A great shift is occurring in our nation. The outcome of the national election is still months away, and yet something much greater has already changed: us. Our generation is gleaming with optimism and excitement.
For the millions of young people asserting political demands for the first time, what began as opposition to the war in Iraq has grown into a declaration of hope for becoming a nation no longer separated along lines of gender and race. It took only a few months for our generation to brush aside old notions that once seemed invincible. Yesterday’s view was that a fundamental change for the better would have to wait until some indefinite point in the future; today’s view is that such a change is possible now.
And all of this happened while our elders were still droning on about the apathy of the younger generation and the dim prospects for humanity.
This swift change of views has arrived at an important moment for the University. Our campus needs a change of direction, too. The University has been moving backwards since it began implementing the state ban on race- and gender-based affirmative action over a year ago. This was against the interests of the majority of the student body and the younger generation as a whole.
While our generation has distinguished itself for breaking the racial and gender barriers to the U.S. presidency, our campus is experiencing a fortification of those barriers against minorities and women gaining a college degree. The enforcement of Michigan’s ban on race- and gender-based affirmative action threatens to drive down underrepresented minority enrollment to the token levels that existed 40 years ago.
This unacceptable setback has already occurred in California, where top public universities have become hovels of hostile treatment for the few underrepresented minority students who gain entry to them. We cannot allow this to happen at the University, not in the face of a young generation so eager to do away with the old social divisions.
Our generation needs a voice to speak for our own interests and aspirations. Our demands for progress need to be heard beyond the vote tallies in primaries and caucuses – we need to be heard here and now. In this state. On this campus. Everywhere. We need our own leaders, and we need to be leaders. That is why the Defend Affirmative Action Party exists. We are the leaders of our generation.
Liana Mulholland is School of Art and Design graduate student. Kate Stenvig is a School of Education graduate student. They are MSA Rackham representatives. Maricruz Lopez is an LSA junior.