Ideas and cookies

Indiana University gets that whole free speech thing. (I’ve fixed the university name.)

Nick Blesch attended the affirmative action bake sale, which kicked off a loud discussion of the issues. As a privileged white male, he ended up with all the cookies. Ain’t that always the way.

About Joanne


  1. Mike McKeown says:

    I didn’t check it, but there is a statement in a quote in the article that may be incorrect. Any idea what responsibility is on a reporter to check such a statement?

    ” But many on campus saw the event as racist, said Crystal Brown, president of the school’s Black Student Union.

    ” “It was a slap in the face, especially since there is no affirmative action policy for undergraduates,” said the 20-year-old junior from Indianapolis. ‘

    Maybe this is part of a new trend. For example, there could be ‘diversity’ policies that don’t explicitly mention AA that do have ‘guidelines’ and goals, but claim to be fully merit based or open systems.

  2. “This is one of the more significant social and political issues of our time. . . . It is exactly the kind of dialogue that should be encouraged on college campuses.”
    Damon Sims, associate dean of students

    Wow, it sounds like The University of Indiana actually SUPPORTS free speech. Any bets on whether this is a temporary phenomenon of if UI later apoligizes for their insensitivity once the decision gets higher up than associate dean? Hopefully they will stick with their support of free speech.

  3. Mike,
    I went to the University of Indiana website and it did not play up race in anyway that I could find. Their application for admission has one question about race and answering it is optional. Their website says that race is not a factor in admission. Their AA statement is:

    Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Policy
    Indiana University pledges itself to continue its commitment to achievement of equal opportunity within the university and throughout American society as a whole. In this regard, Indiana University will recruit, hire, promote, educate, and provide services to persons based upon their individual qualifications. Indiana University prohibits discrimination based on arbitrary considerations of such characteristics as age, color, disability, ethnicity, gender, marital status, national origin, race, religion, sexual orientation, or veteran status.

    This has to be one of the best (IMO) AA statements I have seen. I don’t see anything in the statement that I disagree with.

  4. F. L. Olmstead - The Curmudgeon says:

    Until we stop talking about such matters in “sound bites” and bumper sticker slogans, there will be little or no progress. The final paragraph of the article in the Indianapolis Star indirectly quotes one Lillian Charleston, the Affirmative Action Officer of Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis as follows:
    “Affirmative action policies, she said, help ensure a diverse mix on campus and in the workplace, which benefits everyone.”

    Unfortunately, this is in the nature of an “Urban Legend.” Let us examine this statement in its several parts. First, do Affirmative Action policies ensure diversity on campus? Perhaps. It appears that they have led to the establishment of implicit quota systems for ethnic groups. The quotas are based either on population profiles or some inversion thereof; i. e., excessive admissions of “minorities” to atone for past sins. Next, what about the workplace. Well, the vast majority of jobs are found and are being created in small businesses, paticularly those with less than fifty, or even less than twenty-five, employees. These firms are exempt from Federal AA requirements; State laws are another matter, but only a few hyper-liberal States cover ALL firms, even tiny mom & pops. Major corporations are covered, but they long ago put in place CYA policies; the major impediment to minority hiring in large firms (particularly manufacturing firms) are the Unions, and even they seem to be changing.

    Now as to the benefits of “diversity.” Every study ever conducted has found precisely NONE. There is no improvement in academic performance on campuses, there is no improvement in productivity in integrated workforces, etc., etc., etc. The real and ONLY justification for AA type policies, and not as they are now enforced by the Government, is because it is the Moral and right thing to do.

    Unfortunately, that probably isn’t “sexy” enough for the media these days.

    The Curmudgeon

  5. PJ/Maryland says:

    There’s a little more detail on the bake sale in this article in the Dallas-Forth Worth Star-Telegram.

    One student, Rahsaan Bartet, filed a complaint with the dean of students’ office, saying the bake sale would “create a climate of hostility against students of color and women and can easily turn violent.”

    This sounds a lot like the University of Washington story, where the university shut down the bake sale because of “disruption” and claimed to be worried about violence. Kudos to IU for not falling for it.

