The University Record, July 3, 2000


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 an 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.

Cohen’s letter provides new perspective

Prof. Carl Cohen’s letter (Record, June 19, 2000) has put forth several very cogent and relevant facts relating to the University’s lawsuit on affirmative action/racial preferences currently pending in Federal Court. Apart from the value of Prof. Cohen’s 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