On Monday afternoon, we asked our Local Voices panel this question: "The U.S. Supreme Court just ruled that minority applicants may be given an edge when applying for admissions to universities, but limited how much a factor race can play in the selection of students. Do you think this is a step forward or a step backward in achieving the goal of equality in our country?"
Here are some of their responses.
Kathleen Deyer Bolduc, author, Greenhills:
I think affirmative action is only delaying the goal of true equality in our country. The way to acheive equality is to make sure that ALL children receive an adequate education from elementary through high school. Maybe then we could become color-blind when selecting college applicants, judging them solely on scholastic, athletic and extracurricular merits without regard to race or ethnicity.
Brenda Holliday, social worker, Roselawn:
I think it is difficult to equate the ruling with a step towards equality. Affirmative action is a means of ensuring that minorities get a chance at some of the opportunities normally only available for persons who have been exposed to certain resources. However, our society is not structured to promote equality. When options are made available, we hear talk about minorities needing a "handout" or "reverse discrimination." That mind set will always keep our society from making any significant strides toward equal opportunities for all people.
Chuck Klein, private investigator, downtown:
Backwards. Each American belongs to one or more minority group. Creating special rights to the advantage of one minority produces a pseudo equality and fosters contempt for the entire class of recipients of this privilege. If I were offered or forced to accept a minority preference, I'd encourage my fellow members to reject it and work to prove our equality by showing we don't need special laws. America is not perfect and there will always be some discrimination. Those who have risen above ostracism are the better persons for it - as is their minority.
Scott Knox, attorney, Clifton:
I am glad the Court recognized the importance of having racial diversity in education. It would have been disappointing if it had ruled that, for instance, it is OK for President Bush to have received admission points for having been the son of an alumnus, but that it is improper to value racial diversity as highly as family affiliation. The world that graduates will enter is diverse; our educational instutitions must be allowed to work towards reflecting that diversity in their classrooms or we all are the worse for it.
Eric McDaniel, loan officer, Bond Hill:
I believe it was a good decision to limit how much race can play a part in the selection of students to universities. The University of Michigan system made race the predominant factor in the selection of the student body over grades and test scores. Although achieving a diverse student body is important, scholarship should outweigh ethnicity.
Karen Olson, student, Mariemont:
I think these decisions are a step towards equality in America: the need to encourage and foster diversity in our nation's schools has been recognized, but limited. I cannot agree more with Justice O'Conner who stated in her majority opinion that "Effective participation by members of all racial and ethnic groups in the civil life of our nation is essential if the dream of one nation, indivisible, is to be realized." I wish America didn't need affirmative action, but history proves we are not ready to do without it.
Kent Vandersall, restaurateur, Columbia Twp.:
I think the decisions were sound. For a variety of reasons, race should often be a factor in the admission of students to an institution of higher learning. This was upheld by the Supreme Court. However, by striking down the point system the court sent the appropriate message regarding quotas. All in all, the decisions make good common sense.
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