The University Record, January 14, 1998


Ticket decision questions faculty, staff integrity

The Athletic Department's midnight decision regarding Rose Bowl tickets for University faculty and staff [requiring ID for picking up] was a low blow. Nobody in the athletic administration building was talking nor answering telephones nor e-mail. I had planned to send my college sophomore son and his roommate to the game and have them stay with his aunt in Los Angeles, but the Athletic Department decided that the faculty and staff are not capable of making good judgements. I've been a 26-year employee and a 20-year season ticket-holder and during the past 10 years have had to give my tickets away or sell them at the faculty/staff rate due to conflict with my Boy Scout troop activities or military duty. Aren't these considered organizations with integrity for a staff member to belong to? I wonder if the politicians will have to show their I.D.? I suspect not, since they're considered to be holding positions of the highest integrity.

If the Athletic Department is so worried about scalping, why not set up 50 "will call" booths at the stadium every Saturday for the season ticket-holders to show proper I.D. What's the difference--Ohio State/Washington State/Notre Dame/Colorado? I couldn't help but notice, when leaving the ticket office on S. State Street and looking to my right, that the American flag in front of Schembechler Hall was at half staff. Must have been the Athletic Department mourning the loss of the integrity of the University's faculty and staff. How considerate.

David Kluck, food service manager, University Housing

Frank disclosure of admissions data needed for informed judgment

It ought to be axiomatic, but in these days it may be a mercy. In his letter defending University admissions by racial preference (Record, Dec. 10), Residential College Director Thomas E. Weisskopf allows that he "fully respect[s] the right of my RC colleague to criticize the University's affirmative action policies . . ." He is concerned to point out, though, that Prof. Cohen's views do not reflect RC policy.

How could they? Prof. Cohen's reverence for the rules of reasoning, logic, could hardly permit him to accord with the sort of sophistries apparently required to defend those policies and practices, sophistries culminating in a whopper like this from Prof. Weisskopf's letter: "Color-blind [i.e., non-discriminatory] admissions policies, far from being fair and just, actually discriminate against students of color."

Pace, Prof. Weisskopf, neither Prof. Cohen nor his friends will be neither "surprised nor upset" to discover that the average grades and test scores of admitted students of color are lower than the average for white students. What does surprise us is that an administrator is capable of making such a candid statement of fact; what has upset us is the lengths to which administration will go to avoid and conceal such facts and such statements. A frank disclosure of the magnitude of that discrepancy in averages together with other admissions data are what faculty and other community members need to make an informed judgment about what is fair and just.

Affirmative action is not under attack here; racial, discriminatory preferences are. The public at large is able to make that distinction consistently and healthily. But those who cling to a doomed and rightly abhorred policy seem determine to drag affirmative action down with it. Contrary to their insistence that preferences are the only possible means to affirmative action, their deliberate obfuscation, and their stunning and studied lack of moral imagination, one can easily conceive of several ways, some costly and some not, by which affirmative action could (at last!) be given a fair chance without the use of discriminatory preferences.

Leo F. McNamara, professor emeritus of English

U toes line of 'political correctness' in response to suit

I have thought that it was not necessary to experience the racial injustice of the Nazi-dominated countries in Europe to see that sorting out and stereotyping people by race is always wrong, but the various proclamations--published in The University Record and elsewhere--of righteousness and legality of doing precisely that make me wonder. How can it ever be defensible to claim that all members of a certain race deserve favorable consideration while all members of another race are undeserving of such consideration?

It cannot be defended on the grounds of ethic or fairness since not all minority members are socially and/or economically disadvantaged and not all non-minority members are free of being disadvantaged.

It also cannot be defended on the grounds of diversity since this is based on the highly questionable assumption that among Americans it is race and not socio-economic status that generates diversity of life experiences and views. And it cannot be defended on legal grounds since the language of the 1964 Civil Rights Act clearly prohibits discrimination in favor of one American against another American on the basis of race.

The fact of the matter is that affirmative action can be defended only on political grounds. Indeed Prof. Sandalow (Record, Dec. 10, 1997) makes this clear by pointing out that, according to the Supreme Court, racial classifications are legally possible only if they "are necessary to achieve a compelling governmental purpose"--and if a compelling governmental purpose is not a matter of politics I don't know what is!

Only the existence of a political purpose can explain the turn-around of governmental policy of President Kennedy, who in the early 1960s emphatically declared that race has no place in national life, to the policy of the 1980s and 1990s based on racial distinctions.

The position of the University in this matter is equally political, toeing the line of "political correctness" and keeping in step with the politicization of universities started with the student upheavals of the 1960s and 1970s.

Jan Kmenta, professor emeritus of economics