Bunkley
Daily Staff Reporter
A majority of University students
tend to believe affirmative action hiring
programs may result in less qualified
job candidates gaining an edge because
of their minority status, according to
initial results of The Michigan Daily
Student Survey.
Overall, 70 percent of students who
responded to the survey - a sample
representing 87 percent of the student
population - said employers "some-
times" or "often" hire or promote
unqualified minorities because of affir-
mative action policies.
Respondents who identified them-

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selves as white were nearly twice as
likely as non-white students - respon-
dents who identified themselves as
Asian, black or Latino/a - to say that
employers often use ethnicity as a fac-
tor in hiring ahead of skill level.
LSA junior Monica Mikucki said
she's aware that affirmative action is
often represented that way.
"A lot of people tend to believe that
affirmative action puts unqualified
minorities in positions they shouldn't
be in," Mikucki said. "Affirmative
action only looks at the qualified
Sue Rasmussen, the director of the
University's affirmative action pro-
grams, also said many people have illu-
sions about affirmative action.
"There is a tremendous amount of
misinformation out there;" Rasmussen
said, referring to the idea that compa-
nies have policies such as minority hir-
ing quotas.
"They're not a good kind of affirma-
tive action, and they're not the types of
practices that we use at the University,"
she said.
Because the University receives
substantial federal funds, its hiring
practices are subject to Executive
Order 11246, which requires the
University to utilize affirmative action
policies when hiring faculty and staff

The law stipulates that the University
must at least make "good-faith efforts"
to hire women and minorities.
"The University must examine its
workforce and compare it to the outside
labor market;" Rasmussen said. "We set
different availabilities for faculty based
on what department they're in;' she
"We try to come up with percentages
that reflect the number of women and
minorities available."
Denise Bolar, a campus recruiter for
computer giant IBM, said the company
makes "a concerted effort" to hire
minority employees but does not have
any required quotas.
"IBM wants to ensure that it has a
diverse workforce," Bolar said. "It's not
as if anyone is telling us you have to
hire so many women, so many people
of color."
IBM is committed to hiring the most
qualified employees, Bolar said, but the
company may choose a minority over
another equally-skilled candidate.
Hiring candidates for reasons not
related to their work ability would
diminish employees' value, Bolar said.
"I would like to think that I'm quali-
fied for it, not that it's because I fit into
a certain ethnic category," said Bolar,
who is black.
Like IBM, the University places
more importance on job qualifications


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than ethnicity or gender when hiring
employees, Rasmussen said.
"The goal does not mean you: go
out and hire the first women or
minority," she said, adding that oily
when two individuals are equally
skilled could ethnicity be a decision,
Law first-year student Eric Reed sai4
he would have no problem being passed
over for an equally-skilled minori y
"I don't have any problem giving a
historically underrepresented candidate
an edge;' Reed said.
LSA sophomore Pete Cullen said it's
important to distinguish between
"unqualified" and "less qualified" job
"If someone's getting hired they can
probably do the job," Cullen said.
When goals are not being met,
Rasmussen said the University advertises
in markets that would tend to attrac
minority candidates.
Each year the University has about
10,000 open positions per year, most of
which are for non-instructional employ-
ees, she added.
LSA senior Fayeannette Pierce said 4
mix of ethnicities and genders can only
help a work environment.
"A diverse workplace would be more
beneficial than an all-white, all-black;
or all-anything workplace," Pierce said;


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