I recently read an editorial entitled “Why Focus on Race?” in which Eric Lanser stated that “[race] is neither a value nor disvalue. Race counts for nothing.” In his opinion, race does not “count for or against you.” If I am correct, he wrote these statements in order to defend his argument that racial diversity is not as important as everyone thinks. However, he is wrong.
America has always allowed race to determine who receives a certain position and most often minorities have been the people who were cheated out of many opportunities because of their race. Therefore, a system was created in order to level the playing field, which in some cases is still not level.
Mr. Lanser does not realize that we do not live in an idealistic world, and until we fix inequality, we cannot simply ignore its existence and reward so-called ‘virtuous’ people.
Mr. Lanser described the merit system as being the great equalizer and the only fair way to judge people.
While this is a noble idea, we do not live in such a world. Inner-city children, who often are minorities, receive a worse education than those who live in the suburbs and are not minorities. When you are receiving the shorter end of the stick, it is a different matter.
Until everyone is truly given equal opportunities, the merit system will always be slanted in favor of the privileged. Tell me, is that fair?
Mr. Lanser suggested that admissions officers should seek to admit students who display the virtues of honesty and independence. He described those with these virtues as deserving while all others are undeserving and villainous. I wonder how we will decide who is honest and independent. Is there a measuring stick that we will use when deciding whom to admit?
Although I do not think that race should be the only, or even the most important factor in admission decisions, it should definitely play a part.
We can clearly measure the number of minorities we have on campus and increase it, if possible, to enrich the educational experience. A campus like Lawrence University can only stand to gain from increasing racial diversity.
Diversity incorporates more than just inner characteristics or even race, but all forms of diversity are important and should be treated as such.