In Support of Affirmative Action

by Michael Armstrong Roche, Robyn Autry, Doug Charles, Mary Ann Clawson, Robert Conn, Christina Crosby, Ann duCille, Alex Dupuy, Courtney Fullilove, Daniella Gandolfo, Matthew Garrett, Annalise Glauz-Todrank, Christian Gonzales, Gillian Goslinga, Lori Gruen, Patricia Hill, Indira Karamcheti, J. Kehaulani Kauanui, Amelia Kiddle, Elizabeth McAlister, Elizabeth Milroy, Jill Morawski, Roy Pérez, Joel Pfister, Claire B. Potter, Mary-Jane Rubenstein, Anu Sharma, Richard Slotkin, Magda Teter, Elizabeth Traube, Gina Ulysse, Kari Weil, Margot Weiss and Leah Wright

In Support of Affirmative Action

We write in support of affirmative action as a legal policy with a specific history. On October 26th, the Cardinal Conservatives sponsored an “affirmative action bake sale” to protest affirmative action because it supposedly “perpetuates racism,” according to the group’s founder who was quoted in The Argus (“Political Bake Sal Sparks Debate,” Oct. 29, 2010). This claim is one of the most common responses to Affirmative Action.  As such, it is part of a broad political backlash that misrepresents the intent behind and the historical development of the policy.

The first federal articulation of Affirmative action came about through Presidential Executive Order 11246 in 1964, which made it the policy of the Government of the United States to provide equal opportunity in federal employment for all qualified persons, to prohibit discrimination in employment because of “race, creed, color, or national origin,” and “to promote the full realization of equal employment opportunity through a positive, continuing program in each executive department and agency.”

The purpose of the directive was to ameliorate nearly two centuries of exclusion of U.S. domestic racial minorities who had endured the legacies of genocide, settler colonialism, enslavement, and racial apartheid prior to the Voting Rights act of 1965. The second articulation was issued in Executive Order 11375 in 1976, which added sex to other prohibited forms of discrimination in the federal government in an effort to address the long legacy of gender discrimination.

The federal government subsequently passed several other laws prohibiting discrimination, including the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, which prohibits discrimination in terms and conditions of employment among persons between the ages of 40 and 65 (it was later amended to raise the protected age from 65 to 70); Title IX of The 1976 Higher Education Amendments, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex or blindness; The Vocational Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which requires employers to take affirmative action to recruit, hire, and advance in employment qualified handicapped individuals; The Vietnam Era Veterans Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974, which requires affirmative action for qualified disabled veterans and veterans from the Vietnam era; and The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, which provides disabled people access to employment, public service, transportation, and telecommunication.

It is our understanding that Wesleyan University is committed to equal opportunity and affirmative action in keeping with federal legislation and local laws that prohibit discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, and veteran status. Wesleyan, therefore, makes concerted efforts to recruit, employ, and promote qualified members of minority groups, women, handicapped individuals and disabled veterans, and Vietnam-era veterans who qualify for the positions for which they are being considered, as is the case for all other candidates who do not fall under the groups covered by the laws.

Additionally, and importantly, Wesleyan University has a stated commitment to prevent discrimination on the basis of marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression as part of a broader commitment to equal opportunity and to the promotion of a diverse campus and workforce. The University, therefore, has both an institutional responsibility to seek out the most talented people and a social obligation to further the goal of achieving equality of opportunity.

These institutional commitments have been misconstrued as a system of “racial preferences” (or worse, a “racial quota” system). We support open and honest discussion and debate about such matters, but we oppose as mere race baiting any and all efforts to scapegoat people of color among the students, faculty, staff, and administration on this campus and to undermine the University’s commitment to equal opportunity and diversity.

  • Alum

    Let the discussion begin by Wesleyan releasing the SAT scores of its students by race.

  • Another Alum

    I guess you missed the last sentence of the piece.

  • John A Silvi

    Just three articles to read prior to you proceeding:

    1) I Accept Noguera’s Challenge (Argus 2006)
    2) Rough Ride for Law School Accreditor (Inside Higher ED 2006)
    3) Fixing Law School Admissions (Argus 2008)

    The Bake sale at Wesleyan, has in every respect, done nothing more than reaffirm that the selection processes for Education at all levels must be announced with clearly defined goals for all institutions to accept.
    First: the playing field must be level !!
    GPA’s must be based on a 4.0 grading scale for High School
    Course work and books for each GPA must be then be accessed and assigned the new grade under the supervision of an administrator based on complexity, challenges and consistency.
    Once this is done with all high school GPA’s, Data release; assessment to begin.

