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2B - The Michigan Daily - New Student Edition - Fall 2003

4

Diversity! Where?
HUSSAIN RAHIM N ACOLEPTIC INSOMNIA

I'm not really sur-
prised. There are a
few more people
against affirmative
action than for it, and
then there are a select
few who either don't
know, don't care or are
too scared to say. Then
we have one study that
says diversity as a result of affirmative
action is good and another that says it is
bad. When you hear about something
repeatedly,, no matter how germane the
topic, it gets boring. But it's here and pret-
ty soon it'll be all over, but I still have a
feeling of resignation towards it all.
The U.S. Supreme Court will soon
decide on the chimera of whether diversity
in higher education is a compelling state
interest. However noble that argument may
be, it is tantamount to a smokescreen
because diversity is not the goal here.
Diversity doesn't matter, it wasn't the pur-
pose of affirmative action nor should it
ever be. JFK didn't authorize affirmative
action in 1961 because he wanted a social
identity mixer.
Affirmative action, regardless of its
beneficiary, has always been about oppor-
tunity, availability and righting institution-
al discrimination. What is desired is a
solution to a problem that exists in our
society, this being that certain groups of
people are disproportionately excluded
from benefits and privileges that others
have unlimited access to. The way the Uni-
versity sees as best to rectify the disparity
between the opportunities of lower educa-
tion is to offer an admission policy where

certain social identities afford you benefits
in the process. It worked well enough for
women to bring them to a level of equality
in higher education where they no longer
need it.
Diversity, openness, inclusiveness are
all political terms to appease the Constitu-
tion wavers but they are not feasible goals
within a university setting. A few scattered
percentages of assorted minorities do not
constitute diversity. While there are those
that argue diversity may. provide inherent
educational benefits in a classroom and
university setting, I say these benefits are
only benevolent side effects. If diversity is
improperly recreated as the basis of affir-
mative action, - and it seems to have been
- when diversity is not found to be of
interest to the state, those who changed its
purpose must not be confused.
Diversity is a faulty goal because it has
no real definition or effect in the personal
realm. Since the implementation of affir-
mative action and the subsequent decades
of active pursuit of minorities in higher
education, college campuses appear more
diverse than ever, but that in no way is a
sign of actual connection of students
across racial identities. If you have the for-
tune of experiencing diversity in your
classroom, I guarantee it's not going much
further than that. Even in the classroom,
the effects are negative - and at best
intangible - because many times students
ba h n m +, ono«, o, :v '-

ing. The worst case being a campus where
the racial tension is palpable, and the stu-
dent population fragments into ethnic or
interest groups. This school is not too hard
to imagine.
At best there will be a class where the
material is purely empirical and personal
experiences will have no weight. In biolo-
gy it doesn't matter who you are, just as
long as you know how many cells are in an
electron (four I think). I doubt anyone has
walked into a class and said, "One, two,
uh, three black people, and a Latino!
Sweet dude, I'm staying in this discus-
sion!" Why is this? Because people don't
care. With the exception of maybe five
kids in East Quad, no one associates with
people too far from his comfort zone. The
way affirmative action is applied, diversity
brings in more minorities so that once they
are in school everyone can splinter off into
their respective groups and meet at class or
dance shows. Possibly it is the University's
responsibility to try to get students to
reach out, or maybe it is the students' duty.
I don't know.
I do know that the country is falling to the
right - made evident by Republican control
and that things do not look good. In the sum-
mer, when the white man, led by Clarence
Thomas, shuts down affirmative action (I'm
calling 5-4), the backlash will be immeasura-
ble. When the minority population disap-
pears, no one will even notice. The

