Recently, a number of student organizations at Temple University have loudly voiced their anger over what they perceive to be a lack of diversity within the student body, faculty and staff. By employing protests in conjunction with acts of civil disobedience over the past month, students have made their cries heard.
There is a new proposal in the works that has, among other objectives, the intent of altering student demographics by increasing the black population by 10 percent, the Latino population by 7 percent and the Asian population by 5 percent by 2010.
Now, as an admittedly preppy white boy from the Long Island suburbs who has never had to face a day of prejudice in his life, it may be easy to denounce my opinion on the matter as one of ignorance. If that’s the case, then so be it. But I cannot sit by and bear witness to such an implausible, blatant agenda that will ultimately be punishing students like myself who could not help being born white.
Temple Student Government President Bryan Carter insisted last week that these percentages did not represent specific quotas. That analysis is correct if taken for face value, but the situation is hardly so black and white (no pun intended). Those percentages will be implemented within a fixed number, the student body, which is not expected to increase dramatically within the allotted time frame.
Consequently, the admissions department will now be forced to accept certain contingents of each minority group over the next six years in order to uphold the requisite percentages. Considering the percentages that have to be met over a specific time frame while working within the static quantity of incoming Temple students, you have now indirectly established a system of quotas.
These quotas are further exacerbated by the most absurd facet to this proposal – the all-encompassing goal of a campus devoid of an ethnic majority. It’s an ideal plan and in a perfect world, would be a wonderful accomplishment. But in the present day it is nothing more than a fool’s hope.
Even if we were to assume that the United States itself holds no ethnic majority, an idea that has been proposed in the past, constructing a collegiate student body under that same principle would be established of the false pretense that all ethnic groups currently reside upon equal economic footing.
There are other realities that need to be recognized in lieu of this proposal. When the national black population, for instance, hovers around 15 percent, social disadvantages aside, it’s simply not logical to have their total population be close the white population on campus. It’s a matter of practical odds, not race relations, that the majority ethnic group will have more qualified applicants than the minority ethnicity.
This is not to say that all minority applicants will be under-qualified – quite the opposite in fact. Yet in the same manner that it is wrong to place minorities at a disadvantage due to their background, it is immoral to do the same against whites by rejecting them for a potentially less deserving minority applicant on the basis of a quota.
This is not to say that I’m against affirmative action. Anybody who has read my column in the past can attribute to my fervent support of equal rights on all platforms, including affirmative action. It’s an important program that, when run effectively, allows an individual’s intellectual ability to be placed within the context of their school system, and not to be overshadowed by more wealthy whites with far better schooling, opportunities and connections.
But a line needs to be drawn when it begins to function as a free pass. Diversity is a great pillar upon which this nation was built. But it only functions positively when working in conjunction with assimilation – an integral mindset that can be neither forced nor cheapened.
In the very same way that it’s wrong to discriminate against minorities for their economic status and previous educational training, it’s immoral to discriminate against whites by rejecting them simply so that potentially less deserving minority applicants can be accepted to meet a quota.
Instead of promoting the acceptance of underqualified minority applicants without the academic skills to succeed in college, the admirable energy of these student organizations should be redirected to advocating improved school funding and educational reform. When high school seniors are accepted to Temple University, it should be based on their merit and not the color of their skin.
Noah Potvin can be reached at Redfloit5@hotmail.com.