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October 20, 1999 - Image 20

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1999-10-20

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8A - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, October 21, 1999

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The

silent

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opposition

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Drowned by the chants of activists taking

part in today's National Day of Action,

one

campus voice will not be heard. Prompted

by
Un

the presence of lawsuits challenging th
'iversity's use of race in the admissions

e

process, proponents of affirmative action
have emerged as a visible movement on

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p

campus,
action pr

while opponents of affirmative
ograms remain relatively silent.
doesn 't mean they don 't exist.

But that

BY ANNA CLARK DAILY STAFF REPORTER

In The Michigan Daily Student Survey, conducted
last spring, nearly 51 percent of respondents said
they disapproved of the use of race as a factor in
the admissions process. The survey - representing
87 percent of the student body - conducted by the
Daily in conjunction with the Department of
Communications Studies and the Institute for Social
Research, polled students about their views on affir-
mative action and University admissions policies.
LSA first-year student Douglas Tietz said he
opposes affirmative action and it is sometimes diffi-
cult to voice his views in an environment where affir-
mative action activists "paint an ugly picture of us.
"I have to admit, it can be fairly intimidating,"Tietz
said. "I'd defend my position if I were asked, but I
wouldn't be the first to speak out."
Tietz isn't the only student afraid to speak his
mind; LSA first-year stu-I
dent Melissa Stanley said
she also shields her opinions
from the scrutiny of the
public eye..
"If you are against (the:
University's admissions pol-
icy) people automatically
assume you're racist,' she
said. "That's not true at all. I
believe race should never be
an issue in admissions; how
can that be racist?" she
asked.
But Engineering sopho-
more Brad Mitchell said he
ignores possible backlash
when discussing affirmative
action.

"I know some people will
say I'm a bigot if 1 tell them
what I believe, but I don't
care what they think in the
least," he said.
The University's use of

race in admissions.
"I know professors who are adamantly against race
as a factor," he said. "But they are afraid to speak up
about their beliefs. They think that sometime down
the road it'll come back to them."
"For instance, if they vote against a professor for
tenure, and that professor happens to be a racial minor-
ity, they may be accused of being racist," he said.
University Residential College Prof. Carl Cohen
said the lack of open discussion on affirmative action
on campus doesn't necessarily extend to the
University faculty.
"1'm not anti-affirmative action; i'm anti-racial
preference," he said. "And my colleagues and I don't
always agree. But we respect each other and we listen
to each other. As a result, we understand each other."
Jaye said he commends Cohen for being a "strong
and reasonable voice
against the use of race"
in admissions.
"He's been very
courageous," Jaye said.
"He's always been one
of the original freedom
fighters, working for
civil rights since the
mid-1950s."
When the lawsuits
against the University
were first forming,
Cohen and Residential
College Director Tom
Weisskopf engaged in a
written debate, defend-
ing their opposing
views, in a series of let-
ters posted on the
FILE PHOTO Internet. The letters can
rnia regent Ward Connerly be viewed at the
action last year. The speech Residential College
March 1998 drew hundreds Website, at
d listeners.w sd
xr .e. isa. uniiec~.
Despite the gaping silence left by students in the
wake of activists such as Connerly and Jaye, there
are some students who refuse to shy away from the
issue.
College Republicans President Rory Diamond, an
LSA junior, said he never backs down from a chance
to voice his beliefs against affirmative action. He had
a chance to speak out recently when he joined six
other University students in an interview with the
television news magazine 60 Minutes, which is plan-
ning to highlight affirmative action views on campus
in an upcoming segment.
"I came to the University of Michigan to make a
difference," he said. "And 1 think I really am having
an impact.
Membership in the campus chapter of the College
Republicans is at its largest. "in a generation,"
Diamond said. According to The Michigan Daily
Student Survey, nearly 78 percent of those respon-
dents who identified their political views as conserv-
ative said they disapprove of using race in the admis-
sions process, while only 31 percent of self-identified
liberals disapprove of its use.
LSA sophomore Dustin Lee said many people
assume he is ignorant about affirmative action when
he voices objections to the University's admission
process.
"Everyone thinks that because I'm anti-affirmative
action, I'm uninformed. But that's ridiculous," Lee
said. "I understand what affirmative action is. I know

more than just racial
minorities are affected.
I've thought about the
issue, and I believe it's
wrong to give race so
much weight in admis-
sions."

FILE PHOTO
Students chant during a protest to support affirmative action in March 1998 as part of a rally
on the Diag, an act not often seen from the social policy's opponents on campus.

