15. Phi Beta Delta: Difference Blindness

A good chapter activity could be a study of the United States Supreme Court ruling regarding the University of Michigan Law School's problems in considering an applicant's race. The court found, with considerable soul searching, that universities would admit few young people from some minority groups if there was not some preference because of ethnicity. One interesting facet of this is that the court seemed to set higher education apart form other areas where ethnicity might figure.

There are profound philosophical questions that the use of race in admissions presents. Seemingly worthy goals collide -- blindness to difference, scholastic achievement, and the need for a diverse student body. Before you form an opinion, reading the court's views, including the minority opinions, is a useful exercise.

Phi Beta Delta believes in diversity and its part of our role to advocate the educational advantages of a diverse campus. We don't have a set view on the mechanisms by which that is achieved. We can all agree that disadvantaged youths may not think about higher education; it is therefore important that there be vigorous recruiting of really able students who might not be getting the encouragement they need.

Beyond that we may disagree, as the justices of the court did. What is certain is that all of them thought that campus diversity was important. How to achieve it is not as simple. The case and the great discussion it prompted is another illustration of how our society is involved with some of the most significant issues of the day. As members we have a duty to be well informed on these issues, and to see that our chapter meetings provide a forum where there is more light than heat!

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