Affirmative action is a way forward from oppression
To the Daily:
Friday’s letter from Michael Colleran (Admissions policies unfairly target white male applicants, 01/26/07) is misguided and uninformed. As members of the campus community and the Expect Respect campaign, we think it’s important to address some of the issues he brought up.
The anger or guilt felt by some students is often misplaced. When dealing with social justice issues it is important that those emotions are properly channeled. White students, or any students, shouldn’t feel like they have to answer for historical acts of oppression by their ancestors. The goal of learning about history is to move forward.
An ancient African proverb says, “Until the lion has a historian, the hunter will always be a hero.” It’s important to begin to tell the lion’s stories. Bringing oppression to light can, and has, triggered strong emotions. We hope these feelings will cause students to become allies of peoples who have been historically oppressed.
The University’s commitment to excellence isn’t only linked to SAT scores. The SAT simply measures how well an applicant scores on the SAT. When attacking preferential treatment, we must not limit the discussion to examining race and gender-based affirmative action. Legacy, geographic location and economic background are all factors that were not attacked by Proposal 2 but are acts of preferential treatment.
Affirmative action was never meant to punish white males, but is just one tool in the area of higher education that gives disadvantaged people more opportunities. Diversity is not a problem. Racism is a problem and exists in both K-12 and college educational systems. It must be fought in both places, and it is absolutely vital that white students join with racial minorities to fight racism.
Jim Schreiber and Abbie Nurse
Elite senior society will overcome Daily’s taunts
To the Daily:
Why is the Daily taking another shot at Michigamua/Order of Angell (The secret society that lived, 01/29/07)? Although the group was organized around a Native American theme, it was designed to honor and emulate the best traditions of Native Americans. It is true that the society was open to men only but so were many other societies at the University. Segregation of the sexes – in dormitory living, in honorary societies and even in building access – existed at the University for most of the 20th century. Even the Michigan Union, promoted and funded in good part by Michigamua, was a men’s only building for many years. The Michigan League was the women’s counterpart.
As you know, Michigamua ceased to use Native American themes, dress and traditions in 1989 and became open to women members in 2000. The Native American artifacts found during the trespassing and larcenous acts of those who entered the Michigan Union tower in 2000 were historical pieces, not part of any racist activities of Michigamua. The name Michigamua ceased to be last year too.
I am not opposed to releasing the names of Michigamua/Order of Angell members. In fact, when I was a member of Michigamua, the names were published in the Daily and became known to the entire campus. In fact, many members (four during my year) were drawn from the Daily. The only reason for secrecy was because the nature of the organization was to meet and act without publicity, behind the scenes rather than on the front page.
Another comment about Michigamua’s “dark past”: Michigamua was diverse and promoted diversity before that term was in common use or part of the University’s affirmative action programs. The members during my year were of many colors, cultures and religions, including black, Japanese and Jewish members. I will always feel privileged to have known them and to be part of this organization. It was the most enriching experience in diversity that I have known in my life.
Lastly, if the Daily wants to follow Michigamua/Order of Angell and write about it constantly, I say go for it. This group and its contributions to the University will continue regardless of what is said about it.