BSA discusses merits of merit system

Dylan Boyle

A group of students aimed to educate the masses Thursday about the need for affirmative action in the university admissions process.

Students handed out information at the Union Drive Community Center and tried to show what university life would be like without minorities on campus, by wearing orange and refusing to speak in classes.

“We’re trying to make a statement on campus,” said Tameka Greene, vice president of the Black Student Alliance and senior in art and design. “What would it be like without students of color?”

Missing Minority Day was sponsored by the Black Student Alliance to combat recent movements across the country to get rid of affirmative action and instead use a merit system to admit students.

A merit system would not work, Greene said, because white students from upper-class neighborhoods would still be preferred over blacks from lower-class neighborhoods, even if they had the same GPA.

“It’s not a level playing ground,” Greene said.

Greene said many students come to Iowa State from predominantly white communities in Iowa and the perception students have of minorities is often framed by the negative portrayal of minorities in the media.

“When you come to a place of higher education, that perception should be flipped upside down – but it isn’t,” Greene said.

Greene said the way to change the negative perception of minorities is to have a university where minorities are accurately represented, which is why affirmative action is needed.

“It needs to start with the university,” Greene said. “The university needs to be real with themselves. They boast that it’s a diverse campus, but it really isn’t.”

Greene said the university administration needs to be responsible and take some initiative, which she said it hasn’t done in the past.

“It took two-and-a-half years for us to get an interview for director of Multicultural Student Affairs,” Greene said. “If it was any other organization, that wouldn’t have happened.”

Courtney Thomas, junior in pre-journalism and mass communication and recipient of the Multicultural Vision Program Award, said she has greatly benefited from an affirmative action scholarship.

“It was a great help – you know you have a support system already,” Thomas said.

The scholarship Thomas received was one of 100 given to recruit Iowa high school students to Iowa State.

“One hundred students is not enough, though,” Greene said. “Affirmative action is not just for students of color – it affects everyone.”