    IU Dean of Students Dick McKaig said officials would follow up on the complaint, but he doubted the bake sale violated school rules against behavior that victimizes or stigmatizes individuals on the basis of race or ethnicity.

    “There is sort of a wide berth given to activities in Dunn Meadow in recognition of free speech,” McKaig said.

    I know nothing about the geography of IU, but it sounds like Dunn Meadow might be a “free speech zone”. Some schools have used the free speech zone concept to move all controversial speech away from the main parts of campus. (There’s a campus map here, but I don’t see anything labeled Dunn Meadow.)

    I have to wonder why, if a university doesn’t have an affirmative action admissions program, it needs six people in an AA office. (The law school, and possibly some other graduate schools, do apparently use race in their admissions decisions.) I found this study which discusses various “diversity indicators” as of Fall 2002. The fact that African-American retention and graduation rate is much lower than the overall rate does suggest something is going on in the admissions process, tho.

    Still, I’m glad to see that free speech trumps political correctness, at least this time. And the free speech is needed, judging by one student:

    People who oppose affirmative action do not understand what it is like to be person who is in a minority, said Amber Garcia, a junior.

    “They don’t know what it is like to go into a classroom and be the only person that looks different,” she said.

    Because looks are very important. Which is why AA admissions reduce the number of Asians (among other groups), because they look like everyone else.

  6. No qualified applicant is being turned away from Indiana University (Bloomington, the flagship campus)… this is not that selective of a school (average SAT score 1099, over 80% applicants accepted)…
    And there are very few underepresented minorities…
    Black, Latino/Hispanic, and Native-American student enrollment combined it just 6 percent.
    Clearly affirmative action, if it exists at this campus, is having minimal impact… no qualified white/asian students are being turned away… and clearly, they aren’t attracting large numbers of underepresented minorities…

    So why are the conservative students raising a ruckus over affirm action at their campus? I guess its the new way to prove your PC… as in “patriotically correct”.

    And before you jump all over me… I fully and completely support the free speach rights of the students to do what they did…

  7. Doug Purdie says:

    Race based admissions policies do nothing to correct the problem of people being “…disadvantaged in their formative years.” We’re talking college now. It’s too late to fix the cause.

    “Affirmative action policies, she said, help ensure a diverse mix on campuses and in the workplace, which benefits everyone.”

    Race based admissions policies may benefit most people. I have my doubts, but it definitely does not benefit the qualified applicants who were rejected because their skin was the wrong color.

  8. Indiana University. Not University of Indiana. 🙂 First time reader of the site, by the way, and I really like it!

  9. I’m an IU student, and I was there (as one of the very few supporters, although not a member of the group who sponsored the sale). To answer some of the questions that came up:

    Dunn Meadow is the “free speech area” on campus. The entire campus is a free speech area to an extent, but if a (demonstration, bake sale, protest, whatever) causes a significant disruption, then IU will ask the group to move to Dunn Meadow. I’m not positive that this is constitutional, but it’s certainly a lot better than most universities. (The bake sale was planned in advance with the cooperation of the University and requested to use Dunn Meadow in the first place.) Dunn Meadow is a bit out of the way – it’s certainly not the busiest spot on campus – but (obviously) people showed up anyway.

    IU doesn’t have an (undergraduate) AA policy; the students who put on the bake sale were, in effect, looking for a fight (they got one). However, just because IU doesn’t have an (undergrad) AA policy doesn’t mean that it’s okay for other schools to.

    Here is the sad part, and what I think is the most telling sign that AA needs to be discontinued: While I was at the bake sale (and the town hall meeting that night), I had multiple students come up and tell me that they wouldn’t be at IU if it weren’t for AA. These students got into IU – a pretty good school; not Harvard, not Berkeley, but a pretty good school – on their own merit, but they are convinced that this could not have occured because of both their own shortcomings and “institutional racism.”

    Getting into IU because of AA is obviously impossible, given that IU doesn’t have an undergrad AA policy… How low must one’s self-esteem be in order to assume that a goal accomplished on the basis of merit wasn’t?

    Anyway, I have a post up about the bake sale itself, and I fully plan on writing one about the town hall meeting that evening.