    Opinions from the Courts (Since the release of Grutter)

    High School Seniors: Courts have expressed concern that no one is denied access to education. Name on the diploma is NOT a concern to the Courts. In-short, no University, student or administrator is qualified to state that one institution is better than another !! The Wesleyan Student body may or may not agree with this, but the courts are clearly articulating that their objective is to ensure access to education with proper funding.

    They do not care as to the Social Status or successful Football programs of Higher Ed Institutions.

    And as a parent, I concur. My concerns are that my son can do the work, I can pay for his college tuition and that upon graduation, he has employment.

    To consider: Law, MBA and Medical ADMISSIONS programs, should Wesleyan decide to include these policies for review and debate.

    Other notes to consider:

    Michigan: The MCRI initiative was upheld (The state Cannot factor race into the admissions Process). Judge David Lawson Fifth District Court (2006). Special hearing on Admissions Policy only !!

    Sally Mae (Student Loans) Now Bankrupt (Can no longer underwrite any new loans) 120 Billion dollars in uncollectable student loans (All platforms) lost !!

    California: California Supreme Court upheld the defeat of AA in Education 2010

    Arizona: Defeat of AA as just voted by its people

    Texas: 5th Circuit Court – Fisher vs. Regents at Univ of Texas. Undergrad’s Challenging the Top Ten percent Admissions Policy (Awaiting Opinion announcement) from the three panel judge.

    Law School Admissions: Case no# DJ 169-73-0 (April 5th 2005) Noguera’s Challenge (Issues as understood by the DOJ: Constitutional Representation within Community law, Tax Payers Support, employment upon graduation, Business success & opportunities, Pro-Bono Status, Use of Race).

    IMPASSE: Grutter 2003 (Race can be utilized as a factor for law school admissions. AA defeat within the various states, Race cannot be factored). 6th Circuit Court pending acceptance of oral arguments
    MCRI defeat vs. Grutter.

    My final Comment:
    Regardless of your outcome, Wesleyan University, to include the Argus paper, has advanced the foundation to allow people of all kinds from around the world, to openly discuss, review and acknowledge all 5 educational platforms and design a process by which everyone is understanding of the objectives without losing focus on our vision to the future.

    'Education must be available to all, affordable and with benefit upon graduation' !!

    Those blank blue prints for equality are now in good hands.....

  • To the first commenter...

    That'll never happen. No Liberal school has ever released the scores of its applicants based on race, because that'll just give the anti-AA more credibility.

    Right now, we are led to believe that AA only takes place when a white and a black student has similar credentials, which most non-liberals know is complete bull shit. Only the liberals fall for such bs, because liberals are conditioned to listen to authority, never to question it.

  • recent alum

    Nation-wide, Black and Latino students have lower average SAT scores than white students. Do you think that white students are smarter? This is a clear demonstration of the inequality of educational resources available to students in different racial groups. To ask the university to release average SAT scores by race in the manner of the first commenter is clear race-baiting, but also would be unproductive. People would just leap to conclusions without looking at the cultural bias that is involved in the SAT.

  • John C. Randolph

    Affirmative Action is nothing but racial discrimination under another name. The sad thing is that when JFK coined the term, he was directing federal agencies to "take affirmative action to ensure that RACE IS NOT A FACTOR" in hiring decisions.

    -jcr

  • Mike (alum)

    A recent alum said: "People would just leap to conclusions without looking at the cultural bias that is involved in the SAT."

    Actually, I'm glad you brought up culture. Until the value of education is brought into higher esteem among blacks and hispanics, cultural values will continue to handicap their students.

  • George

    "Nation-wide, Black and Latino students have lower average SAT scores than white students."

    That is because they are, in aggregate, far less prepared for higher education than whites and Asians, even when SES is controlled for.

    Note the word "prepared," by the way. That's not the same as saying that there is a difference in smarts.

  • Right...

    Oh wonderful... You'd give UNPREPARED students a seat in the most elite colleges in the nation just for their skin color? Such amazing and unparalleled logic. Again, what more could we have expected from the typical, emotional-libs.
    Regardless of the fact that blacks are intelligent or not IS NOT the problem. Why do you think half of the African-Americans at law school end up at the bottom tenth of their class?
    It's like harvard law accepting a medical school student even when the med school showed no signs that he is prepared for the law-material at harvard. He's smart, but NOT PREPARED for the course work.