In response to a letter authored by Lee and pub-
lished in the Daily on Oct. 1 1, Lee said he was the
victim of several angry e-mails.
"People were telling me 'I'm so pissed ofat you' or
'You don't now what you're talking about,"' he said.
"One person told me this whole story about how she
was an example of the good things affirmative action
can do, but she kept using the wrong form of 'their."
From minor actions, such as angry e-mails, to
extremist events, such as rallies and marches, many
affirmative action supporters are "destroying the
opportunity for debate," Diamond said.
LSA junior Matt Schwartz said he believes the
University community lacks an arena for open debate
on affirmative action.
"There is a course at this University that teaches
why affirmative action is right. That class is totally
one-sided. How can we have open debate in a setting
like that?" he asked, referring to Center for
Afroamerican and African Studies 203: Issues in
Afro-American Development: Affirmative Action.
The class states its objective in the course description
as "to begin the process of cogent action and to devel-
op the language to articulate affirmative action as a
right and not a benefit."
Schwartz added that the 60 Minutes interview,
which will be featured in an upcoming show, was
the first time students from both sides of the issue
were given an opportunity to reasonably discuss
their views.
"We had to be forced to get together and really talk
about this," Schwartz said. "I doubt this sort of dis-
cussion happens often around campus."
Connerly cited an incident at UC-Berkeley that he
said demonstrated the damage extremist groups can
do to open discussion.
Berkeley's student paper, The Daily Californian,
"wrote an editorial against using race in admissions.

The day that particular issue of the paper was to be
released, 22,000 copies were stolen. A vehicle seen
driving away from the scene was identified as belong-
ing to a member of one of the extremists," Connerly
said.
Both Jaye and Connerly had advice for students
who feel intimidated to speak out for their belief
against using race in admissions.
"You need to suiimon you're inner strength,
because it's not easy," Connerly said. "Don't get
angry; instead be reasonable and use good will. And
it really depends on the sort of person you are. Either
you're an independent thinker willing to speak up or
you're not."
Jaye said that while no organized anti-affirmative
action groups exist at the University, there are still
ways students who oppose affirmative action can
make their presence known.
"Students can support the class action lawsuits, or
even get their parents or grandparents to help out," he
said. "Even a letter to the editor accomplishes some-
thing."
Diamond said that while there are many people on
campus who support the University's affirmative
action policy, the significant number who oppose it
need to become more visible.
"The fact is, more people here are opposed to the
University's affirmative action use than otherwise,"
he said. "However, because there's no organized
group, you don't hear from them in the same way you
hear from people like BAMN."
"Many people feel intimidated by pro-affirmative
action people. So they don't say anything. But they
still exist," he added.
For information on becoming involved in the class
action latwsuits contact the Center for /ndividual
Rights office at 202-833-840) or Jave sWeb:siie, at
4w'wjaye. org.

0

';

Former University of Caiifor
speaks against affirmative
at the Michigan League in
of protesters and intereste

race as a factor in the admission process is being
challenged by two lawsuits filed on behalf of three
white applicants by the Center for Individual Rights,
a Washington D.C.-based law firm.
In August, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals
allowed two groups of University students, including.
members of the Coalition to Defend Affirmative
Action By Any Means Necessary, to enter the two
lawsuits as defendants to argue in favor of the
University's use of race in its admissions policies,
University of California systems former Regent
Ward Connerly and Michigan Sen. David Jaye (R-
Washington Twp.), both national voices against the
use of race in college admissions, said the intimida-
tion of affirmative action opponents discourages
open discussion about related programs.
"There is no subject that arouses more fear on col-
lege campus than race," Connerly said. "People are
nervous to speak out on this issue."'
"It's as if college campuses want a diversity of
color but not a diversity of ideas:' he added,
Jaye said he believes he has been the target of such
crimes like tire slashing because of his outspoken
views on affirmative action.
"With all the graffiti, threats and incredible number
of shouting matches that have taken over college
campuses, it's no wonder that students are intimidat-
ed," Jaye said.
Connerly said that intimidation often extends to
college faculty members who are oppose the use of

"1 understand what affirmative
action is. I know mtore than just
rw- w - ss airw w-r - aNiaa ..N.Na -- wf*. ew a .E Fu -

Michigan Student Assembly President Bram Elias shakes hands with 60 Minutes correspondent Ed Bradley after he and
other students talked wIth Bradley earlier this month about affirmative action.

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