Question Of The Month

SATURDAY MAILBOX

January 25, 2003

Q: In December, the U.S. Supreme Court announced it would review two cases that challenge the University of Michigan's use of affirmative action.

Do you think the use of race-based preferences is appropriate in education? Or in other fields?

End unfair preferences

Affirmative action is discrimination.

At the university level, affirmative action has resulted in students being accepted and given scholarships because of their race, rather than their academic achievements.

There are only so many seats in a class and only so much money available for scholarships. Whenever a minority student is accepted because of affirmative action or awarded a scholarship, some other student is denied a seat and a scholarship.

This is a big country with great diversity and many minority groups. Affirmative action has been used to advance the cause of a few minority groups with political clout at the expense of everyone else.

At the very least, affirmative action should be terminated in state universities, and public funding for affirmative action programs in private universities should be terminated.

Gary J. Kaplowitz

Pikesville

As originally promulgated, affirmative action was a tool for achieving equal opportunity, not by preferring one person over another based on race but by making sure minorities had every opportunity to compete.

In practice, this meant widespread, targeted minority recruitment, but selection that was racially neutral.

But the moment affirmative action is used to justify racial preferences, it destroys equal opportunity and thus its own reason for existence.

I also believe that the tendency to use racial preferences in college admissions is rooted in the fact that too many minority students have been trapped in union-dominated, failing public schools.

The answer is not to discriminate against nonminority applicants for college but to give the parents of minority school children the means to choose the same quality primary and secondary schools other parents can choose.

John D. Schiavone

Kingsville

As someone who remembers the legal discrimination against women of the 1950s, I constantly applaud today's level playing field. So many professions are now open that were once closed to us.

However, if the Supreme Court validates the University of Michigan's race-based preferences, a new Pandora's Box of abuses will open. And whenever an individual is granted privilege based on sex, or race, another individual is relegated to second-class citizenship.

Race-based preferences are not appropriate in education or elsewhere.

I hope the Supreme Court will concur.

Rosalind Ellis

Baltimore

We do need to make sure everyone has every possible opportunity. But by choosing applicants based on their background, colleges are doing just what they should avoid.

Everyone should have equal opportunities, and race should have nothing to do with it.

Colleges need to base their selection process on the best candidate for their school.

Samantha Levy

Reisterstown

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was written to ensure "that no person in the United States shall, on the ground of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be otherwise subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance."

Since race-based preferences for one race automatically result in race-based discrimination against other races, it's obvious that these preferences are illegal.

If education institutions feel "diversity" is paramount, they should appeal to the Congress to modify the law.

Either we are a country of law, or else anyone is free to do anything he or she thinks is right.

Richard R. Tatlow

Marriottsville

We say we want to achieve a "color-blind" society in which people are "judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."

Yet we continue to count people by race (and gender and other categories) in the workplace, at the university, and almost everywhere else.

We gerrymander political districts, implement admission programs to favor one group over another and mandate that public service contracts be allocated to certain groups in certain percentages.

Why don't we call this practice "mandated-outcome action" instead?

Richard Grace

Baltimore

Racism is racism - period. Call it what you will, but "affirmative action" is no more than a code for the establishment of race-based preferences and, surreptitiously, racial quotas.

The use of racial preferences invariably denies placement to qualified students and ensures acceptance of unqualified ones. That process results in academic failure and, probably, a lessened sense of self-worth for students forced to fit into a learning environment well beyond their capabilities.

Why do we insist on doing this to our kids? Are we actually helping minority students? Not really. We're throwing them into human experiments designed by leftist social engineers.

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