‘What we want to do is stand out but be silent’

James Heggen

“What would Iowa State be without students of color?”

This question was posed by Tameka Greene, vice president of the Black Student Alliance and senior in art and design, when talking about Missing Minority Day, which will be held Thursday.

The day was created by the Big 12 Council on Black Student Government in response to anti-affirmative-action initiatives. Ten of the Big 12 schools are holding similar events throughout the month.

“If you take away affirmative action, yes – we’re capable of getting into schools, yes, we’re very capable of students of color,” Greene said.

However, Greene said affirmative action helps give people the ability to succeed in college.

“It gives people who do not have the ways and means to get into college – it gives those people the opportunity to get into college,” she said. “It sets up programming for those people to succeed in college.”

Greene said the American Civil Rights Coalition is one of the groups spearheading the anti-affirmative action movement. The ACRC is bringing these kinds of initiatives to many Big 12 school states.

The event is intended to make a statement on campus, Greene said. The plan is to wear orange and go to class but not participate, she said.

“Basically, what we want to do is stand out but be silent,” she said. “That is to show that we are missing – our voices will not be heard.”

Greene also had thoughts on why anti-affirmative action initiatives are gaining ground. She said it is because the arguments in favor of them are based on equality, which she admitted can be a convincing one.

“However, what they don’t educate their supporters about are the many obstacles that people of color have to go through to even want to apply to college,” she said.

Vanessa Philogene, sophomore in pre-journalism and mass communication, said she thinks anti-affirmative action initiatives are gaining ground because some think racism is a thing of the past.

The event is sponsored by the BSA, but Greene said she encouraged others to participate.

“We haven’t collaborated with any other group, but we encourage anyone, no matter what color you are, to participate,” she said.

Philogene compared affirmative action to an example she learned about at a conference she attended. She learned that one way to illustrate diversity for a child is to give him or her a box of crayons with only one color. When you have more colors, you have more variety.

“It’s a lot more fun because you have a lot more diversity, a lot more variety,” she said.

Philogene said affirmative action is more than just the opportunity to get an education – it’s a chance for students of color to share their experiences with others.

“It’s a chance to educate others,” she said.