Tuesday, November 04, 1997

Affirmative action inspires lively debate

Affirmative action inspires lively debate
The Chicago Maroon
By Pamela Appea
The U of C Republicans and the U of C Democrats co-sponsored a debate on affirmative action Wednesday afternoon in the Social Sciences building.

The members of the panel debated whether affirmative action should remain a factor in the admissions policies of universities nationwide and minority recruiting at the U of C.

The four-person panel consisted of Justin Jones, a third-year student in college, Geogg Fischer, a second-year student and Douglass Cook, a first-year student. Kurt Dudas, a fourth-year student, moderated the 40-minute event.

The speakers presented their arguments for or against affirmative action in two, three, or five minute constructive and rebuttals following official debate style.

According to Jones, once a student enrolls at the University, they must rise up to a certain standard. If the workload proves to be too difficult, then the individual can transfer to be too difficult, then the individual can transfer to another institution or take some time off.

Jones pointed out that during their first year, many students of all races must decide whether the University environment is appropriate for them.

The U of C Republicans stated that affirmative action was a “form of racism in order to combat racism” and is totally ineffective for addressing the “racial wounds” and “racial inequality” in U.S. society.
Young argued that SAT scores and grades need to be taken into account first. He went on to say that, if anything, the socio-economic background of the student, not the race, should be taken into account during the University application process.
“Blacks and whites are equal intellectually. Therefore, if you take into account background, raece need not to be taken into account,” said Previn Makodi, a third-year student in the College who attended the event.
According to Ted O’Neil, dean of College admissions, the University of Chicago has no set racial or cultural quota policy when student applications are considered. But O’Neill believes that a “racially divisive” university is desirable, and the Admissions Office actively attempts to recruit African-American and Latino students.
Students enjoyed the debate and the question and answer sessions that followed. Some felt that the U of C Republicans did not speak as well as they could have, nor did they effectively field the questions from the audience.
“The Republicans didn’t justify why affirmative action has not been a positive influence in America. They never really proposed an alternative,” said Nia Stokes, a first-year student in the College.
“It wasn’t our strongest debate. However, we look forward to future debates. We think we have the winning arguments and hope to even the score. The debates are a good forum to get students involved in addressing important issues in today’s society,” said John Roland, president of the college Republicans and a third-year student in the College.
“The Democrats brought up the issue of merit, and once you get into a job or a school you have to work on the same level as everyone,” said Dequiana Brooks, a first-year student in the college, who agreed with the U of C Democrats’ argument.

“Here, people won’t say you didn’t do your homework or problem set, but because you’re black that’s okay. Everyone has to work very hard,” she said.

The debate was originally planned in conjunction with the visit of Ward Connerl, the main proponent of Proposition 209, California’s anti-affirmative action legislation, who spoke at the Law School last week.

Originally published November 4, 1997