Mend affirmative action, don’t end it

University professors are far from being the mirror image of the 21st century ethnic and racial demographics of our society and of the students we all teach.

SHARE Mend affirmative action, don’t end it
Northwestern University.

Northwestern University.

Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Kudos to Nereida Moreno, whose rigorously researched article eloquently captured the negative impact a Supreme Court decision against affirmative action could have not just nationally but also locally in Chicagoland’s public and private universities.

What tends to be generally absent from the national affirmative action debates, whether across particular campuses or during legal court hearings, is the fact that university professors — tenure-track assistant professors, associate professors and especially full professors — are far from being the mirror image of the 21st century ethnic and racial demographics of our society and of the students we all teach.

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Although last week’s Supreme Court hearings focused on the impact of affirmative action policies on students, decades of diversity programs in higher education have not been able to diversify America’s faculty ranks.

I agree with former Justice Sandra O’Connor, who argued in 2003 that American higher education still needs affirmative action, at least until 2028. Affirmative action has to be implemented much more efficiently not just by non-academic staff in charge of admitting students, but also by professors themselves — all of whom are ultimately responsible for educating our multiethnic and multiracial society’s leaders within academia and beyond.

Justice Elena Kagan, who worries about “a precipitous decline in minority applications” if the Supreme Court were to eliminate affirmative action in higher education, correctly stated “these are the pipelines to leadership in our society.”

By implication, our country’s future leadership will also need to include the next cohorts of professors in colleges and universities. Caitlin Wu, the Northwestern University student interviewed by Moreno, agrees with Kagan by suggesting that Northwestern officials “should diversify their own leadership ranks to help bring in meaningful change.”

Mend affirmative action, do not end it.

Alejandro Lugo, Park Forest

Speak out against politically charged violence

Inflammatory right-wing rhetoric is motivating certain individuals and groups to initiate violent attacks against others who do not support their ideological viewpoint about a stolen 2020 presidential election.

Even Donald Trump’s former attorney general and other prominent Republican politicians have condemned this allegation as untruthful.

What is at stake here is the very existence of American democracy and freedoms that we all believe in, enjoy and hold dearly. After witnessing Charlottesville, Virginia, violence, and the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol, deterrence has been muted without the universal public condemnation needed to restore political stability.

The paramount question now is how many more similar incidents will occur in the future, following the the physical attack on the House Speaker’s husband in a home invasion?

Ballard J. Powell, Country Club Hills

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