The University Record, April 2, 1996

SACUA, AAUP sponsor forum on affirmative action 

By Jared Blank

The U-M chapter of the American Association of University Professors and the Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs sponsored a March 26 forum on whether there is a need for affirmative action programs in higher education and the reprecussions of the recent Federal Appeals Court decision barring universities from using race as a factor in admissions.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit declared in Hopwood v. Texas that the use of race as a factor in admissions "treats minorities as a group rather than individuals" and "is no more rational on its own terms than would be choices based upon the physical size or blood type of applicants."

Rulings made by courts in the Fifth Circuit are law only in Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi.

Forum participants law Prof. Theodore St. Antoine and Eastern Michigan University management Prof. Denise Tanguay argued against the Hopwood ruling, while philosophy Prof. Carl Cohen supported the court.

Cohen, agreeing with the Hopwood decision, stated that "color, nationality and sex are not attributes which in themselves entitle anyone to any more or any less of the good things in life." He decried the use of timetables, contr act preferences, set asides and lower standards for admissions saying, "We cannot right the wrongs of times past by engaging now in the same invidious practices that engendered these wrongs."

St. Antoine conceded that affirmative action is not a panacea. "It is a powerful, maybe even dangerous measure. It has troublesome side effects, it is divisive, it can be demeaning."

"In the best of all worlds," St. Antoine said, "we would make all decisions totally on individual qualifications, but the reality of the world is different than the ideal. Affirmative action is necessary for the forseeable future."

He cited statistics showing that Black males earn only 69 percent of the salaries of their white counterparts: "hardly better than when the Civil Rights Act was passed." Blacks comprise, on average, only 2.1 percent of faculty at universities. He recalled the Law School in 1965 where he said that there were no Black students attending. "Do we want to go back to no Blacks or a handful of Blacks if affirmative action is eliminated?" he asked.

St. Antoine suggested that admissions committees should re-think some of the criteria for admissions. "We must ac cept the fact that in standardized tests, minorities are not performing on par with whites. But are minorities qualified to be lawyers? Absolutely," St. Antoine said.

"Being a Black person in 1996 is a qualification (in itself) to be a lawyer. They are needed out there. Can you imagine having to deal with issues of race without Blacks on the inside? Who cares if they are a few points behind on Law School tests?"

Hoyer argued that affirmative action is needed to combat years of what she called "white privilege."

"Merit," she said, "is the function of people being similar to ourselves." Because white men have been in power for so long, she argued, they choose people to join their organization who are similar to themselves other white men.

"Persistent stereotyping, fear of change and feelings that no minorities or women are good enough," she said, have kept women and minorities from achieving success. "Affirmative action for women and Blacks has the effect of ending what I'll call 'white male affirmative action.'" She suggested that race and gender should be used as a variable in co Clark, Warner named to Collegiate chairs

Clark, Warner named to Collegiate chairs

Noreen M. Clark and Kenneth E. Warner of the School of Public Health have been named to Collegiate Professorships.

Clark, professor of health behavior and health education and chair of the Department of Health Behavior and Health Education, will hold the Marshall H. Becker Collegiate Professorship of Public Health.

Warner, professor of public health policy and administration and chair of the Department of Public Health Policy and Administration, will hold the Richard D. Remington Collegiate Professorship of Public Health.

Their appointments, effective April 1, were approved by the Regents at their March meeting.

"Prof. Clark's research has been at the forefront of such important areas as the self-management of heart disease among the elderly, women's health, family care-giving for chronically ill patients, and educational interventions for 'high risk' urban children with asthma," Richard G. Cornell, interim dean of the School of Public Health, said. "Prof. Clark's record of academic scholarship in health behavior and health education is recogni [text is missing.]