Prof. Carl Cohens letter (Record, June 19, 2000) has put forth several very cogent and relevant facts relating to the Universitys lawsuit on affirmative action/racial preferences currently pending in Federal Court. Apart from the value of Prof. Cohens contributions, which are significant, is the disturbing realization that the perspective he presents has been absent so far from the debate within the University.
Normally, one would expect some vigorous discussion on a matter so important to the future of the University as is this one. Of all our public institutions it is, or was, the university that possessed the knowledge, expertise and authority, as well as provided the forum, for wide ranging debate on virtually any issue. One wonders: why so much silence on this one? It seems almost inconceivable that complete uniformity of opinion exists within the University community on the matter of affirmative action/racial preferences. Prof. Cohen has presented a set of logical and coherent facts and a fresh perspective that deserves a great deal more internal debate.
Unless the University is able to confront issues such as this one forthrightly and openly through widespread, objective discussions, it risks failure in its responsibility to itself and the community. Prof. Cohen appears to have given a new perspective that needs further debate.
John A. Clark, professor emeritus of mechanical engineering