affirmative action

Giving students preferential treatment because of the color of their skin does not help minority college students – and in fact – it hurts them.

So says University of Michigan Professor Carl Cohen, who cannot be labeled as one of those token conservative scholars who speak out against affirmative action.

Cohen’s recently published bookA Conflict of Principles: The Battle over Affirmative Action at the University of Michigan” was profiled earlier this month in The Wall Street Journal, which noted the philosophy professor was “a liberal when he joined the Michigan faculty in 1955 (he is now 83).” ProfCohen

“Mr. Cohen stuck to his belief in colorblind law even as educators at his own campus and elsewhere abandoned it,” the Journal reported. “Early in his career, he joined the debate over preferences, arguing against them in various publications and at public events, though to this day he donates money to the NAACP and the ACLU, both ardent supporters of preferences.”

In A Conflict of Principles, Professor Cohen continues to grind against the grain in the world of academia by denouncing racial preferences for college admissions, this time with a special focus on his own employer, the University of Michigan, which has been embroiled in several high-profile affirmative action lawsuits.

The College Fix conducted the following interview with Professor Cohen on the subject:

What motivated you investigate affirmative action at the University of Michigan?

Cohen: The philosophical justification of democracy rests upon the conviction that all members of some community are equal. In a democracy any preference for a racial group is intolerable. I learned, in 1995, that my university, the University of Michigan — which I love – was apparently giving race preference in admissions. I felt obliged to get the details and to seek to change that practice.

What response did you expect to receive from your coworkers, administrators, or alumni, and how did this differ from the actual response you were given?

Cohen: Most students and faculty here believed, mistaken in my view, that admissions preference was an advantage for minorities. In fact, it is very damaging to blacks and CarlCohenother minorities when it is known that they have been preferred because of their race. But I knew that, since they believed preference was an advantage for minorities, my colleagues and students would for the most part disagree with me. And what I expected was in fact realized. They did. They still do. Disagreement here at the University of Michigan, however, was and remains courteous and civil, even when intense.

Do you feel that affirmative action is a well-intentioned but poorly executed program, or that it should be scrapped entirely and replaced?

Cohen: Affirmative action has many forms. It can be honorable and right. When it takes the form of outright preference, it is morally wrong and deeply unwise. If preference is what is meant by affirmative action, it should be scrapped entirely, for sure.

What system would you like to see for bolstering admission rates for minorities, if you feel a system is needed at all?

Cohen: To bolster admission rates we need to provide the education – especially early childhood education! That will enable minority applicants to succeed on their own merits.

Do you feel the University of Michigan administration treated you different after publishing your book?

Cohen: No, not at all. I have many friends among our administration; I respect and like them, even when I disagree with them. I think they respect me, as well.

If you could change just one thing about racial preferences in the college admissions process, what would it be?

Cohen: One thing to change about race preference, had I the power? Eliminate it.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Cohen: When admission preference is associated with skin color, the result is the strengthening of the ignorant stereotype that people having skins of that color are intellectually weak. This a canard, but it is reinforced by preference.

Preference in admission is a very bad thing for the minority preferred! It is also morally wrong, because it violates the fundamental principle that the races must be treated equally in a decent society.

College Fix reporter David Hookstead is a student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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IMAGE: Kijkwijzer

Misogyny is so pervasive on Canadian college campuses that men must be restrained from speaking first in class.

According to UNews, a management professor told a forum at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia that her classes practice “affirmative action” for female students:

“Men should not be allowed to monopolize these forums,” Saint Mary’s University management professor Judy Haiven said. …

Haiven suggested several ideas to combat misogyny, all of them centred on promoting female participation in events.

Her idea that women should always speak first in classroom discussions and at public events was brought up several times during the forum.

The problem is that “women generally don’t come forward and speak up at meetings,” Haiven said:

“We see that there has to be some kind of affirmative action so that women, I hope, take a more active role in the classroom, in running things, in various student affairs. We’ve got a real problem.”

Canada apparently has never heard of Sheryl Sandberg or “leaning in.” (Dalhousie, by the way, is the site of the Facebook “hate sex” suspension.)

But Haiven doesn’t go far enough, according to Jude Ashburn, a “non-binary trans person” who works for a Halifax “gender and sexual resource centre”:

“I think that women of colour should speak first in class,” Ashburn said after the panel discussion. …

“When I do activist circles or workshops, I often say, ‘OK, if you’re white and you look like me and you raise your hand, I’m not going to pick on you before someone of colour.’ So I do give little disclaimers, like people of colour will have priority, or if you’re a person with a disability, you’re pushed to the front … I mean, you know, bros fall back,” Ashburn said with a laugh.

Sounds a lot like the no-whites policy at some Ferguson die-in protests.

Read the UNews article.

h/t greg

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IMAGE: National Archives

Campus radicals shout list of demands, pledge to disrupt meetings until demands met

An aggressive pack of protesters recently stormed a University of Michigan Board of Regents meeting, repeatedly screamed chants to drown out the meeting, got in a physical altercation with security guards that included pushing and shoving, and ultimately forced campus leaders to quickly leave the room under protection of campus security.