    Instead, why don't you libs work to improve public education in the ghettos instead of handing out free As to every student? OH WAIT, you guys would never even consider doing that, because then you wouldn't have enough time in the classrooms to indoctrinate those young blacks, right?
    Scum bags.

  • Jf

    I'd like to point out two key problems with this article:

    1. The "historical background" does not accurately depict the history behind affirmative action. In fact, it misrepresents what is affirmative action. The reasoning behind it is incredibly racist. The concept is that some races do not value education as much as other races. Various Asain and European ethnic groups that have immigrated to the U.S. have similar backgrounds of discrimination but are not favored by affirmative action.
    2. The article never mentions positive results from affirmative action. That is because there are no proveable results. Affirmative action has not accomplished it's purpose.

    Look, I agree with the philosophy behind affirmative action. I think something needs to be done to right certain inequities in education, but I don't think affirmative action as it is now is the solution. Simply giving preference based on race or background is not working.

  • Stevie

    "Various Asain and European ethnic groups that have immigrated to the U.S. have similar backgrounds of discrimination but are not favored by affirmative action."

    Even if this is true, it doesn't matter as the U.S. only need worry about its own historically disadvantaged groups: African-American, (debatably) women, Natives and Hispanics.

    "That is because there are no proveable results."

    A burgeoning middle and rich black class?

    "Affirmative action has not accomplished it's purpose."

    The objective was to equal the playing field, and it has achieved some moderate success in doing that.

    "Simply giving preference based on race or background is not working."

    This just means we use other strategies whilst having affirmative action as well.

  • Hale Adams

    From the article:

    "It is our understanding that Wesleyan University is committed to equal opportunity and affirmative action in keeping with federal legislation and local laws that prohibit discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, and veteran status. Wesleyan, therefore, makes concerted efforts to recruit, employ, and promote qualified members of minority groups, women, handicapped individuals and disabled veterans, and Vietnam-era veterans who qualify for the positions for which they are being considered, as is the case for all other candidates who do not fall under the groups covered by the laws."

    Or the shorter version, paraphrasing George Orwell:

    All candidates are equal, but some are more equal than others.

    ******************
    Plus a parting shot, lifted from the National Review Online:

    "This [letter] isn’t a defense of affirmative action — it’s a series of PR platitudes holding hands."

    Hale Adams
    Pikesville, People's Democratic Republic of Maryland

  • Student

    Woo!! Go our profs for submitting this!

  • Stevie

    How short-sighted you are...

    Would you want an Asian or a European who can actually defend you in court, take care of you in the hospital, and make your ipod work properly, or would you rather want a group of African-American who can't do any of the 3 and only got to where they are because of their skin color?
    Half of the blacks end up at the bottom tenth of their law school class.
    70% of the blacks end up at the bottom tenth of their med school class. Did you hear about the incident when Harvard granted a black student a degree even though the student failed all the courses?

    This is not a problem about past discrimination. How is having your great, great, great- grandfather being a slave 300 years ago going to affect your academic performance today? It doesn't make any sense. Again, nothing the libs support make any sense.

    The best way to even out the playing field is if the libs actually improved schools in the ghettos so that students learn. That way, blacks can actually compete when they're in college.
    Another way is if the libs actually shut the fuck up for once and stop encouraging young blacks to become a pimp when he grows up.
    You libs are the problem, not the solution.

  • Crystal Clear

    Poor "Jf" doesn't seem to even know the history of Affirmative Action. It wasn't about education initially anyhow it was about employment. Perhaps you should read the Presidential Executive Orders cited in the professors' editorial and school yourself.

  • Crystal Clear

    @ Hale Adams - Do you advocate for the discrimination against qualified applicants for jobs or school admissions if they are of any particular race, gender, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, and veteran status?

  • Crystal Clear

    @ Stevie - why not troll somewhere else? Too juicy at The Argus, eh?

  • Alum '05

    The racism in these comments is horrific. Chill the f*ck out. A horde of unqualified, unintelligent students of color has not invaded Wesleyan. Affirmative action has given some highly capable candidates an opportunity they might not have otherwise had. Many white students are enamored with the fantasy that their parents' income, prominence, or alum status did not play a role in their own admission. Guess what--your skin color is a factor in admission decisions too, just not in the way that you think.

  • Marc M

    Kudos to all who penned this articles. I am sorry that the people who are quoting the courts and/or voicing seemingly racist decent didn't have the scores to get themselves into Williams, Yale, or Harvard. Check yourself before you wreck yourself.

