Affirmative Action and Radical Politics
Affirmative action radicalizes minority students whose achievements become suspect.
March 22, 2012 - 12:00 am
Perhaps if he hadn’t been so quick to push them through, to write what they should have been writing, they would have written their own dissertations. After all, social science is not rocket science. Writing a dissertation in the social sciences is more about perspiration than inspiration.
The real racists are not the professors who quit such committees or voice objections to them, but those who create a normative structure that begins with the assumption that black students can’t do their own work
In this kind of corrupt environment, everyone assumes that even the black student who is writing his own dissertation is somehow getting a leg up from the faculty. Corrupting some of the process destroys the integrity of all of the process.
Once word gets out that black students are having their dissertations written, other students turn in lower quality work. In a confrontation with committee members, one doctoral candidate who was turning in dissertation chapters way below her ability finally said, “Can you guarantee that my degree will be worth more than his (a reference to a student whose dissertation was being heavily edited)?”
Once the standards are lowered for some, they are indirectly lowered for all. Is it fair to ask some to work to the limits of their abilities and others to work to a level that is deemed acceptable for the color of their skin?
Who benefits from this process? Certainly not the black students. The good ones are tarred with the brush of favoritism. The bad ones are set on a course that almost guarantees failure in the profession. The people who benefit are the faculty and administrators who got their boxes checked off, and the people from Washington who got paid to fly out to assess the progress universities were making toward their cultural audits.
Ask yourself this: if you could imagine yourself black for one minute and lived through this process, would it not radicalize you? Would you not seek to embrace a different cultural reality, one that did not define you as incompetent?
The Supreme Court is going to hear, this term, the case of Fisher v. University of Texas. Ms. Fisher, a white student, alleges she was discriminated against in the admissions process because of her race. Previously, the court had ruled that race could be considered as part of the admissions process because diversity contributes positively to the educational experience. If Ms. Fisher wins her lawsuit, affirmative action might be once and for all struck down.
Anyone who has taught a class or just sat in on one knows that racial diversity is not intellectual diversity, and that pushing unqualified minorities through the educational process demeans the educational experience for everyone, especially minorities who do not need special consideration.
Ending affirmative action would be a start toward the implementation of real standards for all students and putting an end to faculty having to compromise their limited integrity and more limited courage. Ending affirmative action would be a positive step toward an environment where minority achievements would be valued as such and not looked upon as something they received because of the color of their skin. But most of all, ending affirmative action would provide a common view of everyone’s achievement and end the need for minorities to create a different cultural reality.