The two dozen protesters – some students, some local activists – were led by members of the radical community-based group By Any Means Necessary, or BAMN, who had planned the protest publicly for weeks. Referring to the Black Action Movement that famously shut down the University of Michigan in the spring of 1970 as inspiration, BAMN’s efforts ultimately failed to shut down the campus but succeeded in taking over the meeting.

“We are holding the meeting today that is the real meeting, that is the meeting of the students,” lead organizer student Kate Stenvig declared as students and other attendees who came to witness the regent’s meeting began filing out of the room.

Their demands?

“Double Underrepresented Minority Student Enrollment.”

“Jail Killer Cops.”

“Make U of M a Sanctuary Campus – No Immigration & Customs Enforcement on Campus.”

“We’re going to keep shutting these meetings down and having our own meetings until these demands are met,” Stenvig said.

The Nov. 20 coup took place five minutes into the start of the board meeting, as the 20 or so protesters drowned out Ann Arbor Mayor Christopher Taylor’s remarks with well-rehearsed chants such as “we don’t need another committee, open it up to Detroit city” and “Minority enrollment’s been going down, open it up or we’ll shut it down.” At times they screamed the chants.

They marched toward the roped off regents’ area, leading to a physical altercation with security that prompted the regents to sneak out the back exit of the Michigan Union’s Anderson Room out of fear for their safety, administrators said at the time. A video taken by The College Fix shows pushing and shoving and other aggressive tactics between protesters and security.

Attendees expressed surprise at BAMN’s actions, many claiming they had never seen a regents meeting shut down in such a manner.

Emboldened by the recent conflict in Ferguson, BAMN has declared that now is the time to take action on their various grievances with the university.

“Ferguson, Missouri has made more than clear that our generation is not apathetic, and that there is boiling and growing anger, bitterness, and frustration in our youth, ready to be unleashed toward this rotten leadership,” said student Jose Alvarenga, a key organizer of the protest.

Another protester pitched in: “We can shut down this campus really quickly. Ferguson has taught us that.”

A central complaint of BAMN members is the perceived failure of the university to provide wholesale admissions access to Detroit students.

“We need action, and in particular, a Texas 10 percent plan for schools in Detroit,” said student organizer Liana Mulholland, referencing a program in Texas where all students who finish in the top 10 percent of their class are guaranteed admission to the state’s public universities.

Administrators have already explained that such a plan could only work in a state-wide university system, which Michigan currently does not have.

Yet one of the more vocal opponents of the perceived “resegregation” was Kevin Wolf, a Jewish freshman who wears a kippah and said he believes that the lack of minority enrollment in some way affects the Jewish community.

“All minorities are connected, all people want to express themselves, who have a rich culture, and don’t just want to blend into the bourgeoisie of America, should stand up, fight back, and declare that we have a right to this campus, and that this campus should be an open place for culture, dialogue, and freedom of expression,” he said.

BAMN shows no signs of stopping, verbally promising continued protests as their plan of action.

“It doesn’t take 40 years to increase minority enrollment, it doesn’t take a suit to increase minority enrollment; it takes shutting down this campus,” announced one African American protestor. It was unclear if he was a student.

“We earned a place in history not because we made the right speeches, or said the right things, but because we took the right actions,”  he added.

After reading their previously stated list of demands, BAMN representatives took a vote regarding whether to endorse them. They passed, unanimously.

On top of this, the university may find itself in legal trouble stemming from this incident, after choosing to conduct the rest of the regents meeting behind closed doors, a potential violation of the Open Meetings Act. President Schlissel has said he’ll refer the matter to legal counsel.

College Fix reporters Samantha Audia and Hunter Swogger co-authored this article.

VIDEO: Hunter Swogger, IMAGE: Samantha Audia

Students, community activists hold ‘public tribunal on hostile campus climate’ at University of Michigan

Disgruntled students at the University of Michigan have declared an alleged drop in minority enrollment a “national scandal” and representative of “the new Jim Crow,” and pledged in conjunction with community organizers at a recent strategy meeting on campus to “kick this university’s ass” and “shut the campus down” unless minority enrollment increases.

The comments were made by University of Michigan students as well as radical Ann Arbor-area activists with By Any Means Necessary, or BAMN, who were back on campus Friday night for what was dubbed a “public tribunal on hostile campus climate.”

The three-hour trial featured a parade of speakers who bemoaned a wide variety of grievances they claim are prevalent on campus, including racism, sexism, Islamaphobia, misogyny and more to a crowd of approximately 30 people, of which less than half were current University of Michigan students. In fact, children as young as 8 and adults as old as 55 were among the crowd.

BAMN and its cohorts already garnered national attention last year when its raucous campus protests and demands prompted administrators to fork over $650,000 for a Trotter Multicultural Center makeover and create campus campaigns to address alleged racism. But it’s clear they are not satisfied with those concessions, saying Friday they were half-measures and have ultimately changed nothing.

“Day in and day out we are forced to sit awkwardly in class because we are scared of what people might think of us,” said freshman Tala Taleb, who wears a Hijab, or headscarf. “I always feel like I have to be on my absolute best behavior to not portray Arabs in a negative light. I don’t feel comfortable knowing that I am being judged for everything I do.”