  • alum OH FOUR

    To add a little context here: SAT scores show a slight correlation to students' first-year undergrad GPAs. After year one, that correlation disappears. The strongest and most consistent SAT score correlation is the correlation between SAT scores and family income, which remains strong even after controlling for all other factors (sex, "race", ethnicity, geography, etc).

    Additionally, there is clear evidence that certain individual SAT questions from 2009-2010 favor students of one race over students of another race, even when the students are equally skilled and academically prepared. The overall effect was that scores of black students were artificially low compared to white students with equal educational backgrounds and academic skills.

    You can read more about that here: http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2010/06/21/sat

  • Urban Exile

    The comments on this article are utterly shocking. Almost as shocking as the old guard character in my doctor's office this morning who is still (loudly) obsessed with President Clinton's sex life. @Stevie, you sound like you're from another era with your "the blacks" this and "the blacks" that! Do you imagine in our angry Republican white man world that we've solved inequality of opportunity in this country? Have you ever been to Trenton? To Newark? To Camden? To the Bronx?
    From where I'm sitting you've got some work to do, buddy.

  • George

    Alum 04, you are simply wrong. Higher SAT scores have a strong, positive association with likelihood of graduation. So do does level of math class completed in high school, avoiding developmental education, and the general rigor of coursework completed while in high school.

    All of these factors are significant, even when race, and SES are controlled for. These are completely uncontroversial statements among anyone conducting research in the field of student success in higher education.

  • Hale Adams

    Crystal Clear writes:

    "Do you advocate for the discrimination against qualified applicants for jobs or school admissions if they are of any particular race, gender, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, and veteran status?"

    Hardly. If one has a pool of equally qualified candidates for admission, then simply put all their names in a hat and pull out as many names as are needed to fill the slots. The racial and/or ethnic composition of the selected candidates is then a matter of random chance. Who can possibly object to that?

    Oh, but wait! It's simply and grossly UNFAIR that the outcome of such a random drawing of names could result in whites being represented in the incoming class in anything like the proportion of whites (or other "advantaged" group) in the general population! Therefore, we simply MUST rig the results in favor of minorites! What else could be fairer-- and what better preparation for real life!-- than to give these minorites all sorts of advantages?

    [/sarcasm]

    Crystal Clear, surely you've heard the expression, "the soft bigotry of low expectations"? How does it serve the best interests of a "disadvantaged" group, however defined, to give them advantages (and to get them accustomed to receiving such advantages) in the sheltered settings of academia? They will, of course, will receive no such advantages (and quite rightly so) when they go out into the real world and have to pull their own weight, just like the rest of us have to.

    That's the problem with affirmative action-- it merely sets its recipients up for *failure*, which is the last thing any of us wants.

  • in support of AA

    just want to let it be known that
    professor Kauanui
    aka professor K-nasty-nui droppin knowledge up in the american studies department
    is da bomb
    <3 her
     deuces

  • But we need SOME guys

    If admissions were based solely on numerical academic qualifications (GPA, SAT, etc.) there would be many fewer men at Wesleyan. But if a college like Wes lets its gender balance move too far away from 50:50, then the a lot of the top women and the top men stop applying. So the admissions office "adjusts" things when building the ideal entering class.

    So, white guys, shut your less qualified mouths and keep enjoying the all the hidden privileges that you have lived with so long you don't see them.

  • An Alum in support of affirmative action

    It's appalling that in 2010, we are still confronted with the same conservative opposition to actions that affirm racial/gender equality..

    It's appalling that in 2010, some people still believe that affirmative action benefits "the blacks" more than it benefits everyone else (even though countless studies demonstrate that women are the primary beneficiaries of affirmative action)

    And it's appalling that in 2010 people who have privilege can't stop to think: where did my privilege come from?

    to lighten things a bit, here is what a privilege denying person looks like to me..
     http://privilegedenyingdude.tumblr.com/page/3

  • Stevie

    @ But we need SOME guys

    Wesleyan IS A FINISHING SCHOOL. The students in this college are all a bunch of eco-nazi liberal facists who will end up serving fries at McDonald's once they graduate. I sure am glad I researched this and chose to attend Cornell rather than this garbage of a school.

    Look at all the colleges that specialize in science and math. Those are the colleges that really matter and are important to society, not some bull shit college teaching us that Communism works and Obama should act more like Mao ZeDong.

    Females are the ultimate beneficiaries of Affirmative Action, and that is because females don't want to admit their intellectual inferiority to males and the politically correct scientists who refuse to admit the truth for fear of research grant cuts.