Monday, October 30, 2006

Race Problems

Michael O'Brien, an undergrad at the University of Michigan and the executive editor of the Michigan Review, has turned in a brave and perceptive editorial in National Review on the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative (MCRI), which will be voted on in the coming election. If passed, MCRI would ban affirmative action in college admissions and state hiring.

My school, like many other colleges and universities, has a serious problem with race. But the problem is hardly racism and systematic exclusion of minorities from access to higher education. If nothing else, schools have been overzealous to the point of unconstitutionality in their efforts to boost minority enrollment at all costs.

This has resulted in a crude disequilibrium in which all minority and obscure causes on campus are embraced to prove the school’s diversity bona fides, while anything associated with a campus majority is met with inertia on the part of the university.

The University of Michigan has let its institutional obsession with race and affirmative action distort and detract from its central purpose of providing its students with a truly meaningful education. Professors and administrators prod students at all times — from bulletin board postings to course themes — to see things in black-and-white, as it were. Most students could easily attest to the increased feeling of suspicion and borderline hostility on the basis of race that is encouraged by the University of Michigan’s policies. Race is the salient issue in classes from Sociology to Biology, and the insinuation (if not outright claim) by some that those who wish to cease this poisonous environment are outright racists is ever-present.

The University of Michigan desperately needs the opportunity to have the dense fog of politicized “diversity” lifted. A true dialogue about race may then finally take place, without the entire weight of a major university bearing down against those who wish to challenge its official assumptions. An atmosphere that labels opposing viewpoints as racist does not foster a truly “diverse” student body.