Moment of truth

4

Supreme Court should rule in University's favor

"You do not take a person who for years has
been hobbled by chains and liberate him, bring
him to the starting line of the race and then say,
'You're free to compete with all the others,' and
still justly believe that you have been completely
fair. Thus, it is not enough just to open the gates
of opportunity. All our citizens must have the
ability to walk through those gates ... we seek
not just equality as a right and a theory but also
equality as a fact and equality as a result."
- President Lyndon Johnson delivering
the commencement speech at Howard Uni-
versity in 1965.
fter six years of legal wrangling and
heated debate, the University's affir-
mative action lawsuits have reached
their judicial terminus. Today, teams of attor-
neys for the University and the Center for
Individual Rights will have 30 minutes apiece
to make their oral arguments before the U.S.
Supreme Court. It is clear that it is the duty
of the court, in order to continue to repair the
nation's historic racial inequality, to uphold
the University's admissions policy.

can oecom
their entir
present ani
leaving lit
charging th
den to edu

VIEWPOINT
Court makes first step,'
BY STEPHEN MACGUIDWIN
Congratulations to the University of Michigan under-
graduate class of 2008! Though you do not yet even know
who you are, the U.S. Supreme Court has recently guaran-
teed you the right to equal treatment, regardless of your race.
It now falls on the shoulders of the key decisionmakers at the
University to make sure that the University's admissions
policies comply with the ruling of the court to stop discrimi-
nation on the basis of race. Such a policy will be easy to
implement for the University; there is already a rubric for
admittance in effect. The court was clear in its decision. The
20 points must go.
The racial imbalance that has plagued both the work-
force and higher education since the 1960s is not one for
the University to solve. Despite the noble efforts of the
University, a disparity between the races remains. How-
ever, the justices of the Supreme Court have recognized
that it is not the responsibility of higher education to
provide a remedy to problems that manifest before an
applicant even submits his application. We as a society
must work to supplement the education of those trapped
in underperforming school systems, regardless of the
students' races. The correct avenue to remedy the socie-
tal disparity is for the University to participate in
changes to elementary education and work to strengthen
the family. When we provide the youth of America with
a strong elementary education, universities will not need
to elevate the status of students to find qualified appli-
cants of all races. By the time that students are ready to
apply to college, a student's work ethic will have already
been established. Reinforced values and a high quality
education will benefit the youth of America much more
than a handout at the post-secondary level.
The court's decision in both cases ruled that diversity
is a compelling state interest for discrimination. There is
not an American that will argue that diversity promotes a
positive learning environment. However, diversity is more
than skin deep. The University must make a better effort
to explore the avenues of a colorblind admissions policy
and work to create diversity based on the experiences and
cultures of different individuals, rather than skin tone.
Being of a certain race does not qualify a person to all of
the characteristics or stereotypes that such race-based
policies seek to create.
Plans have been introduced within the last five years in
Texas, Florida and California to guarantee admission to stu-
dents in the top percentiles of their graduating classes. The
results of these experiments show that minority enrollment
has remained the same, and the advantage is that such diver-
sity is founded upon the principles of a united student body
bound by the common bonds of high academic achievement.
The advantage to these policies, besides having admissions
policies consistent with the 14th Amendment, is that they all
require state cooperation. Our governor, Jennifer Granholm,
has expressed herself to be a proponent of diversity, and
undoubtedly she should play an integral role in implement-
ing such a program. When implemented in the state of
Michigan, public education will be guaranteed to the most
promising and intelligent - paramount of the public educa-
tion model.
The court's decision also strives to break down stereo-
types created by race-based admissions. Under the current
system, the rationale is that diversity is achieved through

