A Daughter's Advantage
A parent assesses the value
of diversity as part of her
daughter’s Pomona experience...
Following the Supreme Court rulings on college diversity plans at the University of Michigan in June, newspapers around the country ran letters supporting and opposing the use of affirmative action in college admissions. The following letter, from a Pomona parent, was published in the Nashville Tennessean.
Affirmative action is good for people who need help and good for people who need the people who need help.
Regarding giving minorities admissions preference in higher education, I am reminded of my Aunt Mary Lou’s comment a few years ago. We were sitting at a long restaurant table with my daughter Laura, her closest friends and their families. It was the night before her graduation from Pomona College in California. My aunt looked down the tablescape and commented, “Hmmm. Laura certainly has a little United Nations of friends.”
Students at the table had ethnic backgrounds that were mixed Asian, European, Latin American, African and Native American.
I don’t know if any of Laura’s friends received preferential treatment at admission due to their minority status, but if they did, it was a multi-level
win. They brought a rich heritage to the table including cultural and language differences.
The significant ethnic diversity in the Pomona student body added much to Laura’s education. She gained a patina of broadmindedness and celebration of differences that one does not get as much in the classroom as in the social environment of an institution.
All people have a story to tell and something to offer others educationally. The more diverse the population, the more opportunity there is to experience the range of humanity that has splintered repeatedly from Genesis in a small tribe in Africa. For a university to use preferential treatment of minorities in order to create an environment that promotes education through ethnic exchange as much in the dorm room as in the classroom seems wise.
Beyond university admissions policies, advocating for diversity in workplaces and neighborhoods through law and custom breaks down barriers of fear of the “other” and makes for a higher quality of community life with diverse friends and acquaintances with whom we can exchange ideas, customs, traditions, etc.
Ethnic and other forms of diversity are here to stay. We would do well in public policy to celebrate diversity/affirmative action and ensure its presence in every aspect of our society.