After the U.S. Supreme Court released its opinions on the University’s admission policies, I got the impression from the media that there had been no clear victory for either side – that the cases were a mixed result. Affirmative action would be allowed to continue, but was highly suspect and would be watched with strict scrutiny.
So, you can imagine my surprise when I received a letter of congratulations in my e-mail box from none other than University President Mary Sue Coleman. Apparently, Mary Sue was having a party, in celebration of the victory in court. Celebration? We lost the undergraduate case 6-3! Besides, it isn’t like there is a clear student majority on the issue; in a poll compiled by the Michigan Student Assembly in March, only 40 percent of the student body agreed with the policies to begin with. Well, free punch is free punch. Give yourself a pat on the back Mary Sue, and thanks for the grub.
Less appetizing was the response from BAMN or “The Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action and Integration and Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary.” I expected the results of the cases to lead to one of the following: BAMN would claim victory and fade into oblivion, or BAMN would burn the Union to the ground. But there was another possible result that I had not expected. In a viewpoint published on June 24 in the Daily, Agnes Aleobua and Kate Stenvig, both BAMN organizers, not only claimed victory, but also maintained that BAMN would stick around to help “defend and expand this victory with the power of the new, militant, integrated, youth-led civil rights movement.” Rambling on, “This victory would have been impossible if not for the 50,000-person national March on Washington on April 1, which was organized and led by BAMN.” How arrogant.
You’ve got to be seriously ballsy or seriously delusional to make statements like those, weighing more on the side of delusional. Rest assured, this “victory” had nothing to do with anything remotely associated with BAMN. Podunk fringe groups like BAMN don’t sway the highest court in the land.
Sure, at first, BAMN seemed harmless – a group that in the excitement and recklessness of its youth had simply lost touch with its target audience. It was always oddly amusing watching its petitions pass through a 600-plus student lecture hall, only to emerge on the other side with no more than a handful of reluctant signatures. But organizations like BAMN demand far more than bleeding hearts have to offer; they need zealots – individuals so consumed by the righteousness of their cause that they lose touch.
They certainly have that in Agnes Aleobua. Most students just write her off, knowing full well that on a given night BAMN meetings draw fewer students than a frat party keg stand. Personally, I choose to take people like Agnes seriously – despite her tendency to make bold statements like, “The South has now been opened for integration again.”
Go ahead and laugh, but bear in mind that this is a woman whose problems run deeper than a lack of people skills. This is a woman who promises the rise of a militant mass movement hell-bent on the protection of affirmative action. A woman delusional enough to believe what she wants to believe. In Agnes Land, if you oppose affirmative action, then you’re a “segregationist.” In Agnes Land, the hundreds of Detroit-area high schoolers her own group buses into Ann Arbor for rallies, are all members of their broad-based movement.
This woman, and the organization she represents is out of touch and over the line. Ignorant, vacuous and righteous to the point of arrogance, this group is a horrible stain on the University. It has proven to be well beyond reach of the diverse education that its members claim to defend so staunchly. It represents diversity of skin color, when the true promise of diversity lies in the tolerance and acceptance of many different points of view. How sad that a group who professes a love for the late Martin Luther King Jr. has so completely missed the fundamental idea of his message: integration through tolerance and peace. Agnes and BAMN choose any means necessary.
Adams can be reached at email@example.com.