Students Outraged by Bush Attack
on Affirmative Action
United States Student Association
The United States Student Association (USSA), a national organization of college and university student governments representing millions of students, calls President Bush's decision to challenge the University of Michigan's affirmative action policy an attack on equality and fairness in higher education.
These remarks came in an announcement that the White House will file a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court arguing against the University of Michigan in Gratz v. Bollinger and Grutter v. Bollinger.
Although administration officials claim that the White House's legal brief will be narrowly tailored to denounce University of Michigan's affirmative action policies, many students see President Bush's statements as an attack on affirmative action and equal opportunity programs nationwide.
"In his address, President Bush declared that our institutions of higher education should reflect the racial and economic diversity of our country" said Jo'ie D. Taylor president of the United States Student Association, "Yet an admissions process that does not recognize racism as a barrier to college perpetuates racial discrimination and inequality."
According to President Bush, race-blind policies used in California, Florida and Texas has allowed colleges to attain broad racial diversity. However, students from those states say their universities are examples of the worst case scenario in terms of racial representation.
"These alternative plans are designed to hide the immediate effects of eliminating affirmative action" said Peter Tadao Gee, a University of California Berkeley student. "The percent plans (that President Bush refers to) rely on segregated schools and do little to address the long term effects or the problem of institutionalized racism in education." After affirmative action was eliminated in California, The enrollment of underrepresented students at the University of California plummeted.
According to USSA, President Bush also wrongly characterized University of Michigan's affirmative action policy as quotas.
"We do not have, and have never had, quotas or numerical targets in either the Undergraduate or Law School admissions program." University of Michigan President Mary Sue Colemam responded. She explained, like many institutions of higher education, University of Michigan takes race into account as one factor among many, including socioeconomic status and geographic origin.
"Race must be a factor in admissions because race is a factor in educational opportunity," says Nicholas Centino, USSA Student of Color Campus Diversity Director, "Universities with a serious commitment to equal opportunity must put substantial resources towards efforts to recruit and retain underrepresented students."
The United States Student Association is the nation's oldest and largest student association representing millions of students and is based in Washington, D.C.
Published in In Motion Magazine January 16, 2003.
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