Affirmative action in the University of Wisconsin System and state contracting would be abolished or significantly scaled back under legislative proposals to be taken up today by a committee of state lawmakers and citizens.(Do some people figuratively grow up in another country? Apparently, yes.)
One measure would draft a constitutional amendment that would prohibit state agencies and public universities from granting preferential treatment to any individual or group based on race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin....
Other proposals, crafted by Sen. Glenn Grothman (R-West Bend), chairman of the Special Committee on Affirmative Action, would:
• Require racial or ethnic minorities applying to the UW System or state contracting agencies to prove they are at least 25% that race or ethnicity to receive preferential consideration.
• Require racial or ethnic minorities applying to the UW System to demonstrate "knowledge or experience" of their racial or ethnic group to receive preferential consideration. If applicable, the applicant would have to demonstrate proficiency in a language other than English.
• Prohibit the UW System from considering the race or ethnicity of an applicant unless the applicant proves that his or her family makes less than 400% of the federal poverty level ($80,000 for a family of four)....
David Giroux, a spokesman for the UW System, said there was a "compelling need for diversity" in public universities and that it would be a shame for the Legislature to move against affirmative action, which he described as a "divisive issue."
"Diversity benefits all students, improving the quality of their education and their prospects for career success," he said.
"I think it's racist to imply that I'm going to learn something from you because your great-great-grandparents came from someplace else," he said. "Unless you literally grow up in another country, you're an American just like everyone else. You follow the Packers, eat McDonald's, and share the same tastes as everyone else."
I understand Grothman's point, that diversity-based admissions ought to connect to some real diversity that the student will bring to the classroom. But isn't his solution worse than the problem he cites? We're going to ask students to prove what percent of a race they are? That's really ugly, worse than abolishing affirmative action altogether I would think.