I would like to post a contrary view that is likely to be unpopular on this site. My
intent is not to be a troll, but to generate a serious discussion and exchange some different points of
view, even at the risk of getting flamed.
[This message was originally posted as a
“comment” to one of the items below. It deserves to be lifted out for fuller consideration. I am
replying to jblanton at the “Forums” section. See “reply to legacy” under “Texas A&M Today” and
“reply to affirmative action under “Philosophy of Affirmative Action”–gm] First of all, as an
alum of Texas A&M, I have two different perspectives on the legacy issue. As a father, I certainly like
the idea of my daughters getting an extra 4 points on a 100 point admissions scale. A&M is a great
school and is much more competitive now than it was when I attended, and it wasn’t that easy to get in
back then. And as a parent, you always want what is best for your kids. However, in the context of the
recent admissions changes which are supposed to make admissions based soley on merit, I understand the
need to eliminate the legacy benefit. President Gates has as well, and I support his decision to remove
it. My point is that people who like the idea of legacies getting a little extra help aren’t
necessarily doing it because they hope to keep a minority student from being admitted, just as a
supporter of affirmative action in admissions isn’t doing it with the main purpose of depriving a
white guy of getting admitted. From the soundbites I’ve seen on the news, some protesters seem to
think that the legacy policy was designed with a secret racist agenda to screw over minorities, and I
really don’t think that’s the case.
With regard to affirmative action, I think we need
to step back and look at the bigger picture. It is a fact that the student population of Texas A&M is
weighted towards whites relative to the ethnic makeup of the population of the state it serves. It is
also true that historically, minorities were not admitted, so there is a history of discrimination.
Finally, regardless of your point of view, I think most reasonable people would agree that diversity is
a good thing, especially at an institution of higher learning. In fact, it is a necessity IMHO for A&M
to continue to be a top-notch, world-class university, and Gates has acknowledged as
I see two questions from this. The first is: when have you reached the goal? The
second is: what is the best way to achieve it?
Gates didn’t come right out and state
what the racial breakdown should be for the student population, he just said that it’s not what it
should be and that A&M needs to increase the minority enrollment. I agree with that position. Take
Prarie View A&M for example. Prarie View A&M has traditionally been a mostly black college. I think it
would probably benefit them as well to diversify their student populace for the same reasons as I think
the College Station campus should. Diversity is a good thing. Does that mean Prarie View A&M needs to
establish an affirmative action program for non-blacks? I don’t think so. Should the student body
relect the overall state population’s ethnic makeup exactly? Again, I don’t think so. I still think
A&M (College Station) needs to continue to strive to increase minority enrollment, but like everything
else, it should be put in perspective.
So, let me address the second question: what is
the best way to increase minority enrollment? Affirmative action is one way of doing it, but is it the
best way? Although the U.S. Supreme Court decided that it is constitutional, race cannot be the primary
factor in admissions, nor are any kind of quotas allowed. Secondly, if you do use it, it is a very
controversial method, even if the intent is good. If you’re a white guy that doesn’t get admitted
while someone else with a slightly lower score does because they happened to get extra points due to
their race, it’s hard to view it as anything but reverse discrimination. It makes some people
resentful and others get unfairly labeled. I’m not a minority, but I imagine it would make me angry if
someone accused me of obtaining something not because of my hard work but the color of my
Gates has suggested special minority recruitment programs, which certainly is
certainly a good idea. But why do A&M (and other universities) have to recruit top minority students?
i.e., why aren’t there enough “good” minority students to go around so that you don’t have to make
such a special effort to recruit them?
I think the biggest civil rights issue isn’t
with A&M’s office of admissions, but rather the secondary education system. Secondary eduction in
Texas has traditionally been funded with local property taxes, and local property taxes vary widely
depending on the socioeconomic condition of the local populace. Minorities that were historically
discriminated against tend to be concentrated in poorer property districts, which in a lot of cases
means their kids go to crappy schools and get a crappy education, and then have trouble competing to
get in to A&M or UT or get a decent job. Seems like a vicious cycle to me. By ensuring that every Texas
kid gets an opportunity for a decent secondary education, we don’t have to fix the problem with a
controversial affirmative action program when that kid gets older and wants to compete for a slot at a
prestigious university or a decent job. The state legislature is supposedly supposed to take this issue
up in the near future. Maybe they can get it right this time.
Well, that’s it. I don’t
mean to be insensitive or rude, so if I’ve come across that way, I apologize. I am just trying to
start an open and honest discussion, and I’m open to listening to other points of view. Flame on. And