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Published: Saturday, 1/25/2003

Mr. Bush, UM does not employ a quota system

BY ROSE RUSSELL

BULLETIN to the GOP: It can't be both ways. Either you are or are not for civil rights, diversity, and fairness. Recent events prove that you do not favor equality for everyone.

George Bush talks as though the playing field is level. It is not. That's why the University of Michigan admission policy sets an important example that other public and private institutions should follow.

When Mr. Bush stated his opposition against the UM policy, he used inciting phrases. “... a quota system ... based solely on their race. ... numerical targets ... quota systems ... based on race. ... unconstitutional quotas. ...”

If Mr. Bush believes the university uses a quota system to admit minorities, that provides a glimpse into why the University of Texas law school rejected his request for admission.

A quota system is not the same as affirmative action. Black's Law Dictionary says a quota is “a proportional share assigned to a person or group, ... a minimum or maximum number. ...” Black's Law defines affirmative action as “A set of actions designed to eliminate existing and continuing discrimination, to remedy lingering effects of past discrimination, and to create systems and procedures to prevent future discrimination.”

If UM used quotas, a specific number of slots would be reserved for minorities. Whites and conservatives dislike that idea. So do some minorities, as the thinking is that the aim of using quotas is to only to fill spots with those whose qualifications don't matter. Affirmative action gives qualified applicants a fair chance.

So Mr. Bush's use of incorrect language about the Michigan policy was to satisfy conservatives. In reality, UM tries to use methods that do not cheat anyone to achieve a student enrollment that reflects the nation's population.

Yet the Bush administration opposes the UM policy and declared it unconstitutional in a brief filed with the U.S. Supreme Court. Officially, the administration's position should not sway the court. But it might influence the court, as this is the same court that installed Mr. Bush as President.

If what UM does is so unfair, all conservatives admitted to colleges where they had prior connections should return their degrees, resign from their jobs, donate their wealth to the poor, and never again state that they entered or graduated from a college on their own merit.

George W. Bush should lead this campaign. George H.W. Bush graduated from Yale in 1948. George W. Bush graduated from Yale in 1968.

Don't tell me Yale admissions ignored that George H.W. was an alumnus when George W. sought admission. Of course they did, and that was favoritism. It happens all the time, as Michigan Democratic Sen. Carl Levin observes:

“If colleges and universities can give special consideration to children of alumni, children of large donors, children of public officials, students from specific locations to achieve geographic diversity, athletes, and children of faculty and staff, then surely they should be allowed to take reasonable steps to achieve diversity.”

Mr. Bush said UM “has established an admissions process based on race.” The policy is not based on race but takes race into consideration. If it were based on race, a Kathleen Kennedy Townsend statement could be the banner of such a policy. The former candidate for Maryland governor said, “Slavery was based on race. Lynching was based on race. Discrimination was based on race. Jim Crow was based on race. And affirmative action should be based on race.”

If the court rules that what UM does is unconstitutional, then let's also drop advantages for applicants who are children of alumni or donors, etc.

The GOP claims it wants to improve its image among black voters. Good. But is it sincere when its boss denounces Michigan's admissions policy?



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