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Mount Union Students Debate Affirmative Action

April 13, 2006

On April 12, students, faculty and staff gathered in Bracy Hall for the Mount Union College student debate entitled "Resolved that: 'A Free Society Should Allow Affirmative Action Preferences in Higher Education.'"

 

Students arguing for Affirmative Action were Leland Spencer, a senior communication studies major of Massillon; John Nelson, a junior art major of Akron; Philip Bufford, a senior religious studies major of Akron; and Tanya Frampton, a senior history major of Leetonia.

Students arguing against affirmative action were Gregory Reichart, a sophomore history major of Sharpsville, PA; Chrystal Farmer, a senior political science major of New Waterford, John Highman, a senior political science major of Canton; and Mary Ellen Ditchey, a sophomore French major of Warren.

Dr. Turnquist, interim vice president of academic affairs and dean of the College, who provided opening and closing remarks, began the debate by saying the topic of Affirmative Action "is a topic that may stir more passion than those debated previously."

Spenser set the tone of the debate by putting keywords into perspective.

"The affirmative position in today's debate is a world wherein Affirmative Action is one permissible course of action," said Spenser.

Some benefits of Affirmative Action include creating more diversity in and out of the classroom. The diversity creates a higher quality, well-rounded education.

"The quality of education is enhanced when interacting and debating with others unlike ourselves is possible," said Frampton.

Some against Affirmative Action say that it creates reverse discrimination. Bufford said this notion illustrates the white male as a victim.

"Those against Affirmative Action want people to honestly believe that qualified white males cannot obtain adequate education to sustain their livelihood because white males are ousted out of educational opportunities simply because they are white males," he said.

"Affirmative Action is a beacon of hope for African Americans who may be living in New Orleans whose homes may have been destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, said Nelson. "Maybe a student is studying to become an architect so he can rebuild his community."

Those opposing Affirmative Action said it could be demeaning to those who receive privileges based on it and is a form of reverse discrimination.

"Do we want to cheapen their success by saying that Affirmative Action is the only way they got in?" asked Reichart.

Referring to students in inner city schools where the education is not the best, Highman said, "Affirmative Action takes a few select people from those situations as says, 'okay we will give you a boost because we know you will succeed.' What does it do for everybody else? It just lets them fail."

He continued by discussing how this is reverse discrimination.

"What happens to the poor white person from inner-city Cleveland? They had to go through the same educational system as the African-Americans, said Highman. "What happens to them? We just forget about them."

Opposing side also said Affirmative Action was the government's way of making up for past discrimination. "Giving preference to certain people in groups because they were oppressed in the past is just as unjust as the original discrimination," said Farmer.

The debate was judged by Dr. Mary Eicholtz, assistant professor of communication; Dr. Clara Becerra, assistant professor of foreign languages; Robert Garland, director of libraries; Fendrich Clark, assistant professor of communication; Dr. Lee Gray, professor of geology and Dr. Ernest Pratt, assistant professor of education.

First prize of $70.00 was awarded to Spenser, second prize of $60.00 was awarded to Bufford and third prize of $50.00 was awarded to Farmer.

Dr. Martin Horning, professor of economics, served as moderator.

The student debates, organized by Dr. Santosh Saha, professor of history, have been held for the past fourteen years.

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