ne the sole representative for dichotomy between belief and reality will be ur nation's history of racial inequality
e identity, creating pressure to shown. Do you support diversity? Sure. But - both state sanctioned and de facto
idealized view to the class, and who do you hang out with? Indeed. - has stained nearly all aspects of
tle room for individualism and American political, economic and social life.
hem with the unnecessary bur- Rahim can be reached at In studying our history, it is apparent that the
cate when they should be learn- hrahim@umich.edu. mere acts of ending slavery and legal segre-
gation did not end the problems created by
inequality. In 1954, Brown v. Board of Educa-
tion ended legal school segregation. The Civil
Rights Act of 1964 reached further, guaran-
teeing that no American could legally be dis-
U must fOllOW throughiminated against because of her race or
Uhnicity. But the promise of integration held
outby these actions has not yet been
racial preferences because different races have different acsieved. Public schools remain highly segre-
experiences. However, these same methods that seektclas "g ed, as do residential patterns. Minorities
sify the socio-economic status of an applicant by ,ake, only are consistently paid less than their white
further perpetuate stereotypes assigned to different race, counterparts and receive worse educational
Experiences and true diversity istining. Much of this is a result of white
comprised of a combination of resistance and habit engendered over years of
different economic classes, overt discrimination. It is also the product of
geographical areas and politi- government's failure to enforce its own man-
cal affiliations. If we are to dates and ideals.
learn anything from the civil True remedies require constant reevalua-
rights era, it is that all men tion and reform and policies that challenge
are created equal. racism and encourage people of different
My generation backgrounds to live among one another.
believes in the Today, affirmative action is necessary
virtues of racial tol-
erance, cultural
sensitivity and/ .

because it continues moving society toward
that end.
resident Bush and his allies have twist-
ed legal language to label the Universi-
ty's policies as quotas in order to argue
that the University's brand of affirmative
action is unconstitutional. However, the
American Bar Association and the deans of
many of the country's best law schools have
publicly stated the contrary. A group of mili-
tary officers have called for the need for
affirmative action, citing that even though
minorities are far from underrepresented in
the armed forces, the high-ranking leadership
is for the most part white. Dozens of Fortune
500 companies filed amicus briefs in the
University's favor, realizing that diversity in
education is paramount for a dynamic society
and work force. Labor unions and many civil
rights organizations agree. An unlikely coali-
tion has been formed; the leaders in the
worlds of law, academia, the military, corpo-
rate America and labor present a clear and
convincing argument against the president's
dogmatic objection to the University's admis-
sions policies.
A ffirmative action's critics offer no
viable alternative. Bush touts Texas'
10-percent plan, sometimes known as
"affirmative access," under which the top 10
percent of the state's graduating class is guar-,
anteed admission to a state college. This plan,
however, has proven inadequate. One drastic
result has been underrepresented minorities
confined to under-funded institutions, while
the prestigious universities are often reserved
for those that benefited from a segregated
school system. Moreover, the plan depends on
public schools remaining highly segregated.
The phenomenon of racial segregation in
education is not restricted to one or a few
regions. Disproportionate funding of public
schools is an endemic reality that is starkly
obvious in Metro Detroit, and riddles urban
centers across the country. The result is an
underrepresented minority population in
higher education, cutting off black and Latino
communities from career opportunities.
Affirmative action benefits entire commu
nities because minorities are more likely
than other college graduates to return to and
become involved in their communities. The
court addressed thisas a compelling state
interest in Bakke v. Regents of the University
of California.
A ffirmative action exists solely
because there is a need for the pro-
gram. Shocking disparities still exist
between whites and blacks, the wealthy and
the poor. Affirmative action serves as a
mechanism that can help chip away at those
inequities, even as we continue to address
America's racial problem at its foundation.
Today, as the court hears the University's
oral arguments that center on the educational
benefits of diversity, we should also bear in
mind the words of Lyndon Johnson. A level
playing field is indeed an end worth fighting
for. But the years of racism and inequality
both of the institutional and personal nature
- ensure that many minorities enter that
playing field ill-equipped to compete with
their more privileged counterparts. The Uni-
versity's affirmative action policies directly
attack this unevenness by allowing underrep-
resented minorities access to the same bene-
fits and opportunities as the rest of society.
Affirmative action is not an end unto itself,
but it helps to ensure that the day will come
when it is not necessary.

