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Cash, Connerly and the Travesty
of UC Admissions Criteria

Robert Fikes, Jr.
San Diego, California

It was May 25, 1997 when high school student David Cash failed to intercede when his best friend Jeremy Strohmeyer dragged 7-year-old Sherrice Iverson into a stall in the ladies' restroom at a Nevada casino and watched, without lifting a finger or raising a voice in protest, as Strohmeyer proceeded to brutally rape and strangle the Black girl. Several days later Cash was shown on television defiantly emerging from a limousine at the site of his school’s senior prom, an event from which he was barred. Already the young man was making a reputation for himself as a brash, remorseless, amoral sociopath with a clinging, twisted allegiance to Strohmeyer who pleaded guilty to murder and was sentenced to life in prison.

But the University of California (UC) at Berkeley found Mr. Cash acceptable and qualified, based on grade point average and SAT scores to enter triumphantly through Sather Gate. Being of good character apparently no longer factors into admissions criteria. Black and Hispanic kids who have proven their academic viability, with a record of community service and a determination to succeed and contribute to the betterment of their communities were denied so that David Cash, a young white male suburbanite seemingly without an ounce of human decency, could get a top rate education subsidized by the state of California. Not much was heard from Cash as he understandably avoided attention, that is until last summer when he appeared on a talk show and was interviewed by the Los Angeles Times. He was quoted in the newspaper as saying: “I’m not going to get upset over somebody's else’s life. I just worry about myself first. I’m not going to lose sleep over somebody's else’s problems.”

A question that comes to mind is whether or not UC Regent Ward Connerly, former Gov. Wilson’s point man in eliminating affirmative action in UC admissions, would defend this type of top-notch, academically well prepared white student for admission to the University of California? Never having seen a microphone or television camera he didn’t love, Connerly has been noticeably mum on this one. And what about that MLK quote he is so fond of reciting concerning the color of one’s skin versus the content of one’s character? We don’t hear him applying it in this case.

The ultimate objective of an agent of the state in crafting a sane and flexible admissions policy is to produce the best possible citizen-leader who uses his talents to enrich humanity. It has never been the intention of any university anywhere to educate and advance very bright but seriously flawed individuals whose ethics or psychological makeup would all but insure an unrewarding outcome, e.g., a person without conscience or feeling of obligation to others or one who is singularly obsessed with his warped desires and fantasies. Armed with higher education, such a person would become an even more dangerous menace to society. The world does not need any more “smart” people like Unabomber Theodore Kaczynski, convicted pedophile and Nobel laureate Daniel Gajdusek, The Turner Diaries racist author and physicist William Pierce, Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels, chainsaw murderer and professor Max Franc, multiple obscene phone caller and American University president Richard Berendzen, South African president and architect of apartheid Hendrik Verwoerd, or Auschwitz death camp physician Josef Mengele, all of whom were “smart enough” to earn doctorates in their chosen fields and would, hypothetically, easily have satisfied current UC admissions standards.

The few Berkeley students who know him on a personal basis describe Cash as being self-centered and somewhat of a “nerd” who does not socialize with others or have close friends. Last summer, as reported in the December issue of The Progressive, Cash boasted that "his new-found notoriety as Strohmeyer's pal has improved his ability to score with women. Does this sound like the kind of well-rounded, socially conscious and responsible student the taxpayers of California, including nearly 2 million or so African Americans, would rush to sponsor at any state-supported college or university? I don’t think so. And why did Cash decide to come out of his shell and go public with his views? Perhaps his self-imposed isolation at Berkeley was getting to him. In September, he appeared on a segment of CBS’s Sixty Minutes. Perhaps he finally began to feel the heat of criticism now that more people are aware that he’s at a UC campus. At the beginning of the school year, for example, the student government nearly passed a measure asking him to voluntarily leave the university. Oddly enough, the measure would have passed had not the student government president, Irami Osei-Frimpong, a Black male, vetoed it citing a legal technicality and declaring that what Cash really needed was a psychiatric exam.

The effort to have Cash and others like him brought to justice isn’t over. The murder of Iverson has prompted the U.S. Congress and several states to consider so-called Good Samaritan laws that would compel a person who views the commission of a crime to intervene and/or report the crime. One African American professor, Isabelle Gunning, who teaches at Southwestern University of Law has cited evidence that Cash did more than watch the murder, but she also allowed that the justice establishment was averse to prosecuting a young white male with a bright future attending an elite university. It was widely reported in late December that a preliminary investigation into Cash's role in the murder had begun and that federal prosecutors were using a federal grand jury in Las Vegas to take testimony from two friends of Cash.

Meanwhile, UC regent Connerly, emboldened by another anti-affirmative initiative success in Washington state last November, is taking his road show to Nebraska, Michigan, Florida and other distant locales stirring up more good citizens who have been lead to falsely assume that the majority of those undeserving “protected groups” and “preference holders” are black and brown, not white females, seniors and the disabled - - the chief beneficiaries of affirmative action. He will never address the issue of pathetic humans like David Cash (and possibly even Jeremy Strohmeyer) being given “preference” at a state-supported institution like the University of California. And that is a crime for which Connerly has yet to be made accountable.

About the author: Robert Fikes, Jr. is a librarian at San Diego State University and editor of the bi-monthly newsletter of the California Black Faculty and Staff Association.

Published in In Motion Magazine February 6, 1999.