The University Record, February 14, 2000

Letters

The University Record welcomes letters from members of the University community. Those on topics of broad University interest will be given preference for publication. Letters should be no more than 500 words in length and must be signed. The editorial staff reserves the right to reject any letter and to edit and/or condense letters for publication. The editorial staff also may limit the numbers of weeks letters may be published on one issue, and the number of times any one person’s viewpoint on a single issue will be published. Letters may appear in small type. Organizations submitting material must include the name and address of an appropriate officer. Letters must be received by noon Wednesday to receive consideration for publication in the next issue.


Pierpont helped struggling ICC

I was saddened to read of Wilbur K. Pierpont’s death in the Jan. 25 issue of the Ann Arbor News. During my 34 years as the executive secretary of the nonprofit Inter-Cooperative Council (ICC) at the University of Michigan, I found him very sympathetic to the council’s goal to provide low-cost room and board to needy students. In the early ’60s, in his position as vice president and chief financial officer of the U-M, Dr. Pierpont was supportive of the ICC’s purchase of land on North Campus to construct the North Campus Cooperatives to house and feed 200 students. He influenced U-M officials to approve the project. He helped convince Washington, D.C., Housing and Urban Development to provide the $2 million loan from the College Housing Program.

On another occasion, unbeknownst to me, the U-M Student Government Council (SGC) became concerned that the ICC didn’t deserve free space in the Michigan Union. They sent the Student Government Council president to visit Dr. Pierpont to ask that we be evicted because we owned about 15 houses in Ann Arbor and had a large yearly income from rentals. Several years later I was surprised when the same SGC president came to my office and confessed what he had done, saying that he concluded from his visit to Dr. Pierpont that “the ICC was untouchable.” He said that in response to his request to move the ICC from the Michigan Union, Wilbur K. Pierpont had firmly replied, “Young man, the Inter-Cooperative Council is the only student organization that gives a hang about helping poor students!”

Three years ago, much to my disappointment, the ICC was asked to vacate their third-floor office space at the Michigan Union. In the next breath, I must express the ICC’s deep gratitude to the U-M for helping the struggling ICC to launch a successful nonprofit student cooperative housing program at the University of Michigan by providing us with free office space for over 45 years.

Luther Buchele, ICC executive secretary emeritus


‘Stereotype threat’ a reason not to consider race in admissions

Steele and Aronson (1995) found that the performance of African American students on test items was adversely affected when they were asked about their ethnicity. In her recent Rackham presentation on race relations (“Schools must continue to use race as admissions factor, speakers say,” Record, Jan. 31), Prof. Shana Levin relied upon this notion of “stereotype threat” to conclude (as correctly reported in the Record) “that when African American students are tested in an environment in which they think their race is not an issue, they do far better on the same test than if they think their race is taken into account.”

This claim is contested by Stricker (1998) whose more extended inquiry yielded the “clear and consistent” finding that there was a “general absence of effects, negative or positive, of inquiring about ethnicity and sex.”

But suppose that Stricker is wrong and that Prof. Levin, relying upon Steele and Aronson, is proved right in the end. One inference strongly suggested by such results is that race-conscious admissions programs, like those adopted by our University, tend to promote precisely what Steele and Aronson feared: performance disrupted by students’ concerns about fulfilling negative stereotypes. “Stereotype threat,” if it is a concept to be taken seriously, gives good reason not to take race into account.

Carl Cohen, professor of philosophy