4

an awareness
of different
beliefs: We
never experi-
enced white-
o n 1 y
restaurants or
segregated
washrooms. Myk
education was
the product of
teachers from all
different reli-
gions, sexes, ages
and races. I agree
with Justice
Antonin Scalia's
dissent in the Law
School case, in
that "cross racial
understanding ... is
a lesson of life rather
than law." I
believe that the
diverse public
education that I
received as a result of the civil rights movement has molded
the person that I am today and has molded my generation
into one of egalitarian beliefs. Students of the Law School do
not judge their classmates on the color of their skin, but
rather on the basis of their opinions. A "critical mass" of
minority opinions is not only desirable but necessary to fos-
ter debate among the University community. However, I do
not mean a minority opinion in the sense of the opinion of a
racial minority, but rather of one whose ideas differ from the
rest of the community. Such a system would create an intel-
lectual diversity rather than a physical diversity.
The University is a world leader not because of the racial
makeup of the incoming freshman class, but because of its
collective aspiration to greatness. I encourage the University
to strike the race category from each college's application.
Evaluate each applicant as a person, and by what they have
done, rather than by something so trivial as the color of their
skin. We're all Wolverines, and underneath our skin, we all
bleed maize and blue.

V ~Ji~;Pl

on

affirmative.
action,.
lawsuits

The triumph of the smug
ZAC PESKOWITZ THE LoWER REQUENCIES

"I am proud of the role of the Univer-
sity of Michigan in this important
debate."
- University President Mary
Sue Coleman in yesterday's e-mail
sent to all members of the Universi-
ty community.

Stephen MacGuidwin is the vice president o exter-
nal affairs of the College Republicans.

SAM BUTLER CLASSIC SOAPBOX

4 t f,£ '.u?.

***'"*."WASHINGTON -
sst. I have a secret for just you and me. Mary Sue
Coleman and the University never wanted the
Supreme Court to hear Grutter v. Bollinger and
Gratz v. Bollinger. Not that you would know that from the
strutting and preening that accompanied the court's land-
mark decision. An Associated Press photographer caught
Coleman bounding about the steps of the Supreme Court,
sporting a catfish grin and basking in the vibrant blue
skies of a perfect Washington morning.
The tropes most likely to appear in today's papers if
Coleman's publicists get their way: Coleman as a mod-
ern-day Moses, the University as the New Colossus and
Michigan as land of hope and glory.
All well and good, but Coleman's pose is an intellec-
tually dishonest one. Back in September, when the for-
mer president of the University of Iowa was just starting
her tenure in Ann Arbor, when Maureen Mahoney, legal
counsel brought in from Latham and Watkins, made the
surprise announcement that the University would not
seek to appeal its case to the nation's highest court. "We
will ask the court to deny the appeal and not to hear the
case," she blithely stated at a Sept. 18 University forum

supremes, but both parties' advances were rebuffed.
Academia was forced to size up the remaining field
of contenders and Grutter and Gratz were unanimously
viewed as the heavyweights with the best chances of
upholding affirmative action at the Supreme Court.
Georgia simply dropped its appeal and deferred to the
University. With the circuit courts reaching irreconcil-
able conclusions on the constitutionality of affirmative
action, the scene at the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals
became nothing more than pre-fight sparring before the
ultimate battle in Washington. If the University did not
appeal, then a good portion of the country (not to men-
tion that this portion, the South, is where the need for
affirmative action is even more acute than Michigan)
would have been left in limbo. Even as Coleman was
stating that "the whole country has a stake in these
cases," the University had somehow hypnotized itself
into believing that it could simply walk away from the
appeals process.
In the weeks that followed the announcement, Cole-
man and her comrades in the Fleming Administration
Building continued to support this policy - until the
court's Dec. 2 decision to grant certiorari made all this
moot. But the University still incomprehensibly clings to
the logic of its choice. When asked yesterday if the Uni-
versity had any regrets over this ill-conceived policy,
University spokeswoman Julie Peterson responded that it
continues to stand by its logic.
Yesterday was a proud day for the University. We were
vindicated. All those fancy law firms and all that hard
work. Students going sleepless nights riding on busses to
Detroit, Cincinnati and, eventually, Washington. It all

I

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