Taleb went on to call award-winning Professor Victor Lieberman, who teaches “History 244: The Arab Israeli Conflict,” a “Zionist” and suggested he discriminates against Muslim students.

Junior Austin Hamling claimed that “hate crimes against Muslin women (are) on the rise.” He did not address FBI crime stats which have found hate crimes against Muslims have stabilized following a spike in 2001, however.

BAMN organizers also circulated a petition titled “In Defense of the Rights of Muslim Women,” which stated in part “we unequivocally defend the right of Muslim women to freedom of religion and religious expression.” The petition did not state what specific actions would be taken to realize this goal, nor clarify the policies that would have to be enacted to ensure Muslim women are free from anti-Islamic bigotry.

Nevertheless, the petition was approved by all in attendance in a unanimous verbal vote.

Another topic they addressed was affirmative action. A long-standing demand of BAMN has been to have at least 10 percent of students enrolled at the University of Michigan be black, although more recently they have pushed for Michigan to adopt a program similar to the one in Texas, where all students who finish in the top 10 percent of their class are guaranteed admission to the state’s public universities.

To force administrators to move forward on this, they pledged to “occupy” the Nov. 20 Board of Regents meeting and impede campus operations.

“We are ready to shut down this campus at the Regents meeting if they cannot turn their wrongs into rights,” freshman Joseph Frailey declared.

A guest speaker who introduced himself as “Donovan” chose a more inflammatory approach: “We have power, and we can kick this university’s ass. This is our campus, and they better open it the f*** up, or we will shut it down.” It’s not clear if he is a student.

BAMN members repeatedly claimed Friday night that 3.7 percent of the fall 2014 freshman class at the University of Michigan is black – a figure they say is unacceptable and reflective of racist policies.

However, student Joseph Frailey in his speech to the crowd said: “I myself have never experienced racism on a personal level, but I’ve read numerous articles about racism occurring, and I’ve entertained the idea of this possibly happening to me.”

What’s more, it’s unclear where BAMN members get the 3.7 percent figure. Official university figures show that 250 out of 5,466 freshman students, or 4.57 percent, are black, according to calculations by The College Fix using figures provided on the university’s website.

In an interview with The College Fix after the meeting, Taleb was asked what specific measures she would like to see implemented on campus.

“I would really just like to change things up and finally defeat racism and sexism on campus,” she replied.

College Fix reporter Hunter Swogger is a student at the University of Michigan.

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IMAGE: YouTube screenshot

Writing in the University of Georgia’s The Red & Black, Katelyn Umholtz cannot seem to reconcile how Millennials can believe in a colorblind society … and also oppose affirmative action (my emphasis):

A survey conducted by MTV asked 3,000 Millennials ages 14 to 24 their thoughts on race-related issues, including affirmative action for college acceptance, in May. And what it found was seemingly paradoxical: 90 percent of Millennials surveyed “believe that everyone should be treated the same regardless of race,” yet 88 percent opposed affirmative action.

Thomas Greneker, a senior University of Georgia biology major from Valdosta, said it’s a “tricky debate” because diversity is so important. However, he said he does not think affirmative action is the fairest route to take when creating a diverse community.

“It’s not an equal approach in a push for equality,” Greneker said.

Seriously: why the phrase “seemingly paradoxical” and the word “yet” when comparing the belief in colorblindness to opposition to affirmative action?

Only those obsessed with diversity could see a contradiction between the two.

Read the full article here.

h/t to Discriminations.

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Research by George Mason University’s David Kravitz and colleagues reveals that, while “affirmative action policies in the workforce have increased diversity,” they’ve also had the effect of “stigmatizing the very workers the policies are designed to help.”

Kravitz and management professors Lisa Leslie of New York University and David Mayer of the University of Michigan built on previous studies that found that affirmative action recipients were viewed as less competent, which creates feelings of self-doubt for recipients.

To counteract this effect, organizations should emphasize the qualifications of new hires, the researchers said, and allow the staff to know them as a person—their interests, hobbies, and such. Companies also should reinforce the message that a stronger, more diverse team helps the whole organization succeed.

“When a person is a member of a group targeted by an affirmative action plan, anyone who believes affirmative action involves preferences may not know why they were hired,” Kravitz says. “Maybe they were hired because they’re great. Or maybe the corporation wants to hit a target. To eliminate stigmatization, make sure everyone knows that the affirmative action program does not involve preferences and highlight the competence and credentials of the new hires.”

Those hired through affirmative action programs also need to be reminded that they were selected for their qualifications and that others know of their qualifications.

Here’s a thought: If “everyone” (employees) need to be made aware that a new hire was brought on board because of his/her qualifications, then why not ditch affirmative action altogether?

The “stronger, more diverse team” mantra seems a lot like that used in education (and which the US Supreme Court unfortunately bought in the University of Michigan Grutter case) — that some mystical “critical mass” of minorities somehow makes the academic experience “better.” (The National Association of Scholars provides a brilliant rebuttal to this belief.)

Read the full article here.

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