UM’s affirmative action absurdity
The University of Michigan placed 950 maize and blue chairs on and around the Diag earlier this month to commemorate the nearly 1,000 minority students who weren’t able to attend the university.
That sounds very ominous, and I initially believed that the purpose of the project was to memorialize some sort of horrendous tragedy — perhaps, unbeknownst to virtually everyone on campus, hundreds and hundreds of students had been suddenly abducted, never to be seen again?
It turns out that the story is not nearly so tragic. The display is nothing more than yet another ostentatious example of progressive institutions’ propensity to signal their social justice efforts. It’s also a sad reminder that universities have chosen to abandon their core mission — to pursue the truth — and have opted instead to pursue diversity, equity and inclusion.
There were six other installations.
This one in particular, however, was seriously misguided for at least two reasons: the first has to do with the very thinly veiled contempt our nation’s progressive elites have for democracy, and the second has to do with the university’s hypocrisy regarding its own preference for how minorities should be treated and perceived.
Over a decade ago, in 2006, democracy had its day when 58 percent of the Michigan electorate voted to pass Proposal 2 which bars public institutions “from using affirmative action programs that give preferential treatment to groups or individuals based on their race, gender, color, ethnicity or national origin for public employment, education, or contracting purposes.”
So why litter the Diag with hundreds of chairs? Because the outcome — despite its being upheld by the Supreme Court in April 2014 — is a thorn in the side of our enlightened betters.
The university is hypocritical in its affection for the race-conscious system the undergraduate College of Literature, Science, and the Arts (LSA) used before the ruling issued by the Supreme Court in Gratz v. Bollinger in 2003, which ruled it unconstitutional.
LSA’s admissions process automatically awarded minority applicants 20 points: fully one-fifth of the points needed to guarantee admission.
The court in Gratz, citing a 1978 affirmative action case that held that the use of race was permissible as one of several admission criteria, writes that “the result of the automatic distribution of 20 points is that the University would never consider [minority] student A’s individual background, experiences, and characteristics to assess his individual ‘potential contribution to diversity.’ Instead, every applicant like [minority] student A would simply be admitted.”
In other words, even as the university sternly instructs its students not to treat minorities as a monolith — to recognize that they are all individuals, have their own unique “lived experiences,” and are not “representatives” of their race — it pines for the days when it could treat minorities as a monolith.
The university’s unconstitutional admissions policy is not equality before the law.
The university might think about that as it readies itself to welcome the Class of 2021 — and tries to recoup the cost of all those chairs.
Deion Kathawa is a senior at the University of Michigan and editor in chief of the Michigan Review, a student-run publication.