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April 02, 2001 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2001-04-02

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4A - The Michigan Daily - Monday, April 2, 2001

ti .bz itgau 1aeil

daily. letters aumich.edu

Rejection and realization about race

SINCE 1890

Editor in Chief
Editorial Page Editors

-Unless otherwise noted, unsigned editorials reflect the opinion of the majority of the
Daily's editorial board. All other articles, letters and cartoons do not
necessarily reflect the opinion of The Michigan Daily-

W e regret to
inform you
\ that we will
be unable to offer you a.
seat in the Class of
Reading those words
four years ago today sent
me into a tailspin. For
months, it seemed, I wait-
ed to receive that letter, get in to Georgetown
University and begin the rest of my life.
Everyone I talked to said I was a sure bet.
"Of course you'll get in."
"It's a slam dunk."
"When are you moving to Washington?"
They even convinced me. I was so sure
that I had only applied to two other schools,
neither of which would matter, I believed.
When I got rejected, friends and family
immediately tried to comfort me, and it was
during this time that I had my first brush with
affirmative action. More than one person in
my suburban, homogeneous community told
me that I was a victim of race-based admis-
sions; that I lost "my place" at the school
because I was white.
And for a while, their arguments worked.
I blamed unknown minorities and mindless
administrators for my rejection, which is a
nice way to get over a problem. Just get mad.
I threw away all of my Georgetown material
(except the letter, which I still have), figured
the school wasn't worthy of me and set my
sights on Ann Arbor. I convinced myself that
the school would regret not allowing my in,
that my abilities would be missed on that

The trouble with this rationalization was
that it just wasn't true. It's possible that I a
student with lower test scores or fewer
extracurricular activities went to Georgetown
while I came to Michigan. But the trouble is
that SATs and after-school sports are not an
absolute measure of what I am as a person.
Neither is class rank, an essay I wrote or
where my parents went to college. They're
handy measuring sticks for certain aspects of
my - or anyone's - abilities and assets.
There's a reason that selective universi-
ties force applicants to submit a wide-array
or information for admissions counselors to
review. Taken as a whole, these universities
hope that they can get a complete idea of
who you are, what you've done and most
importantly, what you would bring to the
school if admitted.
A person's experiences - playing on the
football team, singing in the choir, working
as class president - are included on the
application, and as most high school juniors
know, it helps to have a lot of them. It shows
admissions counselors that you have a vast
amount of experience, which you can then
bring to campus. And no one questions their
use in the admissions process. Similarly, no
one questions the use of essays, legacy or
athletic ability in the process.
But at the same time, everyone seems to
want to talk about the use of race. People
who hate its use say there shouldn't be lower
standards for minorities. But the point they
miss is that it's not about lower standards.
The people who argue against race in admis-

sions believe test scores and GPAs tell the
story of a student, and no other factors are
Race is one factor that allows a university
to get a better understanding of who a student
is and what a student has to offer, much like
intelligence, athletic ability and experience
outside the classroom. All of these factors,
when taken together, give universities a
fighting chance at creating an environment
that fosters learning and gives students the
best possible college experience.
In the somewhat Utopian society that I
and many others hope for, universities would
search for students who can enrich the over-
all university experience. College would not
be a means to an end, rather an experience in
and of itself. College would be about learning
and debating and living - not gettinga@
degree, a high-paying job and out of town.
I didn't get in to Georgetown, and now
I'm OK with that. Maybe it was because I'Va
white. Maybe it was because I didn't act ita
school play. Maybe it was because I didx't
get a tenth of a point higher GPA.
I wasn't right for the atmosphere George-
town wanted to create, and the reason is
immaterial. The point is that the system is
fine. Creating a diverse experience - though
the use of a wide array of admissions criteria
and factors - may not be a compelling state
interest in the eyes of a Detroit judge, but it
sure makes sense to me.

Mike Spahn's column runs every other
Monday. Give himfeedackat
w.michigandaidy.com/forum or
via e-mail at mspahn@umich.edu.

'Regardless of whether or not law students
support the policy, everyone is standing
behind the Law School and the University.'
- First-year Law student David Singer last Tuesday on US. Judge Bernard
Friedman's ruling declaring the Law School's admissions policies unconstitutional.

