By Αλεξ Καρρας
As many of you probably know, the issue of race and discrimination has made waves across this country and the university. In the aftermath of the Eric Garden and Michael Brown incidents, various civil rights’ advocates have pushed their ideologies unto the public with the hopes for changing things as they see fit. Among these groups is Binghamton’s own “Students for Change”, or SfC for short; you may know these people for their vocal “Black Lives Matter” protests and their spontaneous, unscheduled, and incredibly disruptive interruptions of classes and lectures. Recently, this group has issued a list of “demands” for this school in order to address the apparent lack of minorities in both the faculty and student body; if they had their way, anyone with darker skin would be given preferential treatment for both work and admission, regardless of their credentials. This blatant call for more aggressive Affirmative Action is not only baseless and misinformed, but incredibly counter-productive.
Affirmative Action, in essence, is the system in which minorities (specifically African Americans) are given preferential treatment for jobs, internships, and school admissions. The reasoning behind this stems from the apparent lack of economic, social, and academic opportunities for these people, who are statistically more impoverished and uneducated. Now, this idea of promoting equality and fairness has its heart in the right place, but it goes in a wholly unproductive direction. In fact, not only is Affirmative Action counterproductive, but it is unashamedly racist against the very people it claims to support and defend: it supports and perpetuates the notion that African Americans are somehow inferior to Caucasians. Why else would they give preferential treatment solely due to the color of someone’s skin? Essentially, this systems purports the idea that these Africans Americans wouldn’t be able to make it on their own; in order for them to have a fighting chance, the standards would have to be lowered. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once famously said, “I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” This beautiful and eloquent call for fairness and equally entirely applies to this issue: judge someone’s worth based on their merits and credentials, not because their skin is a certain color. While these problems of equal opportunity persist within this country, Affirmative Action is not the answer. Forcefully imposing minority quotas will not fix anything, but merely perpetuate this cycle of lower standards and expectations.
The Students for Change has wholeheartedly supported the system of Affirmative Actions, despite the fact that contradicts their entire narrative of supporting freedom and equality. Their “demand” is nothing more than the call for more diversity quotas: having minorities for the sake of having minorities. Their argument, however, stems from what they see as organized prejudice within this university. In their own words, they believe that minorities are “systematically barred from opportunities” here at Binghamton. This is no small claim; to allege that a public university in the North-East is consciously prejudiced against minorities is a very, very serious accusation. And, as they say, extraordinary accusations require extraordinary evidence, which is something this organization conspicuously lacks. Besides their incredibly intellectual and enlightening Yik-Yak posts, the only support this group can conjure are the apparent under-representations of blacks and Latinos within the faculty, staff, and student body. These numbers, by themselves, don’t really mean much of anything. The various percentages and integers they give don’t provide any sort of narrative or explanation. The apparent lack of black faculty members could be explained by a whole range of plausible phenomenon (such as the demographics of those who applied), but instead this group immediately jumps and shouts “RACISM!” despite having no absolutely nothing to support this. Well, not only is their claim utterly baseless, but factually incorrect as well. For example, they claim that over half of this state is either black or Hispanic (they place the number at 54%), when, according to the U.S. census, it is actually around 33.5% In fact, this university is nearly identical in terms of racial demographics to the state of New York (see figure); the only discrepancy is the number of Asian students, which is easily explained by the foreign students from China, Korea, and Japan. As an unconscious result, the number of black and Hispanic students was reduced.
So from where does Students for Change get this idea of institutionalized racism? Where is the evidence, beyond a reasonable doubt, that this entire university needs to be revamped? All this student group has done is postured; they make incredibly assertions, but do next to nothing to back them up with solid proof; I’m sorry Students for Change, Yik-Yaks and catchy hashtags aren’t enough to support your claims. If the student body wishes to address the issue of race, we can’t resort to such sensationalist and alarmist rhetoric. Strengthening the already faulty system of Affirmative Action will do absolutely nothing to address the problems at hand. If the SfC wants to help and support minorities within the university and state, they cannot do it by lowering hiring standards and increasing bureaucratic oversight.