Letter writer is not
an anarchist, is a
libertarian at best
Alex Bokov is not an anarchist ("Anar-
chist questions the mass civil rights move-
ment, 3/30/01). He calls himself one only
through a grave misunderstanding of the
term. His bitterness toward social activism
and his advocacy of "making deals" and
playing the game, makes him sound like at
best a libertarian, and at worst a Bush-style
Anarchism begins with the idea that all
people can exist as equals, peacefully and
happily without the intervention and coer-
cive power of government.
It is essentially a movement based on
love and on faith in the human spirit. Anar-
chists advocate a non-hierarchical society
in which people cooperate and practice
In the words of Errico Malatesta, the
great Italian anarchist writer, "We are all
egoists, we all seek our own satisfaction.
But the anarchist finds his greatest satisfac-
tion in struggling for the good of all, for
the achievement of a society in which he
can be a brother among brothers, and
among healthy, intelligent, educated and
happy people. But he who is adaptable,
who is satisfied to live among slaves and
draw profit from the labor of slaves, is not,
and cannot be, an anarchist."
The campus has traditionally been not
only a place where people "prepare for the
future," but where they can freely voice their
opinions and ideas and learn about new ones.
What better place to do that than where intel-
lectual resources and youthful energy are
most abundant? Whether you spend your
time preparing for your own future or trying
to change the world is your choice.
Bokov will be in a lab next year, either
terrorizing harmless animals or learning
how to create genetically altered food for
our children. Then he'll land a high-paying
job in the pharmaceutical industry, which
cares only about profit and nothing about
producing affordable drugs in developing
countries such as South Africa, where 90
percent of people with HIV do not have
access to modern pharmaceuticals.
But that's Bokov's choice. Luckily,


. ..................


there are others who choose to fight for
social justice and even some for anarchism.
University staff
Jackson 'is just
looking for stuff to
do these days'
I think it is outrageous that Rev. Jesse
Jackson uses his fame to influence the
United States. He flies in to a certain part
of the country that is experiencing racial
issues on a whim as the 'self-proclaimed
designated mediator' of issues he is not
even remotely involved in. What is he, the
national spokesman of justice?
Among Jackson's remarks was praise
for our university's multi-racial community
saying, "brother King would be proud." I
think brother King would be ashamed that
our university engages in the exact form of
race-based discrimination which he so

despised. Dr. King would be proud when
minority students composed their high per-:
centages in this university based solely
upon their own merit.
I think one of the best things about our
campus is the fact that it is a community in of
itself. Every year there are campus issues and
that are heated and talked about often, but
every year I have the peace of mind of know-
ing that those things will be resolved by the@
intelligent administration that we have and our
very own "First Amendment scholar" Univer-
sity President Lee Bollinger.
Feeling this way, I am internally insulted
when I'm walking through the Diag and see
an outside demonstrator such as Jackson
invading our campus. You know that the
moment Jackson heard the courts' answer to
the University Law School case that he saidtoe
himself, "This is a moment for me!" and made
plans to fly in here like Superman to save us.
Save us from what?
Jackson is a great person and a humani-
tarian, but it seems to me like he is just
looking for stuff to do these days.

Jewish students should support affirmative action

1 1~

At this time, when the very gains of the
Civil Rights movement, integration and years
of positive social change are being legally
threatened, no single group in the United
States should stand behind the University in its
use of affirmative action in admissions more
steadfastly than the Jewish community. I
would argue that it is our moral imperative.
Jewish tradition has always been particu-
larly sensitive to the plight of the stranger. A
long and unfortunate history of injustice and
prejudice has made qualified blacks, Latinos,
women, and other oppressed groups strangers
in society's mainstream. It is, fundamentally,
not right. As a people committed to the

with the Black community, dating back to the
Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, and
before. But as times changed, the relationship
changed too. As Jews became less persecuted,
more assimilated and more accepted within the
mainstream, blacks remained excluded their
path to opportunity blocked by institutional
racism and inequality in housing, education
and jobs. We became apathetic and content
with the status quo moving out of the urban
ghettos that we had once shared, into the sub-
urbs. Our partners in change, the other
oppressed minorities in our country, were left
out in the cold by us, and by society at large.
We now have a great and historic opportu-
nity. American Jews should applaud and iden-
tify with sincere efforts to rectify the ills and
injustices that have long been part of our

resentful of our community's neglect in the
recent past. After all, it was The Anti-Defama-
tion League, the American Jewish Committee
and the American Jewish Congress that all
filed briefs in support of Bakke, on the side of
a white medical student applicant who chal-
lenged the racial quota-based affirmative
action system at the University of California in.
1977. But, I beg, please give us a chance.
Despite a complicated history, nearly all
Jewish organizations in this country currently :0
support affirmative action programs that use
goals and timetables to measure whether
progress is being made towards eliminating .
discrimination. It is now the Jewish people, the ;
membership of these organizations and of the -
community at large that we need to implore to
open their minds, to think about the history of:

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